About once a quarter or so a bunch of guys get together at my friend Jay’s house for what we all call “man night.” Man night consists of four things: 1) eating 2) drinking 3) catching up on our lives 4) some sort of shenanigans.
This ritual started about 12 years ago. Jay and I went to school together and he invited me to go out with him and a friend of his, Soke to a dance club. Well, I went but clubs aren’t really my cup of tea so he invited me up to his girlfriend’s father’s house to hang out for a gathering where I would meet his future brother-in-law Jeff, his dad and many people who eventually became friends of mine as well. Soon it became a tradition where at some point one member of the group held a gathering at their place where we would eat, drink and have a good time. Then Jay and his girlfriend got jobs out of town and moved in together (and eventually got married) and I moved down to where I live now. So the gatherings became less frequent, and eventually stopped altogether. Then Jay started having birthday parties for himself at his house, which was just like the old gatherings, except we spent the night most of the time. Then the parties became too much of a hassle (his birthday being in January and all) and they turned into smaller gatherings dubbed “man night.” As I grew older I stopped wanting to travel as much because I got lazy and especially when I became a father, my desire to be away from my family was down to practically zero. Plus at the same time I was going to school so there wasn’t a lot of time for me to go out, especially two hours up to my friend’s house. But Jay worked with me and I attended a few.
I recently attended what will certainly be my last one for a bit due to the fact that I am due to become a father for the second time. I wish my friends lived closer. I don’t like driving alone. I don’t like leaving my family, but I do enjoy man night.
The problem with man night, is that I am the only one who goes who has kids. Another guy who has a son has been invited, but rumor has it his wife has but the kibosh on hanging out with this circle of friends…or friends in general depending on who you ask. So my end of the conversation ends up being “Hey let me tell you about this funny thing my daughter did last night… oh wait.” To their credit my friends haven’t shunned me for making the decision to have children and they do embrace my daughter (Jay happens to live just off the route I typically take to and from where I grew up and where my wife’s family lives, so if I (or in one instance my daughter) needs to use the bathroom or just a break, him and his wife are always welcoming. Plus they have cats and my kid LOVES cats.
Another problem is Soke. I love Soke. He’s a good guy with a heart of gold. But he cooks us dinner, which I do appreciate. He is a good cook too and doesn’t ask anything in return except to eat and enjoy. So what’s my complaint you ask?
It’s that I want to eat at a “normal” time. You see, Soke likes to eat late. Not 7:30, 8:00 late. Like 10:30, 11:00 late. Dude, I have a three year old at home. I go to bed when this kid is up because chances are I may have to get up several times a night, and who knows when I will have to get up for the day. I want to eat, have a few beers and go to bed. This isn’t the old days where you plan no getting no sleep. I WANT SLEEP, DAMNIT. But Soke never wavers despite my numerous threats of physical violence (I tend to get a WEE BIT cranky when I’m hungry), he never wavers and so I am forced to hunt for my food in the rugged terrain of Mechanicsburg, PA. I may be gone for hours, days (even though I’m just up there for the night), who knows?! I am forced to rough it.
But Soke does cook and cook well, and I eat like a king. The next morning we all get up bright and early (Despite drinking into the wee hours of the night) and walk. Well, some of us.
We used to walk just around the neighborhood but now we walk to the Panera by Jay’s house to grab breakfast and then back. Usually Jay’s dad is leading the pack with Soke close behind him. Jay and I usually take a leisurely stroll and chat while being scorned by those up ahead.
Then we head back and I usually pack up the car to head home to see my loving family. All in all, it’s usually a good time. Just don’t ever leave in the middle of the night. Even if you’re bored and can’t sleep. You’ll never hear the end of it.