The “Be A Man Challenge” all started one summer during our late adolescent years when my three best friends and I (we called ourselves MonBushNoKo—a mash-up of our last names, back before Glee popularized the term) took a trip to Archbald, PA. We came for “the slips.” An area of town near Archbald Pothole State Park that Steve convinced us was famous for its cliff diving spot—what MonBushKo members of the clan later learned was that Steve utterly failed to mention the exhausting 5-mile trek over a wasteland of abandoned strip mines just to gain access to “the slips.”
OK I lied, at times, we had brief picturesque views.
What transpired next was an epic battle of man versus food…
We stumbled back to the Chevy Venture following our 10-mile round trip hike in the balmy sticky heat of a late-August NEPA summer day. Steve promised us a meal at the Windsor Inn, known for the 2nd Best Wings in the World! We crossed the threshold into the air-conditioned environment and we let out a collective sigh of relief. The torture of the day was over, it was time to celebrate.
As usually happens when multiple, indecisive, Upstate New Yorkers try to order a family-style meal at an unfamiliar restaurant we had issues deciding what to order; wavering to and fro like wheat stalks on a windy day. The back and forth struggle for positioning between our egos, collective funds, and hunger took in excess of 30 minutes. Finally, I gave way to frustration and suggested we order 2 sheet pizzas and 50 wings. They looked at me aghast by my outlandish suggestion, but I knew what I was doing…
The stage was set, the players were famished, and the lights were on. Every nerve, fibre, and sinew in my body was ready for game time. What I said next has gone down in the lore of our collective friendships; as I calmly looked Steve and Bill in the eyes I said, “this is your be a man challenge. We’re doing this.”
And so it was—we ate our fill, and then some. Collectively jockeying to find that extra inch of stomach volume. Meanwhile Liz sat and laughed at the sheer stupidity of teenage boys. Bill ended the night vomiting in that aforementioned water cup. An offering to the gods—or our waitress—for our journey to manhood. Ever since, the “Be A Man Challenge” has been the trump card in our relationships. Bill’s sacrifice was the debt that made it all happen.
As I’ve grown into manhood and moved again and again the importance of keeping ties with old friends, especially those from boyhood, is continually reinforced. Despite the rifts of distance and time, I’m glad MonBushNoKo remains close. We’re still quite capable of picking up where we left off and that’s a beautiful thing. Very little has intrinsically changed in the nearly two decades we’ve all known each other. I picture some day far in the future sharing laughs as I retell the story of that time he ate beyond the point of vomiting.
How about you, do you have any personal stories amongst friends that have stood the test of time? Wouldn’t it be nice to send them a note reminding them of that silly memory from childhood or adolescence?
I bet they’d love it.