by Steve Liddick

For a few years, while recovering from a back injury that made it impossible to work in my profession as a radio news anchor, I worked for the local school district. One day I looked around Cubicle City and said to my friends, Jerry and Mike, “there sure are a lot of women in this place.”

They looked around the big room and nodded in agreement.

“We ought to get out of here and do stuff that women wouldn’t even want to do,” I said.

We were the only three men in the entire department, not counting the big boss—and who would want to spend another day with that guy?

We three decided to start doing brazenly chauvinistic off-campus activities that excluded women. We would go to movies that had a lot of shooting and fights and loud explosions and car chases and actresses who were not overly concerned with how much of themselves were visible—wardrobe-wise. We would take day trips to places that forbade daintiness or anything painted pink, and maybe even say things you wouldn’t say in front of your mother or others of refined sensibilities. We would spit and cuss and do guy stuff. We would exchange stories of our misspent youths that we would never even tell our doctor, priest, attorney, psychiatrist or bartender—even though they were sworn to secrecy.

My immediate boss heard about the proposed adventures. She said, “It sounds like fun, can I go?”

We were appalled at the idea that a woman wanted to take part in something specifically designed sans la femme–what Mike suggested we call “Man Town.” I said, “We can’t call it Man Town if there are women involved.” She walked off in a snit.

Our test run involved a Saturday drive to Lake Tahoe where I lost my traditional twenty-dollar gambling limit to a hungry slot machine within mere minutes of our arrival. Then we drove around the area, taking in the awesome view of the lake and making manly comments about bikini-clad fauna on spring break.

On the way back we stopped in the California gold country town of Placerville for lunch and more rowdy fun.

Man Town turned out to be everything we imagined it would be.

Monday morning my boss came to me and said, “So, . . . how was your—Man Town? I thought there was a curl of the lip when she said the words.

“It was great,” I said.

After a long pause, waiting for details and getting none, she said, “So, . . . what did you guys do?”

“I probably shouldn’t tell you,” I said, “but we went to Tahoe and played the slots.”

“That’s it? Then what?”

“Now that I really shouldn’t tell you.”

I let her talk me into telling her.

“On the way back we stopped off at . . . “Sweetie Pies.”

She did a double take, then said, “What’s that, a strip joint?”

“I promised the other guys I wouldn’t tell.”

I let that hang there for awhile before I finally told her it was a Placerville restaurant that specialized in pies.

That was fifteen years ago. All three of us are long retired now and we still get together at least once a month. We still take in the occasional movie, but more often we just have lunch somewhere and insult each other in good fun. One recent adventure series  involved a quest for the world’s best hamburger. The search has taken us all around much of northern California, laughing all the way.

I don’t expect to ever find the ultimate burger. But that isn’t really the object, is it?

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Books by Steve Liddick:

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”