Slacking Sluggers

I recently had a long weekend away with my college friends. For the past thirty-one years since we graduated college, we have gotten together once a year in a cabin on a quiet lake in northern Minnesota. When we were new college graduates, the weekends up there were brief, beer soaked and silly, full of music and dancing …  just another excuse for a party. A few men made those weekends early on, but soon they drifted off and it slowly became a Girls Weekend. We dubbed our weekends together “Slugfest,” as in lying around like slugs. As life got busier and more complicated, these weekends away with each other became a beacon, a goal. “Just hang on until Slugfest.”

Over the years our gatherings have turned into veritable therapy sessions with us lying around and talking about jobs, husbands, partners, kids, dogs, heartbreak, aging parents, parents gone, dreams deferred, worry, regret … life. These weekends always include laughter and tears, crossword puzzles done together (the only way I have been able to complete one), and Chinese checkers. Our beverages have gone from cheap beer to gourmet coffee and good wine. And our menus have progressed from potato chips and pizza to downright fine dining. One year, early on, our conversation at dinner drifted to talking about appliances and I remember saying, “Wow, we must really be adults, now. This is so boring.” We all laughed and got stupid again.

When my husband and I had the good fortune to become farm owners, I immediately thought, “this would be a great clubhouse for the Sluggers!” By then, we Sluggers were all turning 50 and decided that life is too short for just one Slugfest a year. We deserved two: a Lake Slug and a Farm Slug. And so, the Sluggers migrated south from Minnesota to Ohio and I was thrilled.

As the Sluggers arrived at the farm and unpacked their bags, I made a fire in the fireplace, eager to get down to slugging. Then, my friend, I’ll call her “Lucy,” unpacked a special gift for me: a slack line. “What the?” I thought. “That’s awfully ambitious. Does this mean we have to get off the couch?” For those who are older than thirty, a slack line is a hipster device that is essentially a wide tight rope that one installs between two trees and then, if one is an agile young twenty something, tiptoes across with ease and grace. It’s the perfect complement to a hacky sack. Lucy decided that, while she valued our penchant for lying around, she thought we all needed a challenge. She has triplets who are currently teenagers, so she was clearly sleep deprived and not thinking straight. I, being a good hostess, begrudgingly agreed to help get it set up later, hoping she would forget about it.

Well, unfortunately she remembered the slack line the day after a particularly festive evening of dancing and revelry. And, ok, a lot of wine. Let’s just say, I was a bit in the weeds. But Lucy was insistent on getting that slack line up. Eager to shake the cobwebs off my brain, I jumped in … or rather shuffled. The ensuing scene was one for the ages. The others, I’ll call them “The Glue” (she’s the perennial organizer) and “Moojer” (a butchered “mujer,” or “woman” in Spanish) looked on and sipped coffee as Lucy and I wrestled, grunted, groaned and were generally stymied by the slack line. We were down on all fours for hours, twisting the line, turning it this way and that, swearing like sailors. The instructions were incomprehensible, so we Googled for better directions and found videos of a hilariously douchey dudes assuring viewers that this slack line was an amazing way to “amp up your workout” and “really challenge your abs.” I particularly enjoyed the videos with stoner music. “Oh for chrissake,” I thought. “Can’t we just get a Bloody Mary and call it a day?”

We persevered, albeit clumsily with more swearing and grunting. When we finally, miraculously had the blasted thing up, we both let out ecstatic, almost obscene sounds like that famous scene from When Harry Met Sally – “Yes! Yes! Yes!” – collapsing on the ground in delirious laughter. Talk about a workout. My back hurts just writing about it. The horses nearby rolled their eyes, swinging their tails at flies as the four of us immediately went inside for a nap.

The slack line remained between two trees outside our farmhouse for a few weeks and my daughters and I gave it a few runs. My husband, The Land Baron kept threatening to try it, but never got around to it. It now sits under the deck, waiting for the Sluggers’ return visit, hopefully next spring. Every time I see it, I smile and laugh to myself with memories of that ridiculous day of setting it up, but also with genuine gratitude for the amazing good fortune I possess to have had these friends for so long.

We don’t talk much between our gatherings, preferring to save it all up for those magical weekends where time stands still and we are almost back in college, only now with wrinkles and sensible shoes. As we move forward, I know that life will keep coming, with all its unplanned twists, turns and surprises (like slack lines). But I also know in my fiber that these women will remain. Slug on, Slugging Sluggers!