I am not, by nature, one of those types who thinks that men need to get away to the woods for a “get in touch with your primitive side” retreat. One of those ridiculous things were men who have more income than I set things on fire in a desperate attempt to battle their insecurity. That being said, the idea of a weekend away in the woods to get in touch with yourself does strike me as a good idea. I’m not talking about a camping expedition, but more just a chance to get away from it all.
This is a practice I’ve engaged in over the last three years. Each July I get a cabin in a quiet part of East Tennessee for a weekend. I avoid social media, I try to avoid my phone, and I try to spend my time trying to get back in touch with the mysterious chaos engine that is Andy Ross. For most people, a weekend in the woods means, fishing, reading, cooking, and going to group actives while wearing chacos. For me, my “get back to Andy” weekend means sitting around in my underwear, eating blocks of cheese with a clean screwdriver, and watching reruns of “Supermarket Sweep.”
The mornings are most magical. The cabin is remote, no one for miles, no neighbors. The driveway to the cabin is about half a mile long off the main road. This means one can truly feel at peace with being themselves, and it means I can drink coffee on the front porch every morning completely naked. Just me and my raw naturals being bared before God and all of His creation. I’ll contemplate while doing this. I’ll produce a worn cassette tape and player, and I’ll begin to play the song “Wildfire.” I’ll listen to the words and think about the only woman I ever truly loved.
She grew up on a pony ranch outside of Erwin. Our love was strong and intense. She taught me how to saddle a pony and ride through the Erwin night. Considering that I’m 6’2, this was quite the site for all the locals to see. I would have married her. I loved her so much that I would have given up my life of print media, words, letters, and reruns of “Supermarket Sweep.” But, it was not to be. She left me. She left me for a sesame seed farmer from Detroit. Last I heard she’s happy, and she and the farmer are raising up a nice little family of Buicks.
I’ll put a fresh pair of underwear on, then I’ll go inside and paint up a nice little watercolor as a way of dealing with my feelings. Another pot of coffee, then I’ll crack open another hunk of industrial cheese from Sam’s Club. Eat, watch, sleep, repeat. That’s how it goes over the weekend, by the time I return to civilization I feel like a completely rejuvenated version of myself.
My friends dread this return. I emerge from the woods in full flannel, with a bushy beard, looking like I should be selling Brawny paper towels. I greet them in a loud, mighty, Asgardian voice. I greet them with back-breaking hugs. Picking them up and tossing them all around like they are gentle feathers. After I sit them back down at the table, I holler “Garson! Stacks of your finest flapjacks for everyone!” Once the energy of the sugar reaches my system, I’ll dance around the restaurant like I’m recreating the barn-raising sequence from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”
The restaurant owner dreads this each year, he’ll always come up to me and say “Mr. Ross, you promised this year it would be different!” Then I’ll laugh mightily, pick him up over my shoulders and toss him aloft. True to my word, I’ll always write him a nice check to make up for any damage I caused, and to show that my business is good business to have. My friends won’t speak to me for a few weeks, at least until the beard is shaved off.
It’s amazing what getting in touch with nature and you can do. Some people just returned more relaxed, while I return in a VERY pure version of the chaos engine that is Andy Ross. I hope you all take time to get away for a weekend in the woods, then toss your friends around like they’re nerf balls while wrecking a restaurant. It will do wonders for you. See you next week.