The Road Trip
My annual fall golf trip up north serves as a reminder to, ahem, our politicians that we can all get along
It is only a few weeks away.
“It” being one of four excursions to the lake that has developed over the years. Each outing honors the distinct Wisconsin seasons that bless us.
The year begins in January with the annual ice-fishing trip with the Chicago guys. Then spring is welcomed with the Roach Brothers Fishing Trip and Poker Tournament. On the Fourth of July the birth of ’Merica is observed with our children and twenty-five of their closest friends.
And then comes The Fall Golf Trip.
This is a wonderful gathering of Madtown friends. As fall begins to steal the remaining days on the links, we head north to play a few of the great courses hidden between the lakes.
Like all of these trips, it is less about the proposed activity and more about the camaraderie.
The dozen guys who make the trip offer an age spread of over thirty years from youngest to oldest. The punks are still in their forties. The emeritus member of the trip is eighty-two, curses like a Marine Seal and has a UW tattoo on his ankle.
There are cats from every walk of life: state employees, doctors, professors, lawyers, artists, realtors, business execs, retirees and landscapers. And every single one of them is tremendous company, as well as a huge smartass.
As a veteran host, you know to invite people who understand the code. Take care of yourself. Don’t be needy. Bring gifts to appease the lake gods. Don’t be afraid to buy a round for all. No whining. And know that after three beers you snore. Everyone does.
This trip has a swell agenda. Golf. Refreshments. Fish fries. Campfires. And late-night singalongs with Elvis as he warbles his famous Vegas Trilogy. Depending on the condition, this author will pantomime Elvis, complete with karate moves and scarf distribution.
There have been memorable moments. One year, after several glasses of fine merlot, our eldest member pitched backward out of a chair into two reverse somersaults, landing at the water’s edge. He popped up like Nadia Comaneci sticking a landing to announce that he was fine. To which we retorted, “Ralphie. Hoover was president when you were born. You fell backwards and did two somersaults. Of course you’re fine.”
There is a link on the trip. Every member is an achiever of some sort. Guys who have created companies, contributed to the public good, personally provide free health care to the indigent, pro bono work for charities, even health care solutions for the poorest of third world countries.
Some of the guys are Dems. Some Republicans. Some independents. Some are Limbaugh listeners, some Limbaugh loathers. Some voted for Obama. Some for Walker.
Unlike a boring party where no one will discuss sex, religion or politics, we go out of our way to continuously discuss all three. There are no fights. No screaming. No stalking away in a huff. Each opinion is weighed with respect and a response is given, most often accompanied with a withering joke and an agreement to disagree.
The discussions, though, are not the most important thing about the trip.
The laughter is.
Having staged these forays for nearly three decades I can say with surety that there is nothing more therapeutic for humans than three days of laughter with friends, no matter their politics.
So to my guys I say, “Get ready. It’s going to be the best trip ever. Bring money, because I am now a seventeen and golden.”
But I would also like to use our fall model to create a new trip. A new adventure, one that could benefit every citizen of our state.
So here is my invite to Scott Walker, Jon Erpenbach, Dale Schultz, Scott and Jeff Fitzgerald and old hands Bill Kraus, Bill Dixon, Scott Klug, Jonathan Berry, Paul Soglin and Tony Earl. Hell. Let’s ask Albert Darling and Marty Beil, too.
I invite all of you to the lake for golf, beer, a campfire, cigars and the sound of Van Morrison or Bob Uecker drifting over the lake.
You cannot bring staff. Just Leinies, a few bottles of wine and a pack of brats. I'll provide eggs and coffee for breakfast.
Also, you could bring a willingness to talk and laugh.
The rest of us would appreciate it.
Madison-based television producer John Roach writes this column monthly. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.