What if there was an opportunity to get the band together for one more big adventure? To prove to one another and, more importantly, to ourselves, that we were still able to invoke the spirit of youth while not hurting any farm animals along the way.
I'm not talking about a round of golf, or weekend in Margaret River with friends, I'm talking about a boys' outing of such epic proportions that you'll be talking about the escapades in 20 years with your son Rusty - when you're sharing your first beer, telling him what "being a man" meant to you and your friends and how you were able to buy that house in Vegas from Uncle Ross at such a good price.
I'm talking about re-assembling the crew in a foreign land where the BBQ is smoked, the bourbon is fresh and the Aussie accent is still a powerful tool.
Brandon was right. We'd become soft in middle age. Pudgy.
Boys' weekends away had been replaced with supermarket shuttles, Saturday morning sport runs, bills, pointless strategy meetings, expanding waistlines and receding hairlines.
With a few other choice unprintable adjectives, Brandon had goaded, corralled, willed and then finally inspired 10 once-prime examples of manliness to gather in New Orleans to rediscover their form.
If you are looking in this article for tales of John (name changed to protect identity) falling for a credit card scam peddled by smoking-hot women while seeking fried chicken at 2am on a balmy Bayou morning, you've come to the wrong place.
That old adage what goes on tour stays on tour remains.
No, this is more a self-help guide for those planning a "mancation".
Rule one: Plan in advance. Pick a milestone. Turning 40 usually does it.
Rule two: Plan the route. Something for everyone, but far enough away so that once committed, the likelihood of drop-out is low. New Orleans fits the bill.
Rule three: Use peer pressure. Get the boys to commit early (tickets booked) so they do not wimp out.
Rule four: Secure the base of operation. In each city find somewhere close to the action and classy enough - don't go nuts, what you want is somewhere that won't chuck you out for doing drunken bombies in the pool in a bear mask. Hotel Monteleone, in the inner French Quarter, is one such place. The historic landmark is famous as the haunt of many Southern authors and Hemingway and Tennessee Williams stayed whenever they were in town. That can provide a literary, high-brow cover to your trip.
P.S. The last bit about the pool may not apply at the Monteleone.
Rule five: Dress for success. It is highly unlikely such a venture will be approved again . . . so go hard or go home. Bleach your hair, dress in wigs, Mexican wrestling masks or as a Blues Brother. You only live once.
Note: this last rule on masks does not extend to Memphis where the police may shoot you on suspicion.
For those in the market for some masquerade mystery, you can't go past Funrock'n at 1125 Decatur Street. Tell them Ross sent you.
Rule six: Unleash Phil Collins. Upgrade the cars, pack your tunes and have no shame. "In the Air Tonight" is a great way to welcome any new town.
Rule seven: Engage local law enforcement. You are on tour, crazy stuff is going to happen. Be ready to deal with authority when people climb local statues, exhibit unsafe practices in the pool, find a tiger in the bathtub, wander up the wrong laneway. Your best bet is a front man with a fancy accent, preferably faux-British.
Rule eight: Obey the code. What happens on tour, stays on tour. Maintain a shadow Facebook site for the wives and partners and make it real enough to avoid raising suspicion but keep the crazy antics to yourselves - unless, of course, they are hilarious.
Rule nine: Ensure the trip coincides with cheesy 80s revival stadium rock tours, such as Poison (insert appropriate era for your trip).
Rule 10: Commission T-shirts, visors and other memorabilia. Preferably with an enigmatic message like "Deep South 2012", so when people ask "what's Deep South?" you can reply with a straight face: "A quest".
And so it is that Mark (real name, no shame) greets us as we step off the plane with a new peroxide blonde hairdo. He'd had a few hours to kill before everyone else arrived. If possible, try and co-ordinate arrival times and gather in one spot for a few drinks.
If it's noon, that's even better.
New Orleans is famous for its boozy brunches. Try Cafe Beignet on Bourbon Street for its laid-back vibe and jazz. The signature doughy, deep-fried, icing-sugar dusted beignet (like a heavy doughnut) goes well with the Black Russian cocktails.
Importantly, the carbohydrates provide stamina needed on mancation.
Good bars and eating abound, including Franky & Johnnys across town on Arabella Street for seafood gumbo and fried green peppers, or Central Grocery for the local specialty called a muffaletta (pronounced muff-a-lot-ah). Grab one of these monster sandwiches "to go" with a Barq's root beer and walk down to Jackson Square, find a park bench and enjoy.
But don't tire yourself too much in the sultry air moving between venues. It's easy to catch a rickshaw to beat the snarly traffic. Stop off at somewhere like the Blue Nile club on Frenchman Street for a mix of famous and up-and- coming jazz, blues, rock and funk acts.
And try and keep the crew together.
Don't let Matt (name changed to protect identity) claim at 11pm he's too tired to party on.
You also need to consider taking in culture on your trip: man cannot live on beignet alone.
Suggestions include local interpretive dancing establishments or side-trips to alligator farms riding air boats run by tour guides with impenetrable Southern accents. Give Captain Arthur a call at Bayou, Swamp and Marsh Tours. The former Coast Guard captain will warble away in Creole English 'bout how the swamp has changed and where to find 'gator nests. Mornings and evenings are best for sightings.
If time permits, consider long-range expeditions to places such as Graceland, in Memphis. That is if you don't spot Elvis in a 7-11 first.
Of course, for the extended trip, don't forget a little mancation pampering is in order. Upgrade the car: the Cadillac Escalade really is the King of the Road (although surprisingly tight on luggage space).
Space precludes more tips.
So that's that.
Back to daily life.
Back to those shuttle runs and meetings.Well, until Barry's wedding in Pamplona in 2016.
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