"So how does any man keep straight with himself," Nelson Algren asks, in The Man with the Golden Arm, " if he has no one with whom to be straight?" Once a year, I go to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to a small town on the shores of Lake Superior called Ontonagon, where I hang out with my colleague, the great sports columnist Rick Telander, and an assorted motley of his pals. We are straight with each other, and talk philosophy, believe it or not, and life, and swim in the very cold water, and look at the stars, and eat very well, and smoke cigars, and have an awful lot of fun. I'm there right now. So this will be by necessity brief.
When Rick first asked me to go, to spend a long weekend with a bunch of guys—an ex-football player, a TV sports reporter, a couple of former Army Rangers— I almost said no. It sounded like a blow-out, and I've given up that kind of thing. Besides, would I really fit in with that group? But he said trust me, it'll be fine, and I decided to set aside my reservations, believe him and go, because I knew what would happen if I stayed home, and I always try to err on the side of trying something new. And it was fine. More than fine. Great. I'm so glad I did; I made new friends, had many interesting conversations, and saw a part of America that is pristine and proud and very, very beautiful. You can't join us, but you can try new things, even if means an eight hour drive due north to find out if you made the right call or not. Because you never know. Something worthwhile can be waiting.