The Stag Weekend, Debriefed

Sixteen days later and I’m still looking at my photos from my bachelor bash wondering what I did to be so lucky.

In the two and a half weeks since I returned from my stag weekend in New Orleans, I’ve lost count of the number of people who have marvelled at the fact that 10 guys managed to co-ordinate their schedules and pitch in to treat me to three and a half unforgettable balls-out-and-sparks-flying days (figuratively speaking).

Whether it’s Vegas, New Orleans or Vilnius, that movie The Hangover had it right. The best locale for a bachelor party is a place where scruples and careful plans go to die. Not that it will be easy to plan it that way: Men in their early 30s are supposed to have responsibilities, and these tend to get in the way of committing to the kind of zany adventures you took for granted in your early 20s. This is as true of my friends as it is of yours: Even organizing cottage weekends has become a slog in the mud of a hundred emails in recent years.

Yet when it came to my stag weekend, it was all hands on deck. I must have done something right. My gratitude runs deep — deep like a Hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s, where we kicked off the first night of drinking. That evening at least starts as a clear memory, even if it gets hazy after 3 a.m. or so. Hurricanes for all and two for me, each one four ounces of rum and a whole lot of fruit punch. Imagine my hangover the next morning.

You see, my intent was to show the guys — most of whom had never been to New Orleans before — along seedy, boozy, sugary Bourbon Street the first night, hoping they would get it out of their system. Then, later, I would show them my New Orleans, the city of slower-paced cocktail joints and lazy conversation.

Instead, my friends developed a taste for the stank of Bourbon Street: The plastic beads, cheap beer and drunk women. We also checked out a lot of live music, which wasn’t something I would have done much of on my own. The places we ended up in were their choice more often than mine. And that was OK: I went with the flow, figuring you have friends for a number of reasons, and one of those reasons is they help you learn things — like where to get good music and cheap-ass Pabst Blue Ribbon on Frenchman Street.

Things got just crazy enough without anyone getting jailed or something terrible happening. From apathetic death threats from New Orleaneans to drive-thru daiquiris (only in Louisiana) to getting yelled at in a dive bar at 7 a.m. by a deranged Ghanaian man who believed we were Canadian spies, I ended up having experiences I wouldn’t have without my buddies’ idiosyncratic, and occasionally puzzling, decision-making. And I’m grateful beyond words.

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