Matt and I were best friends in college. "Mad Dog," as he was known back then, was the kind of guy who knew how to pull anyone into a party. It's been 10 years since we graduated and things have, understandably, changed between us. Life happened and now Mad Dog is just Matt and "Wild Man" (my college nickname) is back to being just Walter - although I think we’re both happy with that change.
When I found out that my old buddy was expecting his first child, I knew what it would take to rekindle that friendship and celebrate: a night at Mohegan Sun with our best college buds.
Getting the evening started
Matt happily agreed to my plan; I picked up Howard and Pete and the four of us headed to Uncasville on the double. After checking into our 10th-floor hotel rooms (a definite upgrade from the dorm rooms we shared), we walked over to The Lansdowne Irish Pub & Music House to unwind. As we listened to a cover of "Whiskey in the Jar" and sipped Guinness, we discovered that catching up was easy - a decade had passed, but we all had a ton in common. But now Mad Dog - still the life of the party - was going to be a dad soon!
After a late lunch of Thai wings and stuffed potato skins, we headed out to the casino. Matt and I started our gaming side-by-side at the slots in Casino of the Sky and then joined the others at the blackjack tables.
Every win, we cheered each other on - buddies forever.
Before we knew it, it was time for our reservation at Michael Jordan’s Steak House. Being from Illinois, Matt and Pete have worshipped at the altar of MJ for decades; Howard and I listened to them rattle off statistics that proved Air Jordan’s dominance and I sunk my teeth into the best Porterhouse I’d ever had: perfectly marbled with a ginger jus that was incredible! Matt insisted that Michael himself blessed his filet, and no one could argue with that.
Feeling like high rollers, we ambled down to Clay Pipe for some cigars and scotch. There were 150 cigars to choose from, but Howard wanted something special - he recommended Ashton Double Magnum cigars.
"To celebrate the newest member of your family, Matt," he said.
We toasted to Matt's happy news.
We weren’t those kids in college anymore, but we were still ready for a little more celebratory fun.
Fun at the night club and on the links
I admit I thought that I would feel my age going to VISTA Lounge at Wombi Rock. Luckily, VISTA could not have been more welcoming. The four of us started out at a spot that overlooked the dance floor. Above us were glowing, crystal-like rock outcroppings that seemed to point to the star-riddled sky.
After sleeping like stones, we were a bit bleary-eyed the next morning. Luckily, our breakfast at Seasons Buffet was just what we needed. After coffee, omelets, bagels and more sausages than we’d consume in the real world, we had the necessary power to take on a round of golf.
I piloted us off to Mohegan Sun Golf Club, an 18-hole course about 20 minutes away. None of us were at championship level, but getting out in the fresh air felt amazing. The well-maintained course was beautifully situated with mountains in the distance, and as we compared mulligans at Pautipaug Pub I felt at peace.
I had worried that the changes in our lives would change our friendship. I might not be Wild Man anymore, and Matt might no longer be Mad Dog, but reconnecting at Mohegan Sun with our old pals helped me realize that our friendship was getting better with age. We'll definitely be back, and I’ve got my eye on the brand new Earth Tower which offers opportunities to make these reunions more frequent.
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