What do you get when you combine two Marines (including a former drill sergeant), at least three lawyers, a graduate of Annapolis, an ordained minister, a realtor, two independent businessmen, three or four county planners, a retired sports editor and perhaps three or four other retired servicemen types?
How about the march of the Alpha males?
This was the overabundant collection of testosterone that composed the Davidson County Civil War Round Table on its recent foray into Chattanooga this past weekend. Who, exactly, do you leave in charge here?
It sounds like it could be a recipe for disaster. After all, most of us left Davidson County on two different days in separate vehicles with the calculated aim of converging at the Chattanooga Comfort Inn sometime on Friday. One member of our group even flew in from Arkansas. In all, there were probably about 18 of us, although I'm not certain anybody stood still long enough for anything resembling an accurate head count.
But somehow, it all worked out. And in one magical moment, nearly all of us arrived together for the first time during the trip on the top of Lookout Mountain Friday afternoon. That was cool.
Well, it almost all worked out.
Midway through our five-hour guided tour Saturday of the Chickamauga battlefield conducted by another Alpha male, a college history professor, we broke for lunch. Most of us got the message.
Actually, I think it was more of a miscommunication. He was in a car that was about to break off from the main group to head to Atlanta, and somehow, he missed hitching a ride with somebody else to the restaurant. We were probably two-thirds of the way through our meal when someone asked, "Where's Andy?"
I'm not sure how this can happen in an era of cell phones, iPhones, iPads, MaxiPads and what else, but it did.
In fact, it happened to me last year. We were at Antietam last April. Most of us had taken the afternoon off for our senior power naps, but apparently, as the Alphas woke up and headed off in their various social groups to their various destinations, I'm not sure anyone bothered to ask, "Where's Bruce?"
I made a couple of cell phone calls to the numbers I had with me, but those calls went directly to voice mails. Lot of good that did. I was left to wander the streets of Shepherdstown on my own for several hours until, walking back the couple miles to the motel, one vehicle of our group happened to drive by and gave me a lift for the final grueling 400 yards.
I've been told this also happened to yet another member — the drill sergeant — several years ago.
As Alphas, I guess we're expected to be able to fend for ourselves in these situations, and that's fine, even though it's a little disconcerting to be left behind somewhere when you're 350 miles from home, without wheels, and all you can do is leave appropriately air-turned-blue-laced voice mails to people you consider to be some of your best friends at most other times.
Andy, as it turned out, waited patiently for us at the battlefield's visitors' center. We brought him his lunch in a to-go box, so he was happily refueled and refreshed for the second half of our tour. He remained remarkably calm.
Maybe he knew it was just his turn.
With this precedent for losing its members already established for this club, I'm kind of wondering where next year's trip will be? The Wilderness perhaps?
I suppose we could pepper the group with a few Beta males here and there to kind of act as file closers. The only trouble with that is who admits to being a Beta male? And once you put a Beta in charge, doesn't he then become an Alpha? So then you're back to where you started, which makes us all Omega men. I don't know. It's all Greek to me.