When man weekend goes terribly right

Story highlights

  • College friends reunite every year, celebrate with crazy family portraits
  • Every year involves a facial hair challenge
  • Organizer says weekend is crucial to work/life balance
Even though Facebook makes it easy to ridicule our friends and ourselves, there's just something about a group of guys getting together year after year and memorializing their crazy times in photos that makes us nostalgic and perhaps a bit envious.
Last week, this mancation-photo album blew up in the social sphere.
It is a series of snapshots from a group of college buddies who have been getting together for a guys weekend for the last five years. The highlight of the weekend is a photo shoot at Walmart in which they all dress in a different theme -- always involving facial hair. First it was dirty mustaches, then scary bikers; the next year they were Amish. Most recently, they dressed up as "hunks (and chunks) of burning love." Random strangers asked to take pictures with the group of Elvises.
"We usually stay in character and hit up a local eatery. We take pics Saturday morning, eat lunch, go home and take that ridiculous shit off, and start drinking again," wrote the guy who posted the photos (he prefers to be known by his Reddit username, ayePALINDROMEeye).
The post was upvoted to the front page (Reddit stories are voted up or down by users) and got more than 1,000 comments, including:
"I want a man weekend and I'm not even a man," wrote NotAlana.
The photos now have more than 3 million views on the photo sharing site Imgur.
This isn't the first time we've seen this. In August, CNN's story about five guys who have been recreating the same photo for 30 years became the most popular article on CNN.com for the entire year.
The idea for the portraits came to Jon Gunter, another member of the group, while he was watching "NYPD Blue" one night.
Sgt. Andy Sipowicz was prowling across the television screen in a short sleeve button-down. His moustache, his stare, gave Gunter an idea.
Gunter had already proposed a reunion for the pals he had grown close to during their years at Texas A&M University. After graduation in 2007, jobs, moves and family responsibilities became priorities.
Some of them had moved out of state, making it tough to stay in touch.
Watching Sipowicz, Gunter suddenly knew that facial hair had to be involved in the get-together. Phone calls were made, negotiations ensued. In the end it was decreed that those with jobs that would permit it would grow a "dirty mustache." Those who were follicly challenged would have to improvise.
Those with wives or girlfriends who objected were on their own.
And thus started the tradition that has continued for the past five years. And while the photos are fun, it's the friendship behind the photos that seems to capture the imagination of the Internet.
"I'm very jealous of you and your friends," wrote user Szlafarski.
"This is one of the greatest things I have ever seen," wrote user Frumpi. "Really cheered me up. You guys are awesome."
Gunter said the year they dressed as Amish was particularly memorable. When they went to Chili's for lunch, the manager asked what the group was doing in their town.
"We made up a story about barn razing," Gunter said, explaining it was impossible after that to keep up the charade.
Gunter describes the weekend of few responsibilities and lots of meat wrapped in bacon as a "48-hour tailgate."
"I think it's crucial to mental health and all-around work/life balance," he said. "The wives support us. We support them. They love it as long as it's not at their house."