Okay, the sadness I was experiencing last week has finally ebbed enough for me to make good on my promise to do a blog about more joyous times. If you recall, at the end of “So Sad”, I pledged to let you know why my stay at the Pioneer Inn was so memorable. I also said that it would be a joy reliving those glorious moments, and it will be. That week was unquestionably one of the most wonderful periods of my life.
It made me happy. So happy.
It made me happy. So happy.
This glorious span of five-plus days revolved around a Human Resource seminar in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and took place the summer of 1990. The setting was the rustic Pioneer Inn resort, nestled on sparkling Lake Winnebago.
This resplendent lodge featured 182 beautiful guest rooms, 10 suites and complete conference and retreat facilities. An award-winning restaurant overlooking the lake was available for your dining pleasure.
Other amenities included a nightclub, an indoor/outdoor pool, whirlpool, a fitness room and a game room. Available outside was a sizable marina, watercraft rentals, a bike/walking path, volleyball courts and a miniature golf course.
This place had it all and it made me happy. So happy.
When I checked in early Sunday evening. I had barely put my luggage away before there was a knock on my door. My “next door neighbor”, John, had seen me entering my room and he figured that I might be there for the same reason. He was right, we were both attending the same seminar.
The next morning I met the rest that were there for the training session. The group was comprised of 20 individuals from different parts of Wisconsin. Besides John and myself, there were only two other males. That’s right, 16 women and 4 men. If my Tremper High School math serves me correctly, that’s a 4 to 1 ratio.
Are you beginning to see why I was happy? So happy.
The seminar incorporated many interactive projects that included a great deal of role-playing. This provided an excellent way to get to know the others. For some reason, the more boisterous characters seemed to gravitate toward me. It didn’t take long before I realized that this was going to be fun. And this was just the seminar.
For the most part, the schedule was class from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm with an hour off for lunch in the marvelous resort restaurant. That left plenty of time to enjoy the many features offered at the Pioneer Inn and to explore Oshkosh. I also continued to become more acquainted with my new classmates.
Typically, the day would end with a number of us meeting in the nightclub for a drink. At first, we would only discuss the seminar. But once we had become more familiar with each other, we started joking around, telling stories and having some laughs.
The second night that our group assembled in the lounge, we noticed a poster promoting a musical group that would be appearing beginning Thursday evening. That being our last night together, we immediately decided that we would make that our going away party. We agreed to try to get as many people from our seminar to attend.
This was going to be a blast. I was happy. So happy.
When Thursday arrived, it was bittersweet. Sure, there was the get-together at the nightclub, complete with a live band, but it was a farewell party. More than likely, the next morning would be the last time that I would ever see these people.
Fortunately something happened to take my mind off of this fact. Someone had noticed a sign advertising one-dollar margaritas. There was going to be a pre-party party at the pub just up the road from the Pioneer Inn. There was no doubt that this would add to the merriment.
At 5 o’clock sharp a gregarious group of twelve started the two-block trek to quench its collective thirst. Unfortunately we were greeted with some disappointing news. Evidently the margarita special was on Wednesday night. We were crestfallen.
Our frowns were quickly turned upside when the barkeep informed us that Thursday’s special was 10-cent beer. That’s right, beer was only a dime a cup. It almost made me wish that I had not quit drinking. I could have done some serious damage to my liver at that price, but I thought better of it.
Needless to say our merry band of human resource types was adequately lubricated when it was time to head back to the Pioneer Inn for the real party. That short hike was chock-full of staggering, weaving and hilarity.
It’s safe to say that I was happy. So happy.
When we finally made it back to the nightclub, we were greeted by four more of our classmates and a Prince tribute band. Not exactly my favorite type of music, but hey, the place was jumping and I was enjoying my company. I was having a great time.
Then it happened. One of the ladies from our group asked me to dance with her. After getting over the initial shock, I politely explained that I wasn’t comfortable dancing, especially to a song that fast. Smiling, she grumbled something about not being done with me. Relieved, I went back to my diet Coke and continued telling jokes.
A bit later, the band was playing a slow ballad. Suddenly I was jerked from my seat by another one of my female classmates and dragged by my hand onto the dance floor. Hey, I was a lot smaller in 1990. But that’s a story for another day and another blog.
I had barely started to enjoy the slow dance when the lady who had first asked me to dance abruptly grabbed my shoulder, pulling me away. She blurted out, “He’s mine.” She then added, “I thought you didn’t dance?”, and led me away. Sheepishly I shrugged my shoulders and went with my new dance partner.
The remainder of the evening was a blur. I had never received so much attention from peoples that I hardly new. And they were of the opposite sex, no less! I couldn’t believe what was happening.
The Friday morning session was short and sweet. We traded goodbyes and awkward smiles while exchanging business cards and phone numbers. Deep down I knew that I would never hear from these wonderful people again, much less see any of them.
And I was right. Oh, I might have received a card from one of the ladies, but never again did I see anyone from that incredible week at the Pioneer Inn. They are all just memories. Magnificent and fantastic memories.
That’s why I’m still happy. So happy.
Believe it or not, I might be able to pull one last story from my experiences at the memorable Pioneer Inn. We shall see. Until next time…from the booth.