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Taking your Hangout From Man to Dude

Axe throwing, fishing, driving fast, and other dude fun.

Former New York Times columnist Jennifer 8. Lee first defined “man dates” in 2005 as “two heterosexual men socializing without the crutch of business or sports. It is two guys meeting for the kind of outing a straight man might reasonably arrange with a woman.”

Their purpose, she continued, is for men of a certain age—more specifically the post-college age, when life becomes more structured and free time more scarce—to have a reason to get together and socialize on a one-on-one basis.

But as great as man dates might be, it seems that almost anything could fall under Ms. Lee’s very expansive definition. Dinner at a restaurant? Man date. Walking your dogs at the park? Man date. Going to a concert? You get the idea. . . .

But a “dude date” is something much more specific. At its essence, it’s an outing that, while not exclusive to men, is more likely to be arranged between men. Though it may not be a true “sport” or purposeful exercise, it usually involves some form of physical movement and activity. And most likely it’s not an every-weekend thing.

So, while attending a baseball game or playing a round of golf may be your go-to way to spend an afternoon during Men’s Health Month this June (or as a Father’s Day gift—hint, hint, ladies), here are a few verb-centric ideas to take your next hang-out from “man” to “dude.”

Chesapeaking—aka Getting on the Waterboating copy

Though “Wedding Crashers” famously branded Maryland as the state of crabcakes and football, we all know that our brand also means enjoying the Bay.

The main dude in my life, my 75-year-old dad, takes me or one of his friends on his Ranger Tug out joy rides on the South or Severn rivers with him often. It’s the one and only dude date that never gets old. Proving the cross-generational appeal of dude dates on the Bay, 27-year-old Chris Wilkinson of Chesapeake Beach, says going out on his Carolina Skiff for a half-day of fishing or crabbing on the Bay is the perfect way to catch up with his friends.

“While I happen to have a girlfriend who loves fishing and crabbing almost as much as me, that’s not the case for a bunch of my friends,” says Wilkinson. “Once or twice a month we’ll go out for a couple hours, see if we can catch anything, and just relax and talk about what’s going on in our lives. To be honest, I think we’d keep doing it even if we never caught anything because it’s so nice to just be outside and chill together.”

If you don’t happen to own or have access to whatever type of floatable you desire, a quick Google search will show that there are tons of places for you and a friend to rent equipment, from Annapolis Sailing School’s Rainbow 24s to kayaks and SUPs from Patuxent Adventure Center in Solomons, or Capital SUP in Annapolis.

46488559 1708482155930620 4922679334700843008 nAiming and Throwing Things

If you’re more of a land-lover, you might prefer to relax with a buddy over what could be called a semi-sport: an activity that involves action, competition and maybe even a bit of friendly betting but, very importantly, little to no cardiovascular work.

Shooting pool, for example, can provide an ideal environment for a good dude date. “Pool makes you think and forces you to focus but also allows you to talk to each other, so it’s a nice way to catch up with friends,” said 29-year-old Andre Jones, who plays at Union Jack’s in Annapolis, the Bank Shot Bar and Grill in Laurel, and Center Pocket in Crofton.

The same can be said for any of the many other target-facing activities: shooting guns, shooting arrows (I highly recommend trying a class at Anne Arundel Archers in Gambrills, if you’ve never tried it), throwing darts, or even throwing axes at Urban Axes in Baltimore like those you’ve probably seen at the Renaissance Faire.

One of my coworkers, in fact, loved axe-throwing so much after trying it just once with his sons at Autobahn Indoor Speedway in Jessup, that he bought his own set on Amazon, constructed his own targets, and has made throwing a regular post-work or weekend bonding activity with his boys. “It’s pretty awesome. We throw, we talk about stuff, and we relax. I highly recommend it to dudes out there.”

Driving—Go-Karts, Cars and more!

This last category involves four wheels and horsepower.

Starting with the smallest, go-karting is a great activity for a group of dudes because it allows everyone to participate at once and, of course, talk some friendly smack to each other both before and after the race. There are plenty of tracks in Central Maryland including the half-mile, 20-turn Crofton Go-Kart Raceway croftongokartraceway.com; Autobahn, with its Italian pro-karts that can reach 50 miles-per-hour; and the Big Easy Speedway, offering both single- and two-seater karts, at Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro.

Moving up in both speed and cost—though, notably, there happens to be a Groupon currently available—is Velocity Driving in Waldorf, where you and your most adrenaline-loving buddy can bond over the shared experience of driving two, four, or seven laps around Regency Furniture Stadium in your choice of an Aston Martin, Corvette Z06, Lamborghini, Nissan GT-R, or Porsche 911 Turbo S.

heavy metal playground
As the lucky co-owner of a family farm with a John Deere backhoe and multiple tractors, however, my top behind-the-wheel recommendation is taking a trip to the Heavy Metal Playground in Boonsboro, where anyone eight years of age and older can dig holes, move dirt, bury and stack tires, and even smash cars for 15, 30, or 45 minutes.

—Steve Adams

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