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The Social Club: A Shelter in the Storm

bigstock-137615117-1“Hey, Matt, come with me. I am going to my satellite office. Bring your laptop; you can do some work,” Uncle John said.

As I hurriedly grabbed my belongings, I visualized Uncle John’s office. It was probably a nondescript building tucked in a tony Minneapolis suburb. I wondered if Uncle John had a corner office.

Within minutes, I was walking into an unassuming strip mall in an affluent Minneapolis suburb. But there were no humming laptops or frazzled secretaries greeting Uncle John.

Instead, Jack and a hearty bunch of regulars warmly embraced my uncle.

Welcome to the Lynville Social Club: Uncle John’s second office. And, on some days, maybe his first.

The Lynville Social Club is more than a club for cigar aficionados; it represents a place for Uncle John and the 150-plus members to pause life. At least for a couple hours. Inside the wood-paneled club, the graybeards exchange smart-alecky comments about the topic du jour: wives, politics, sports.

Amidst the wafting cigar smoke and bawdy comments, a warmth enveloped the room. There was a kinship. These guys had teased each other for years–maybe decades; anything–and everything–was fair game. If I had stayed there a little longer, I am sure Jack and the guys would have teased me about my Iowa Hawkeyes shirt. Or maybe my tight-fisted ways.  

As I walked out–a smile plastered on my face, I rhetorically asked, “Where is my Lynville Social Club?” Do I have a place to unwind completely? A place where responsibilities take a backseat for relaxation. At least for a couple of hours.

These spots–wherever they are–are the mental equivalent of a deep-tissue massage. And unlike the Lynville Social Club, most don’t require an initiation fee and pricey cigars. My late Grandpa Arnold ate at the Pickwick restaurant for 90 years; he had his own seat in the formal dining room. As he munched on the legendary onion rings, he would regale the staff with humorous stories. My late mother was a mahjong regular; she ignored the pressing phone calls from her three boys (“Mom, when are you coming home? Can you stop at the store?”) to play, tease, and laugh with her girlfriends.

From the Lynville Social Club to the Pickwick to Mama Loeb’s bridge club, there is a  commonality: a sense of belonging. Those pressing life concerns? Leave them at the door and enjoy a cigar or appetizer or new hand. And a couple good-natured barbs, too.  

For many millennials–particularly those living in far-flung metropolises, it is an ongoing struggle to find our Cheers refuge. We don’t need everyone to know our name; we just want someone to know it. And for those with mental health concerns or social anxiety, it can be even harder to find our personal sanctuary.

But a weekly basketball game, a book club, or–yes–a support group can be your safe port in life’s storm. The most important thing: You have a (life) raft to help navigate those choppy waters. And maybe a cigar.

The Social Club: A Shelter in the Storm

Matthew Loeb

Matthew Loeb, a Seattle-based attorney, is a mental health advocate. You can contact him at

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APA Reference
Loeb, M. (2018). The Social Club: A Shelter in the Storm. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 12 Dec 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.