The day had arrived. It was time to visit the lodge. I was under the impression that the dinners that most people get invited to tend to be somewhat casual, a great way to get to know some of the members and figure out if Freemasonry was really something you were interested in.
I parked near the entrance of the lodge and walked towards the door. I saw another man who looked equally confused and nervous, he took note of my suit and tie and asked "GOSH! Do I need a tie for this!?". I confessed that I had no idea, and that this would be my first visit. He ran back to his car to get a tie. Needless to say I was even more nervous.
I walked up to the door. It was sturdy with a brass Square and Compass fastened to the door handles. I walked into what looked... a lot like a 1950's rec room. However the room was set with tables, table cloths, place settings, and everyone was fairly dressed up. I introduced myself to some people and I was informed that tonight was a very special night. The lodge would be giving something called a "Hiram Award". I had no idea what that was, but it sounded important.
I met the Worshipful Master very briefly. Another member was kind enough to give me a tour of his lodge. He put me at ease. He was a very intelligent man with long hair, one of the few not wearing a suit. We found common ground as musicians and guitarists. He explained he was a "Past Master" of this lodge, and what that meant. He showed me the portraits of the many previous "Masters" and some interesting antique curiosities. He pointed to some closed doors and explained that inside was the actual "lodge". After the tour I began to settle in and enjoyed a very nice meal and met some very genuine and kind people.
When dinner was finished, everyone started walking towards "THE LODGE" for the "HIRAM AWARD!" Not having any real understanding of what was going on, I honestly freaked out a bit and blurted "I don't think I'm supposed to go in there!" I was assured that I was welcome, but in my confusion I made up some BS excuse and took off, thinking I would only be allowed to join the dinner.
I left. I was confused, a little embarrassed, but still very intrigued.