My husband returned from a judo tournament recently in Atlanta where he shared news of a dear friend. “Man-Cave” was mentioned with frequency. 60-inch plasma TV, not with surround sound, but a speaker that projected the sound out, so that none of the sound was lost to the back of the tv. Very important. “Pool table” and “bar” were mentioned. Guest room and bath, as well. The all important refrigerator and stocked liquor cabinet. My husband does not even drink, but he took note of the quality and quantity of adult beverages available. Indeed, a near complete renovation of a basement to “man-cave”. A place for the trophies, awards and memorabilia from a beloved sport.
A recent post from a friend who has moved to the east coast from California, had a picture of a pool table in a room. The post was titled simply “the new man-cave”. I learned of these “man-caves”, before this term was coined on HGTV. My husband described them as “bunkers”. Bunkers – “shelter” or “fortification”.
As in the fellow veteran who had a hidden room behind a secret door in his house, where he used to “retired” from the grandchildren. Then one day one of the kids spied him coming out of the room and the refuge was no longer a secret. Now all the grandkids want to accompany him there.
I used to think it was a result of PTSD. A need for separation and solitude. I later realized it was a “man” thing. My dad has a bunker. When he had his own business, he had a desk in the office he shared with my mom. In the warehouse, he had another desk, where he would listen to music, read the paper, retreat from the phones and chatter of the front office. At home, he shared an office/library retreat with my mom. That room has stayed a part of the makeup of their new home. Only addition, a computer, that he only uses for entertainment. My dad does have a space in the garage where he has displayed some of his Navy memorabilia and his caps and trophies from softball. If there was more space, I am sure he would have a chair, but it stays too hot most of the year, so he opts for an outdoor seat on the patio. You can find him there most mornings with coffee and the paper.
My husband’s uncle has a little shed where he works on “projects”. He constructs BBQ’s, welding pieces in place. He has electricity out there with his little am/pm radio playing a gospel station. One brother has a game room with TV and video games. Another brother has “game” room that houses just his pool table. However, that game room is as big as his living room.
Ask me about my husband’s bunker, I would tell you that the whole house is his bunker. Then, a couple of years ago, he bought a shed. The shed is where he keeps his tools, motors and various parts. It was purchased initially to replace storage we have in town for the boxes of clothes and things we no longer wear or remember we have. I brought my totes filled with Christmas ornaments to the shed. It was the only time I went to the storage in town. Now, I fumigate the shed for the same reasons, even more so, since we are in the woods and spiders abound. But, the trek from the shed to the house is thirty feet, give or take.
Recently, determined to complete a New Year’s resolution to cut unnecessary expenses, we were cleaning out one of the two storage units we have in town. I mentioned to my husband, that we should pare down our storage items so that all would fit in the shed. My suggestion was met with silence. I paused in my efforts to bag forgotten wrapping paper and bows from a Christmas long, long ago, looking at my husband, who was studiously trashing a collection of seven-year old MotorTrend magazines. I understood the shed was for storage once we eliminated these units, I threw out there, recalling the conversation we had when the shed was delivered. A long quiet pause developed and then he merely said that he had begun to rethink that. I left it alone.
I have a picture that I took of him sitting in the doorway of his shed, not long after we bought it. I had given him an old “boom box” that did not play CD’s, even though it was bought for that purpose. But, it could play the old cassettes we found in a shoe box or bottom of a packed box of memorabilia from our lives before we met. He had Johnny “Guitar” Watson playing and he was cleaning parts and organizing tools. I was reminded of when we would drive up to his uncle place and see him on the porch of his shed, sitting at a workbench. It was a “retreat” of sorts for them, to have solitude, a controlled environment of wood, drill bits, metal shavings, oil, and gasoline. As in the man-caves, with pool cues, cd’s, woofer, video games, leather, wood, plasma and remotes. A “shelter” (retreat) where the volume could be as loud as the insulation allowed, where trash-talk was the rule, and the rules of the games were “house rules”.