Try as I might to deny it, there’s no disputing the science: I have a Y chromosome. The fact-based truth is, biologically speaking, I’m a man — no matter how zaftig a figure I cut in yoga pants (thanks to all the women’s marching I’ve been doing lately, my glutes are especially banging).
In addition to manhood’s traditional rights and privileges — e.g. fair contractor quotes, hassle-free outdoor peeing, the Presidency of the United States (still) — it also entitles me to something called a “man cave.”
As a slang term, “man cave” belongs to the same modern lexicon as “mandals,” “manbun,” and the ever-popular “Bro-zilian waxing.”
But of course, as a concept, the man cave has been around since the cave man. Essentially, it’s a male sanctuary (or “man-ctuary”), a dedicated space for a man to be a man, either by himself or in the company of friends. Sort of like the YMCA, except without the communal showers. Or maybe with them — it’s your cave, bro.
Sure, I know all about man caves now that I’ve inadvertently built myself one. But until very recently — before a few minor improvements to my garage, and then, with leftover materials, a modest expansion of our sound system — I couldn’t recognize a man cave from a hole in the ground.
And it’s not like I was up to anything crazy: just carving out a warm dry place to hang out and break small household appliances trying to fix them. Oh, and crank up all my old Rush albums, which, like TV shows about building and/or wrecking stuff, my wife absolutely can’t stand. Although, in her defense, not many other people enjoy disassembling toaster ovens, Canadian power-trios and back-to-back alternating episodes of “How It’s Made” and “Destroyed in Seconds.” (Hm. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty dope night. Shall we say Thursday? My man cave or yours?)
Now, I sling my pants lower than a 15-year-old snow boarder. So every time I showed off my recent handiwork and my friends said “nice man cave,” I kept thinking maybe I’d let my boxers slip a little too low, if you know what I mean. The other night, I did a triple take when my wife told me my man cave was threatening to consume the whole house.
Because to me, a “man cave” sounds less like a room than something you’d discuss with your proctologist; in other words, if we’re talking about people, a “man cave” would be the guy who cuts you off making a left turn through a yield sign.
It’s mostly the “cave” part that gets me. I mean, sure, my garage is dark, and yes, it’s damp — show me a garage in Juneau that isn’t. Okay, there are a few Cheetos stalagmites growing in there. ... And it’s starting to accumulate a nice, thick layer of Pringles guano, too. Ah, Pringles guano, the very basis of the man cave ecosystem.
Which brings me to my next point: What do you call entering and exploring a man cave, anyway? “Man-spelunking?” “He-lunking?” Now that definitely sounds like it requires proctologic consult.
Still, I can’t call it a garage, either — “let’s hang out in the garage” doesn’t sound very enticing to anyone, except maybe a mechanic, and even then, it’s still work. Plus, “garage” seems kind of dandified, like eating a “croissant” instead of a good-old American “Croissan’wich.”
And so I’ve begun considering alternative names for my man cave, because above all else, fighting sexism begins in the home (it’s certainly not going to happen in the White House, which now contains the biggest man cave of them all). I want my children to understand, in no uncertain terms, that futzing around, blasting music and wasting time are all healthy, time-honored, gender-neutral pursuits. Slacking off: the great unifier.
Though I haven’t yet reached a firm decision, I have identified a leading contender. My son asks to read “The Lorax” no fewer than 10 times a day. In it, a character not only lives, but “lurks,” in his “Lerkim.” That’s badass. Man, if I had a Lerkim, just think of all the great lurking I could do.
No, wait. I thought of something else. The Lerkim lurker is the same character that cuts down the very last Truffula Tree. No matter your stance on commercial logging, I’m sure we can all agree only a real throbbing man cave would deforest a beloved Dr. Seuss classic. So, I can’t really, in good faith, go with Lerkim, either. I’ll just have to lurk somewhere else, then. Lerkiteria? Lerkidrome? Lerkmenistan?
Lerkmenistan it is.
• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday.