Exploring the man cave

Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2009

By legal definition, I am a man, in that I own a Y chromosome, with all adherent rights and privileges, forever and ever throughout the universe, no matter how much Crystal Light I drink. Apparently, this entitles me to something called a "man cave."

As a slang term, "man cave" belongs in the same lexicon as "manbag," "mandals" and the ever-popular "Bro-zillian waxing." There's even a reality series about man caves - the creatively-titled "Man Caves"-on the DIY channel. You know a secret's out when there's a reality series about it, even on some crappy cable network no one watches.

While the term is new, as an idea, the man cave has been around since, well, since the cave man. Essentially, it is a male sanctuary (or "mantuary"), a dedicated area for a man to be a man, either by himself or with friends. Sort of like the YMCA, except without the communal showers.

Of course, I know about man caves now. But two weeks ago, when I completed a few almost-level improvements to my garage, I didn't know my man cave from a hole in the ground.

I wasn't doing anything crazy in there: just making myself a warm dry place to hang out and break small household appliances trying to fix them. Oh, and listen to prog rock, which, like whiskey and TV shows about building/destroying stuff (which are especially good accompanied by whisky), my wife absolutely can't stand. In her defense, not too many other wives dig Yes, whiksey, and back-to-back-to-back episodes of "How It's Made," either. (Hm. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a pretty dope night. Should we say Friday, 9:30? My man cave or yours?)

Now, I wear my pants lower than a 15-year-old snow boarder. So every time I showed off my recent handiwork-shelving, gear racks, workbench, sound system - to another friend who said "nice man cave," I kept thinking maybe I'd accidentally let them slip a little too low, if you know what I mean.

See, to me, a "man cave" sounds less like a rec room or workshop than something you'd need a proctologist for. Or, if we're talking about people, a "man cave" would be someone who cuts you off making a left across two lanes.

I think it's the "cave" part that gets me. I mean, sure, the man cave in my garage is dark, and yes, it's wet - show me a man cave in Juneau that isn't at least a little wet. And yes, there are a few Cheetos stalagmites growing .... Oh, no wait, I mean stalactites - the ones that come down from the ceiling. Yes, a Cheetos stalactite. Okay, and a little Cheetos guano, too.

But I ask you: what kind of man cave has a Subaru Forester parked right in the middle of it, not to mention a Subaru Forester with two carseats?

Which brings me to another point: what do you call entering and exploring a man cave, anyway? "Man-spelunking?" Now that definitely sounds like something you'd need a proctologist for.

Still, I can't call it a garage. "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, come to think of it, "garage" sounds kind of dandified, like eating a "croissant" instead of a good-old American "crescent roll." Or French kissing someone rather than Freedom kissing him or her, which, while admittedly less hot, is a lot better for your parents to catch you doing on their couch, especially if they're Fox News watchers.

Anyway, the best alternative name for my man cave/garage is this: The Lerkim. My daughter is 2; she asks to read "The Lorax" no fewer than 20 times a day. I am a marshmallow, so I do. Anyway, there is a character who not only lives, but "lurks in his Lerkim, cold under the roof, where he knit his own clothes out of miff-muffered moof" (which is some kind of tech-wick, I'm guessing?). I think that sounds pretty badass, lurking in my Lerkim.

Oh, wait, I just thought of the something. The Lerkim lurker is the same guy who cuts down the very last Truffula Tree-no matter your stance on commercial logging, I'm sure we can all agree that only a real throbbing man cave would deforest a Dr. Seuss book. So, I can't really, in good faith, go with Lerkim, no matter how cool it sounds. I'll just have to lurk somewhere else-Lerkiteria? Lerkidrome? Lerkmenistan?

Lerkmenistan it is.

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