Jan 12, 2010

Missing: One Man-Cave

I love photos on the walls. I love going to friends' houses and seeing what and who matters to them, what journey they've been on, what they find worthy to display of themselves and their world. So why are there no photos up in my own house?

An online article about "The Decline of the Male Space" contends that
the pendulum has swung from one extreme to the other; instead of creating a world that’s friendly to both male and female space, we’ve created one that benefits female space at the expense of male space.

I left the article to wander room to room, looking vainly for anything of mine on the walls. Any African paintings on recycled cement bags, childhood or travel photos, Guatemalan tapestries, carved wooden masks, even ski posters with inspiring quotes - things that had adorned my life for the 25 years since I was strong enough to push a tack into a wall. I found things I like, things we've created together, our wedding vows, but nothing that is Me. Just a lonely nail where my dream-catcher, given to me by dear Aunt Sally in my rocky adolescent days, was removed yesterday when Sarah finally revealed that she loathes its heaviness in our bedroom.

Just walked around again, counting 9 (nine) wall hangings that are Hers. I do like most of them, but that's not the point. The point is that the author is right, that men have lost their power in the home, settling instead for a mutual agreement practice that ends up usually with the man ceding to the woman's "better taste." Just ask any man who's been asked for his "input" on paint colours.

This is why I get belligerent about not accepting input about my reno projects, my outdoor projects, MY projects. With a chainsaw or a cow or a sledge hammer, I'm in my realm, I'm the boss, I can just Do it, follow my vision and passion without checking in with the other half or my boss or the board. Down comes that tree, just where I'd planned (OK, a bit closer to the chicken coop than I'd planned), and in flows the sunlight just as I'd envisioned. Me and my pitchfork just go ahead and scoop up that manure and lay down fresh straw, and only the cows know. My home may no longer be my palace, but gosh darn it I'm the undisputed King of the Cowshed.

I suppose I could be stronger, demand that the dream catcher and photos etc go up. It's half my house dammit and I should get my own nine hangings. But the reality is that I love my wife and the harmony we have in our shared home, and if an item truly oppresses her then it can't make me happy. If upon reading this she offers to put the dream catcher back up, I'll have to refuse - not out of bitterness, but I could genuinely not feel Joy from it anymore knowing how she feels about it.

So I guess it's time to finally organize my workshop and re-hang all my treasures there, as they have been in the garage or basement or laundry room of all our other homes. I don't need an escape, don't need to drink behind the woodshed or cuss and spit at an all-men's gym. Just need a space (other than my wardrobe) where I see my corny, outlandish, awkward and even sometimes tasteless Me-ness expressed freely. I need my man-cave.


  1. Love this!

    Kaj complains at least twice a year! The problem is, is that his "decorating" is for the purpose of function, "store item in convenient place". For me, it is "make shelf look pretty".

    Now he has recently demanded that he gets one shelf in his own house!! So I obliged him a shelf in the bedroom where no-one can see it!

    Now he is starting to ask me "where can I keep my carving supplies out in the living area so I don't have to keep taking them out and putting them back?".

    I am forlorn! It will be messy and there will be particles... and when he puts them in this prospective place, he's just gonna put it there....he's not gonna think, "how can I arrange this shelf so that it looks neat and organized".

    Just the prospect of his workspace being in the kitchen/dining/living space stresses me out! This must be a univeral phenonmena....

  2. Sherry - How about letting go of your need for everything to be pretty and perfect? Life isn't.

  3. OK my dear Rick, having already conquered this problem in our household I have a simple solution for you. It involves transformation of the garage from a junk storage space into a man's private escape.(even though to me it still looks a bit junky) My husband has adorned the walls of His Space with what he calls treasures, and I call clutter (simply doesnt fit with the home decor,sorry). His 80's cd collection, old magazines, certificates, piles of papers and gadgets, liscence plates, his first TV, I could go on...I believe there may also be a mini poker table and bar fridge in there now too but I cant be sure as there is one simple golden rule: no women allowed. We are both content now. Sometimes I hear him singing out there enjoying his Male Space and his treasures. Makes me happy too that they are out there and not in here. What can I say. I dont mind a few of his photos on the walls though, that should be allowed of course. And that one picture on the wall that his mother gave us. But as for the dream catcher, I'm with Sarah, some things simply gotta GO!!!

  4. Oops Just remembered that I actually took down that picture from his mother last year..didnt match my paint colour choice, sorry!

  5. hey Rick--perhaps yuo can get these guys:http://www.diynetwork.com/man-caves/show/index.html

    to come and build you one for free!