Like many middle-class, middle-aged men, I’ve begun the surprisingly laborious process of creating a “man cave.”

The premise of a man cave is simple enough: devote a room of the house wholly your own, sans the entrapments of civility inherited by marriage. A stroll through my home is a coordinated, handsomely furnished experience notably absent of beer hall mirrors, sports paraphernalia and softball trophies. My Y chromosome could use a man cave.

The space set aside for my man cave is less cave and more hole – about 300 windowless sq-feet. My manliness requires little space, so I’m not complaining. Still, I had to delete the swimming pool from the blueprint.

My vision of the manhole (as I’ve begun calling it) is frustratingly blurry and undefined. I have some mandatories: a secret-door entrance, an antique desk decorated with a real human skull, a suit of armor, recessed speakers emitting smooth jazz, a forged diary confessing to fictitious murders, and maybe a neon beer light.

It was easy enough to buy (for far too much) an antique desk. But to my chagrin, I discovered that a real human skull will set you back a couple thousand dollars. Even the fake ones are pricey. Additionally, I know somebody who will draft plans for a secret door, but no one who will actually build one. At least these are challenges fit for a man and his manhole.

Without a budget to acquire new appropriations, I reviewed the inventory of hairy-chested items currently at my disposal: a Batman themed bong, a slightly broken Herman Miller chair, a vintage movie poster of Father Goose, a rubber werewolf mask, a copy of Grey’s Anatomy, a water color of a horse-drawn carriage I painted in high school, a seedy ottoman, a GoDaddy Bowl football signed by Gus Malzahn, a cork bulletin board and an old studio photo of Claudia Cardinale from Once Upon a Time in the West. Not bad.

“You know, that’s the first thing you see,” said Mrs. Angry, pointing to the Claudia Cardinale photo tacked to my bulletin board.


“So she’s naked.”

“She’s wearing a bath towel.”

Waves of disapproval. Already, my manhole was compromised. I took down the photo of a semi-naked Italian actress and replaced it with a snapshot of my son’s ultrasound.

After ordering and assembling an inexpensive swivel chair from Target, I arranged my pieces so that I had at least a start on my manhole. With pride, I snapped a picture and posted it on Facebook.

“It looks like a school office,” somebody remarked.

Well, yeah. I wanted someplace where I could sit down and write. That’s what a manhole is for, correct?

“Where’s the 60-inch TV? The PlayStation? The vintage 80s sports posters?”

I don’t really have that. Listen, I like sports, but sports as décor isn’t really my thing. Did this unsporting attitude impugn the integrity of my manhole? I have a Hamed Haddadi basketball jersey. Perhaps with proper framing from Michael’s, I could hang that up.

The manhole is currently a work in progress. I’d like to rip out the carpet and put in some basketball court hardwood. (That’s kind of sporty.) I have visions of punching out a window over the desk.  Maybe I’ll raid an old graveyard for the skull, I don’t know.

 Meanwhile, I need to find more discreet location for Ms. Cardinale.




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