A Room of My Own

garageI’ve never been much for ‘man-caves.’ Maybe that’s because I never had one – with a couple of kids and a string of relatively modest homes, there really wasn’t a lot of extra space for a room I could fill with big-screen TVs, blow-up Hooters dolls, Corona-laden mini-fridges and display cases crowded with the many trophies and medals documenting my glorious high school band career. There have been a couple of ‘offices’ where I commandeered an extra bedroom, plopping down a desk to give me a place where I could do a little writing, though I stopped short of peeing in all the corners to mark it off as mine. I guess the closest I’ve come to having my very own testosterone lair would be, sadly, the garage.

For the record, can I just say that the garage is not a suitable man-cave. It’s not like I have furniture and appliances out there, allowing me to retreat to its welcoming confines when the world starts to close in or my fragile guy-ego gets bruised. It’s too small for that – just squeezing two cars in requires not only a shoe-horn but the deft maneuvering of a cruise ship captain coming into port. It’s like an oversized, 3-D Tetris game – bikes dangle from the rafters, yard tools and the lawn mower claim one corner, the trash bins nestle precisely under a set of shelves, extension ladders stand along one wall (and can only be accessed when the door is closed), assorted bricks and pavers (gifted to us by the previous owners and held on to because “they might come in handy one day,” in the words of my hoarder mother) lead a nomadic existence as they get moved from place to place to make way for more incoming flotsam, and the vehicles – when they can be pulled in – fit just so.

Another set of shelves curve around the back corner of the garage and stick out so far that I have to nudge them with the bumper of my car in order to get the door closed behind me. Shelves that are full of boxes that are full of things long ago forgotten but dragged along like the Bones of Joseph because, you know, those MC Hammer parachute pants just might come back into fashion some day. My dad’s ashes even sat out there for several years, his penance – and my passive-aggressive response – for having the bad form to leave his postmortem affairs in the hands of the sons he had little to do with during his premortem stay on this earth. We don’t need no stinking therapy!

And now that I’m back to the renovation project, I’m trashing my would-be sanctuary. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t have a proper workshop in this house so when the power tools come out, everyone parks in the street until the dust and the epithets clear.

I have a friend back in Indiana who claims that every time he leaves his garage door open for more than a few minutes, complete strangers begin to gather in the driveway, wanting to know how much he’s asking for various items. My garage doesn’t elicit that sort of response – instead, passers-by tend to recoil in horror and hurry their children along. It serves as the staging area for all the debris generated by my home improvement projects – flooring, carpet, padding, trim, doors, toilets, all have graced its cold concrete floor.

In fact, one can follow the chronology of those projects through careful analysis of the various layers of dust and dirt that have accumulated on any stationary object. Digging down, you’ll first encounter the light-colored deposits from the most recent epoch when the atmosphere was dense with clouds of noxious spray-paint, then move into a thicker beige layer that marks a lengthy period when sanding and cutting of lumber dominated, finally reaching the oldest sediments of all, a dark band of grime and grit laid down in the earliest days of demolition. So I’m not messy, I’m simply preserving the historical record for future generations.

And for all the ‘necessary’ crap stored out there, the garage is still where things go to die (no pun intended, dad) – those items that have truly reached the end of their life-cycle but that I just don’t have the heart to toss on the scrap heap. For instance, styrofoam. I can’t find anyone nearby who recycles those huge white blocks of the stuff in which most everything comes packed. Yet I won’t throw any of it away because, well, what would Captain Planet do? A landfill is no place for styrofoam, which has roughly the same shelf-life as an uneaten McDonalds hamburger. So it appears I’m hanging on to it (in a growing collection of overstuffed garbage bags wedged into every spare corner) until someone around here does start to recycle it. Or maybe I can fashion it into furniture for the man-cave.foam table

Two birds with one stone, right?

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10 thoughts on “A Room of My Own

  1. Your garage sounds a lot like ours! We are also able to shoe-horn two cars into ours, they compete for space with our washer and dryer, tools, bikes, and general stuff (no dead bodies – cremated or not – though). Our city’s recycling has just started to take Styrofoam so at least we don’t have to store it or craft furniture out of it.

  2. I would only secretly admit this to you. I was in the attic going thru some old papers etc. Feeling the project was getting bigger I SAT down to rest on a styrofoam cooler. Not furniture grade! Sheesh…I gotta sneak this out after dark lest hubby starts calling Senior Neighbors for a referral.

  3. What a delightful post — partly because of what i recognize of myself in it, and partly because I’m so glad to have finally moved beyond the bane of the garageless: the storage unit. When my mom still was alive, she was a great stuff collector, and refused to let loose of anything. She wasn’t big on styrofoam, except for packing peanuts, but boxes? Oh, my. Whenever she got a gift, she checked out the box first, and the gift second. You’d be surprised how many broken-down boxes you can stash under a bed.

  4. Great post!
    I’ve encouraged my husband to have a man cave when the smaller bedroom is no longer occupied. I think he’ll enjoy setting up a hideous recliner, hanging some obscenely huge television and displaying various ‘decor’ items I’d just as soon set fire to. I’m sure he’ll nap well there, leaving me The Quiet Room all to myself.
    My uncle recently passed and my mother brought me all the family military memorabilia. It’s great, except my uncle kept it in his man cave, and two bowls of vinegar cannot remove 40 years of filth from the glass. It’s still black on my newspaper. I’d encourage you to clean or have cleaned your man cave, should you ever have one.

    We had a similar experience with our garage a while back — and when we first moved in, the recycles were exactly as you described. I’m not insisting, but if you’d like to giggle at my expense, here’s the link: https://jolenemottern.com/2015/11/06/the-garage-a-rant/

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