I’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.
Two birds with one stone, right?