‘Man caves' a sanctuary for the testosterone set - Catholic Online
Before setting foot in a so-called "man cave," it's always best to be aware of the cave-dweller's rules. Just ask "Chicago" Joe Hofman.
The San Ramon, Calif., resident maintains a stringent decorum in his special room _ one brimming with movie posters and sports memorabilia, neon signage, a teeth-rattling 1,200-watt sound system, two arcade games and a hideous mounted fish.
It's essential, Hofman insists, that visitors be prepared to chill out and leave "life's B.S." at the door, and, at all times, respect the sanctity of the man cave.
"My wife knows the rules," he says. "There are certain things that we simply won't discuss in the man cave. It's like a shrine. It's like not talking in church."
For the uninitiated, a man cave _ aka man room, mantuary _ is a space specifically reserved for the male member of the family. Whether it's a loft, a basement, a converted garage or shed, it serves as a safe haven where he can escape the manly pressures of the world to engage in manly hobbies, store his manly collectibles and guzzle a manly beverage.
The man-cave dweller can go there either to be alone with his thoughts, or to hang with his buds, usually doing so without fear of female reprisal. Think of it as a grown-up version of the treehouse or fort.
"For me, it's mostly about control," says Robert Lee, whose suburban man cave in Fremont, Calif., is stocked with, among other things, John Wayne lobby cards, "Star Trek" action figures and a "Batman" graphic novel library. "You want to feel like you have control over at least one piece of your life. You want a place to call your own."
The concept apparently is growing in appeal. According to a survey by ServiceMagic.com, 40 percent of the respondents said there is a man cave in their home. Another 13 percent said their cave is in the planning or construction stages.
There's even a weekly television show on the DIY network called "Man Caves." Hosted by licensed contractor Jason Cameron and former NFL star Tony Siragusa, the program dispatches work crews into residences to create the "ultimate guy hangouts."
"The majority of our clients talk about how they feel that the house isn't really theirs," says Cameron. "They gave the OK and agreed to certain things (in the design and decor) just to cooperate and go along with their wives. Now they want their own space."
Cameron says that most of the projects on the show actually are initiated with calls from wives who "feel guilty" because they've taken over so much of the house.
"But some of them have a hard time removing themselves from the process," he says. "They want to pick the colors and to have input on the design. We have to tell them: No doilies. No scented candles."
On the other hand, officially sanctioned provisions are limited only by the imagination and budgetary concerns. At bare minimum, the typical list of manly must-haves contains a cushy recliner, a stereo, a cooler/refrigerator and, of course, man's best friend _ the awe-inspiring flat-screen television.
Man-cave themes can also vary widely. For example, Jeff Von Ward of Pinole Valley, Calif., set up his garage to resemble a classic arcade hall with 50 "old-school" games including Asteroids, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Music buff John Mulford of Concord, Calif., has a room he calls "the hole" filled with rock 'n' roll memorabilia, a huge vinyl record collection and vintage guitars.
But Dave Baker decided to stick with the ever-popular sports theme. When he and his wife, Marcy, moved into their Dublin, Calif., home a couple of years ago, Dave, a passionate Raiders fan, immediately claimed the garage as his own and had it painted silver and black. Then came the guy-centric decor: hordes of sports paraphernalia including several keepsakes from his youth-league days.
"It's like taking a trip down memory lane when I go in there," Dave says. "It's a comfortable place to be."
And sometimes a loud place. The Baker man cave has been the site of raucous Super Bowl and Cinco de Mayo blowouts, during which patrons (including women) are urged to dance, drink and sign a wall of multicolored graffiti. Notes Dave, "It's not uncommon for the man cave to be open for business until 3 a.m. on weekends."
Asked why it was so important for her husband to have such a lair, Marcy just smiles and shakes her head.
"I'm not sure. Maybe to show off to his friends, or to show them up," she says. "All I know is that we have a lot of guys who have been in there who are now starting to clean out their own garages."
Ah, yes, the humble garage. Remember when it was a place mostly used to keep your tools, store holiday decorations and occasionally park the car? Try telling that to Lafayette resident Terry Engel, who has turned his four-car, 900-square-foot garage into an eye-popping old-style saloon and casino.
It all started about two years ago when Engel, who along with his wife, Nancy, is an antiques buff, thought it would be cool to create a "fun little room" to serve as his special getaway.
That led to the acquisition of an 1890s-era bar. Later came a 1942 Wurlitzer jukebox. Then some antique slot machines, poker tables, a 1953 phone booth, a 1920s popcorn machine and much more.
About the only modern amenities in his retreat are two elevated high-definition TVs, usually tuned to ESPN, of course.
"I really had no plan when we started, but it just kept growing and growing," Engel says. "I never imagined it would get to this point."
Now, he presides over one of the glitziest garages you'll ever see. It's so tricked-out "" and so dazzling and inviting "" that Engel often goes through long evening stretches during which he rarely enters the actual house.
"Once in a while I might stroll into the kitchen to toss a dirty dish into the dishwasher," he says. "And sometimes that's about it."
Spoken like a man-cave dweller about to go into hibernation.