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January 06, 2007

What A Hoot

First it was the mancation, which the half vast editorial staff was all over some months ago. Then came the scourge of mandals. Now, the uber-in thing for the retrosexual in your life?

Kumpscars.jpgManspace. Savor the luxury, the sheer power of the word. It should be spoken deliberately, the syllables first rolled around the mouth like the smoke from a fine cigar before being released smoothly into the air to linger richly, introducing an air of discrete decadence to the room:

Graceland. The Bat Cave. Archie Bunker's chair. The Playboy mansion.

The simple but undeniable truth about these four spaces is that they are — deeply and unequivocally — male. They're special spots where well-known guys have gone to, uh, exercise a certain slice of their identity.

A new book, Manspace: A Primal Guide to Marking Your Territory, embraces this premise and runs with it. Houston-born author Sam Martin takes a thoughtful yet spirited look at spaces ordinary guys have created, or reclaimed, in their own homes. The recording studios, drinking sheds, attics, lean-tos and home offices in these pages, Martin says, help express the natures of the men who inhabit them.

"Guys have always gravitated toward the garages and basements of the world," says Martin, who recently built his own manspace, a 165-square-foot shed/office in the backyard of his Austin home. "But guys have gotten tired of those spaces. Guys are coming out of the corners."

Whoa, now. In a country where men still earn more and a woman has yet to warm the big chair at the Oval Office, isn't every space a manspace?

No, says Martin, whose introduction is quite clear on that point:

"At one time men really were kings of their castles — literally. Of course, that was more for security reasons than the need to invite friends over for the World Series. Still, those men didn't have anyone telling them to drain the moat or suggesting that they move their thrones to a less visible section of the house. Somewhere along the way, control changed hands."

Martin found during his research and travels that guys with great manspaces all have an activity around which the space takes shape. His chapters are divided into sections on collecting, entertaining, playing, sporting and working.

The manspaces he features are startlingly diverse, from a finished attic filled with 18th- and 19th-century nautical antiques, to a backyard Celtic labyrinth, to an Adirondack-style lean-to in the Colorado Rockies.

"Manspace is a place for a guy to establish his identity," Martin says. "When we lost the battle for the house, it coincided with a sort of wandering in the woods, searching for an identity. Claiming a space of your own is really a way to express yourself."

What an incredible hoot. The spousal unit, despite the fact that we always dutifully set aside a room for him in whatever often-cramped temporary home we've lived in over the past twenty-five years of military life, is always bi.... err... complaining that he doesn't have his own space. There is just one problem with this: the man is never home. If we bust our pretty little buns, therefore, trying to fix it up for him, we are "taking over", even if we stay out of it after trying to at least make it habitable.

If on the other hand, we do nothing (our preferred course after several failed attempts to "help") then he never goes in there because it is unpleasant and it ends up being a repository for junk. We, of course, have found it wise to have no opinion on the subject.

The editorial staff have added an item to our list of "must-haves" in our ongoing search for a dream house: a manspace.

Right after we send him on a mancation with a brand new pair of mandals.

Posted by Cassandra at January 6, 2007 12:13 PM

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Comments

Ohfercrissakes, butch up men, the whole house is yours.

Posted by: Pile On® at January 6, 2007 03:28 PM

When we had a foundation poured under our dining room (which had been a porch in it's previous life) we created a nice little storage space. I claimed about a 3' x 3' section of it for my man cave.

I like premium cigars. I don't smoke them in the house because you can never get the smell out of drapes and carpets, so I retire to the man cave.

Even in the dead of winter, I have a propane heater, a set of portable speakers for my MP3 player, and a window with a fan that blows the smoke outside.

It's my place to be alone, hang out, smoke cigars, listen to my music, read a good book, etc.

I like my man-cave.

(BTW, my wife christened it The Man Cave™, I didn't :))

Posted by: Tony at January 6, 2007 05:28 PM

And we just got them trained to lower the seats.

Posted by: Cricket at January 6, 2007 06:15 PM

"Ohfercrissakes, butch up men, the whole house is yours."

After being there to help my wife birth our first child, =8-O I decided that I was not man enough to be a woman and so without hesitation I decided that house was hers and my daughters. I took the basement, the garage, the outdoors, and the barn.

It all sorta fits in with our different styles, needs, and outlook on life.

Or as Boomhower might say, hey man, da danged ole enviornment changed and 'fore ya know it, she's tellin' me all 'bout her needs so I found a nice quite dark place in da danged old barn...

Posted by: bthuun at January 6, 2007 08:17 PM

FWIW, my husband has claimed the whole house. There is nowhere that I can turn but that there is memorabilia of his career: Poncho liners,
Army blankets, bits of BDUs adorning the persyns of the CLUs for play togs. Footgear designed for use in the European Third World War-that-never-came, desert boots and unmentionables.

Entrenching tools, as well as other things (all legitimately acquired through purchase or issue)
remind me of his 22 years of being at the beck and call of other men for their 'mancations.'

It doesn't get any more exotic than a tour of duty. If I wanna channel the Rat Pack, I just rent the movies or play their CDs and mock Shirley McClain.

Posted by: Cricket at January 6, 2007 09:51 PM

My hubby calls his space in the backyard: "ManCamp" and funnily enough that ramshackle little rusty shed and hammock covered with a blue tarp survived direct hits from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005. He's all into NASCAR and watches the races out there while he pretends to read the "honey-do" list.

Posted by: Ellen at January 7, 2007 12:34 AM

I've got my own cave, under my property on the Big Island...it ties into the second most extensive lava tube system currently known.

Manly enough for ya? :-D

Read all about it HERE...

Posted by: camojack at January 7, 2007 05:12 AM

For those of us with evil tendencies, they are known as "lairs". Sadly, the best dormant volcano cones, rocky, deserted islands, and underwater grottos seem to have been taken. The evil lair real estate market has just been through the roof lately!

Posted by: a former european at January 7, 2007 06:17 AM

I am terrified of caves. I will go in them willingly enough, but I think Tom Sawyer put me off them...and then being in Timponogos Cave was more than I could stand, being from California where the big earthquakes breed.

I have been in the Pinnacles and Mammoth Cave in KY. Lava tubes? Is that like a blast area for volcanoes?

I like being above ground, on terra firma. Even sailing has me wimped out, and fergit about flying.

*makes chicken noises*

Posted by: Cricket at January 7, 2007 10:50 AM

I have my own special place, a small room with a white ceramic chair. Sometimes a bit cold in the winter months, it is a refreshing place to be in summer, with the chair filled with cool water, and my own exhaust fan.
I don't really need to spend much time there, but the time actually spent there is the "hour of sweet release".
Just wanted to share that with everybody.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at January 7, 2007 11:41 AM

"I've got my own cave, under my property on the Big Island"

Beats my barn... I fold.

Posted by: bthun at January 7, 2007 12:47 PM

Mine is called "The Swamp". Downstairs is a 6700 square foot 3 bay garage with 16' tall doors, hydraulic lifts and pneumatic supply. Upstairs we have 3300 square feet that consists of my office and warehouse space, Pool table, dart board, TV,Keg fridge, refrigerators, deep freezers for game, microwave, toaster oven, the round table and a full bathroom. All this sitting on 16 acres of prime Salado Creek frontage in northeast San Antonio. Two huge smokers/BBQ's. Family and Friends visit often.

Posted by: unkawill at January 7, 2007 05:08 PM

Actually it's an octagon table, perfect for poker

Posted by: unkawill at January 7, 2007 07:30 PM

Both husband and I have our own "Caves"....ahem...Spaces. Without them we would have killed each other by now (going on 35 years together) My space is grandchild pic-filled, with fabrics, gardening books and beautiful paintings...and very tidy.
His is filled with rock posters, Warner Bros cartoons, books floor to ceiling, piles of "projects" and all his media...lots of it! And not as tidy....! :)
When we bought our current home, these rooms were what we saw as a must-have! We love our spaces and our privacy. Such is the way long realtionships are built. Respect for each other and each other's space(s)!
Long live the Cave!!!

Posted by: milabro at January 8, 2007 09:30 PM

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