Monday, October 13, 2008

Quick Robin!

Turning now to less weighty topics, recently, The Common Man's usage of the term "man cave" was called into question by The Founding Father, who writes over at The Mantuary. The term, he claims, was invented by someone over at HGTV, which presumably means that women came up with it. Sure, The Common Man will grant that he is not the first to use the term, and that it's entirely possible that its some kind of womanly creation.

The Common Man certainly won't take issue with The Founding Father's terminology. He can and should keep using it. After all, he is an expert on manly spaces and has a nice site that The Common Man plans to keep an eye on. He urges you to check the site out as well.

But The Common Man is unsure whether the word conveys the right atmosphere for his manly seat of power. First, Mantuary is difficult to say, without the c between the n and the t there. The word seems a little weak. "Man cave," however, is direct, to the point, descriptive, and functional. Like men should be. And the word Mantuary implies that men somehow need sanctuary from the femininity the wife brings. The Common Man sees no need for that. The Uncommon Wife is welcome in the man cave any time, so long as she and The Common Man are clear that it's where the football and baseball and violent movies happen (last night, John Carpenter's The Thing. Manly men freezing to death and not trusting one another.... Excellent!) when such things are necessary. And her touches (and those of The Boy) are welcome there too. The goal of the family is to mesh their lives together into one; so long as The Common Man's autographed baseballs, 1965 World Series Program, and 1991 newspaper plate from the day the Twins won the World Series are not disturbed and remain the focus of the room, The Common Man has no call to complain. He does, after all, want his wife and son to feel comfortable in his domain. Finally, The Common Man would point out that the aforementioned man cave is located deep underground, with little natural light. It has both the look and the feel of a cave.

The Common Man doesn't really care who came up with the idea. Women, after all, are well known for their good ideas (or so The Uncommon Wife keeps telling The Common Man). And if imitation is the second best form of flattery (outright plagiarism being the first), he doesn't really see a need to stop using it (particularly since The Uncommon Wife would like him to flatter her more often...this counts, right?).

Since the term "man cave" is a good one, The Common Man is planning to keep using it on this site. However, perhaps he should leave it up to his loyal readers. By what term should we call the formerly-named Man Cave for future reference? Please vote in the poll on the right.


BillP said...

"Man Cave" is too homey. It suggests that man has in his essence the forethought, the detachment from nature, and the all-around wussiness to need a room with a roof. Might as well hang tapestries and buy a tea set. What, the Man Pit is too good for you?

Actually, "Man Pit" sounds a bit too presumptuous. I'll be awaiting your response in my Manhole.

The Founding Father said...

Like many men, my safe haven from cohabitating with the opposite sex was created shortly after I got married. I won't suggest the thought of having my own space was anything new to the evolution of man, but the term I gave it, The Mantuary, certainly was...if only for a short time. You see, long before these spaces were given buzzwords, before Twitchel came out with Where Men Hide or Sam Martin came out with Man Space (both great books by the way) there was a time when Tony "The Goose" Siragusa actually played football for the Ravens... a time before "The Goose" became the poster child for the Man Cave. It was during this time that I hung The Mantuary sign above my 3rd bay garage and proudly marked the territory that I would call my own.

I mention all this as a matter of record. Lately some have questioned the authenticity of The Mantuary suggesting it is nothing more than a clumsy spin-off of other manly domains like a Man Cave, A Testosteroom, a Garge-Mahal, or whatever! Bottom line is, while my Mantuary wasn't the first space dedicated to men, it certainly took root before Manly themed TV shows and books flooded the market.

So where does all this fit into the hierarchy of what to call your space? While my grandfather would argue we're all f'n nuts for needing anything other than the local fishing hole, I'll state my case for The Mantuary and let you decide.

Man Cave is the term made famous by the DIY network. I can't help but picture a bunch of suits sitting around a big oak desk tossing ideas around trying to come up with the perfect tag line that would appeal to the common man.
Suit 1: we need something that appeals to the average man.
Suit 2: agreed... something that takes us all back to our cave man roots.
Suit 1: that's it... Man Cave!
Suit 2: Bonnie is going to love this idea... let's go to Chili's to celebrate.

4 weeks later...
Bonnie: Tony, how would you like to spend 4 days in a custom RV that we build for you. We'll feed you steak dinners, BBQ ribs and all the Wendy's takeout you want. Every once in awhile, you can poke your head out, check up on the Man Cave your partner will be building, bust some balls and go back to sleep.
The Goose: uh, will the RV have a shitter?
Bonnie: you betcha!
The Goose: where do I sign up?

God bless "The Goose" cause he's living every man's dream, but there's still something inherently artificial about the term "Man Cave" in my opinion. Its too cutesy... its too politically correct. Dont get me wrong, i wouldn't turn down The Goose if he was looking to put $20,000 into my Mantuary, but i'd be selling out to a bunch of designer network suits in the process...and therein lies the problem! It wouldnt be The Mantaury, it would be The Man Cave as designed by a television studio...and let's face it, it's almost impossible to use the term "Man Cave" in a sentence without having it bastardized by gay innuendos - "Hey Steve, wanna hang out in my Man Cave?" "Sorry I cant, I've got to clean out my own Man Cave". Just look no further than this news story:

Admittedly biased, The Mantuary (pronounced Man-Chew-Airy) has manlier roots. No shit, I can remember the night I was hanging out with my buddies in the garage. It was the middle of winter, snow was falling and the garage door was wide open. We weren't feeling a thing because of the hurt we had just put on the barrel of Yeungling that was on tap. It was well after 3 in the morning, Led Zeppelin blaring, when my buddy turned to me and said, "this is great!" "Yeah," I replied, "this is The Mantuary".

Unlike most of the ideas I get when I drink too much, this one took root into a concept I simply could not let go. I searched the internet high and low, and at that time there was never a single mention of the word Mantuary or Man Cave to be found. Anyone who heard me refer to my space as a Mantuary loved the idea... my wife was just as turned off...and so The Mantuary was formed. Two weeks later I had the first Mantuary sign hanging above my door and the rest is history.

In the end, what you call your space isn't nearly as important as having a space and standing up for what it represents - a place where a Man is judged by the amount of holes in his pants, where the lights don’t have to be turned on when you’re working, and beer flows freely from a tap.

Be A Man.

- The Founding Father

The Common Man said...

@ Bill

The Man Pit implies that The Common Man was too stupid to avoid falling into the pit. And men are smart enough to know they need shelter from the elements, aren't they? After all, who do you think was the first to kick the sabre-tooth tiger out of the cave? And The Common Man doesn't go down manholes. He doens't mind getting sweaty and dirty and smelly. But stanky is something else entirely.

@ founding father

Your mantuary sounds lovely. And God help the man who takes advice from Tony Siragusa. If there's such a thing as a keg of veal, Tony's got one and is sucking on the hose.

In the end, it sounds as though you and The Common Man are in agreement. If not in the name, then in the execution. Manly spaces are not just nice to have, but essential to remind men of who they are and why they like being that way.