I think it’s safe to say the housing market is picking up again, because Americans have stopped worrying about whether or not they can have houses and gone back to worrying about all the stupid crap they can do that house. When we bought our house in 2006, we were coming off the colossal goddamned kitchen trend. Fully half the square footage of any given residence had to be dedicated to a kitchen replete with acres of granite counters and gleaming stainless steel appliances. The counters evidently served as a buffet where one could lay out the many varieties of Lean Cuisine and Stouffers Food-Like Products on offer. The stainless steel was mercifully non-reflective to ensure that one never had to glimpse the gigantic ass growing behind oneself. I’m still unsure what the fancy six burner Sub-Zero ranges were for, but they did have big beautiful knobs in front, and it’s well documented that about 50% of all people like to frequently fondle knob shaped objects placed at waist level.
Kitchens this big required the ubiquitous “islands;” places where you could refuel on your way across the vast hardwood ocean with some Flamin’ Hot Cheeti or perhaps a fistful of 365 Everyday Value Organic Flax & Honey Twigs,(if your Mercedes SUV has an Obama sticker on it). I imagine that since 2008, a lot of these kitchen islands have been removed as the kitchens have been converted to apartments to provide some rental income or turned into housing for unfortunate children returning to the roost after pursuing degrees in the humanities.
But now, the housing market is back. And apparently, “man caves” are The Big New Thing. I originally thought this was another bogus marketing phrase brought to you by the real estate industry in their ongoing efforts to obscure the fact that the majority of “agents” are people you pay to read a database to you. However, real non-database reading otherwise normal people have recently talked about their man caves.
What the hell has happened to married middle class hetero men?! After a long day of doing better than just about any other socio-economic group in the US, we have to come home and hide in our caves? Is the rest of the house just an unbearable color coordinated Pottery Barn hellscape put there by our demonic wives? I think I’ve hit on a root cause of homophobia — we’re just jealous that gay couples can have their whole house turned over to man stuff, and they WASTE IT with trinkets from last year’s Rhone cruise and a carefully curated poster collection celebrating the works of Julie Taymor. Are our lives so bleak and our houses so big that we really need a special room where we can spend the three hours a week we’re not working, shuttling the kids around, or sleeping next to a woman who barely hides her revulsion at our back hair? This has absolutely nothing to do with personal experience.
Calling the room a cave is a clever linguistic invention trying to convince pasty desk jockeys that we have something in common with our tougher, and apparently more masculine australopithecine forebears. That’s ridiculous. With a cranial volume of just over 350 cc, those poor hominid bastards could never appreciate sweet, sweet 7.1 channel surround sound, detailed and clear enough to help everyone forget that Michael Bay has never made a decent movie and all Danny Elfman music sounds the same. Also, real cavemen probably couldn’t stand the overwhelming intensity of a 70 inch 1080p display. “Ook feel like eyes being punished! No like! Make go! Make go! Why hateful sun in box?!”
Can Homo Dockersi return to his Flinstonian simply by having a place where, as a NY Times article recently put it, “pursue personal interests like video games or sports?”. Let’s pretend for the sake of decency that “personal interests” isn’t just the Times‘ polite way of saying ” staring agog at hours and hours of streaming porn.” A national trend of building masturbatoriums is too weird to think about. (Incidentally, I thought I made that word up, but it turns out I didn’t)
Yes, that did say personal interests like video games or sports. Interests so personal and so hard to share with friends and family that men have to retreat to a purpose-built room to enjoy them. If only there were some way to enjoy sports openly in America, like, say, EVERY bar in Chicago becoming a “sports” bar (is trying to control the onset of a seizure with all of the flickering screens a sport?). This isn’t sewing old Army blankets into perfect replicas of the kepis worn in Pickett’s Charge or building an HO gauge model of a BNSF hump yard. There’s almost no way to avoid sports in America — right now, every cable subscriber in America, whether or not they’ve ever heard of Sportscenter, is subsidizing ESPN with about $5 a month. Think about what you could do with that money, other than pooling it and sending Keith Olbermann somewhere very far away.
And video games? The video game industry now has bigger revenues than the film industry. So what has the film industry done? Make movies more like video games. Low on plot and character, and high on explosions and – it must be said – women with giant, preposterous boobs. Preferably tightly wrapped in black latex. As is probably clear, I am not a female action hero. But if I were capable of leaping through the air, breaking an enemy’s neck with my thighs, doing a handspring and landing with both of my automatic pistols drawn, I think the last thing I would want to wear is anything resembling Scarlet Johannsen’s get up in The Avengers. I can’t imagine how I could keep the legs of my Kirkland boxer briefs from riding up, for one thing. But it just seems impractical for fighting, unless I was trying to get my male opponent to stop fighting and go fiddle with waist level knobs.
In his man cave.