Friday, November 18, 2016

How the Man Cave was invaded and desecrated

Rules of the Man Cave
  1.  Only wash your bedding once every six months.
  2.  Talk to animals and yourself more than fellow humans.
  3.  Don’t buy new towels for the bathroom and kitchen. Wear them down to shreds.
  4.  Don’t invite a group over for a party or game night. Suggest they hold it at their   place.
  5.  Ignore repairs and maintenance needing to be done.
  6.  Don’t bother decorating the place; that’s way too feminine.
  7.  Never, never answer the doorbell ring, unless someone’s scheduled to enter   the Man Cave.
  8.  Honor the Temple of Isolation. Guard it with your life.

On August 1, 2015, my girlfriend Susan moved in along with her college student son Tim; with occasional stays by another college student son, Jonathan. And her two cats, brothers Nico and Sparty.

There are two ways for me to look at it:
  • My house is a much better place to live – warmer, fun, cleaner, decorated, repaired, and worth working extra hours to pay for.
  • My house was taken over by unicorns and pillows with tied bows, framed mirrors, antique decorations, new roommates, and three cats 
Let’s say it’s mostly #1 with a little bit of #2. There is one banner with unicorns on it, made to look like royal tapestry from England in the Middle Ages. The good news is there’s only one hanging up, and there had been two. Susan is open to negotiations.

Overall, I have to admit I’ve adapted to the new environment. I like it much better than during the darkest Man Cave days. But let’s be clear about something – the unspoken rules of the Man Cave were violated.

Before the move in, I’d had a series of renters staying in the front bedroom and bath, with all of them bringing in pets. One of them had asked me to adopt her cat Bonsai, who had taken to me before I took to her. I said yes, and Bonsai became the watch cat. I never saw much of the renter in the front of the house or his cat. It was officially a Man Cave. (I used to think that saying was stupid, until a little over a year ago when my house was invaded and desecrated. Then, the origin of the term made sense to me.)

As for the big story behind Susan and her sons moving in, she and I had been in a relationship for about two years and her lease was coming up in the summer of 2015. It made a lot of sense for her to move in, and one of her sons was in a good place to have a room and go to college not too many miles away. Her other son got to have a room when he visited, and sometimes invited friends over to play video games in the den and eat junk food. The cat brothers got their own space, eventually with a swing door placed in the bottom of the kitchen door for them to have full access to indoors and outdoors. It’s a win-win for all.

A big challenge was getting them moved in, with her stuff and my stuff needing more storage space than was available. We did a number of runs over to Goodwill and left several items in front of the house with “Free” signs taped on. That did get rid of most of it.

Now, if you replace a toilet with a new one, be careful about leaving the old one out in your driveway with a “Free” sign on it. Especially if there’s a middle school down the street from your house. Don’t be surprised to see that the toilet has been dragged out into the street; or that kids are laughing hysterically in front of your house, and some of them are standing around the toilet for group photos.

Then there was the move-in day, with two minor collisions I caused in a rented 30-foot moving truck; of which I will never rent again. Much better to hire the Starving Students or some other low-cost service. The second crash happened as we tried to squeeze into a fast food parking lot to have a meal we’d needed for hours. That Ford pickup was parked just a little too far out; or maybe I’m not so good at parking a 30-foot truck. Insurance companies were informed, with my claims adjustor taking several minutes to understand what I was trying to say – that I was involved in two separate incidents that day. He was good about it. I think they’re trained by the insurer on how to take the report and be supportive, without lecturing you on dumb driving.

My cat Bonsai had a very rough time with the transition, and she still seems to be getting over it nearly a year and-a-half later. Bonsai was living here about three years before they moved in. She’s older than the two cat brothers by about seven years, and has hissed at them quite a few times.

Bonsai’s main issue was having the Man Cave violated. It had been her palace as Queen Bonsai, occasionally sitting in the bay window and looking out at the masses who should have adored her. But the cat brothers who had moved in, Nico and Sparty, didn’t buy that one for a minute. One of them, Nico, occasionally enjoys crossing the boundary to her space and getting hissed and yelped out. That’s led to chases a couple of times, and knocking things over. No injuries so far.

Bonsai has lived out something of an allegory for us all to learn from. She has been her own worst enemy. The cat brothers, and human brothers, are fine with Bonsai and usually just leave her alone. She’s made all of this as bad as she’s determined it to be – never getting over her sacred space being invaded. She reminds me it’s better to accept change and make the most of it.

It does stay interesting in what was once the Man Cave.

Kitchen cleanup has become a new challenge in my life. What happens when a young man, who shall remain anonymous, cooks a meal but leaves some of the leftovers on the counter and doesn’t wash his dishes? Do you ask him to finish it up, and come out later to see none of it has been done? Do you eat the leftovers without telling him, as retribution?

Have you ever napped in a Coma Cave? There’s something about our house where people, except for me, sleep in really late; and maybe take long naps later. We live in a nice and quiet neighborhood, and in a comfortable house with air conditioning and heating. I might have left early in the morning driving for Uber as they’re deep in sleep; or I might be writing an article in the den, with the others usually deep asleep (including cats). That’s how the name Coma Cave came to me. A while back, I came home about 9:00 in the morning from Uber driving to find two furious housemates. The neighbor had hired a crew to chop down and grind up tree branches. They started at 7:30 in the morning! Could you believe that outrage! Peace and quiet in the Coma Cave must be respected!

I have to admit that life has gotten better since the Man Cave was invaded and turned into a home shared with loved ones. It’s great coming home – seeing what Susan has been doing and having a few laughs. Sometime I walk in the front door and toward the den, only to see her bare feet up on a padded stool with one or two cats lying next to her with the TV playing. Tim cooking his meals and visiting the kitchen in the middle of the night for snacks. Jon coming in very late, which we don’t discover until well into the next day. The cats being cute, like the brothers sleeping next to each other; and Bonsai, and me, slowly adapting to change.

Farewell, Man Cave.

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