Recently we did a bit of rearranging in our basement to create an area where I can hang out and enjoy my favorite hobbies. My wife likes to call it my man cave. I, however, prefer the term “lair,” which to me sounds much more sophisticated, romantic and dangerous.
Also, calling it a man cave might be misleading. For example, should a friend call and ask me what I’m doing and I reply, “Just hanging out in the man cave,” that friend might picture me sitting in a broken recliner watching NASCAR, knocking back multiple cans of PBR and trimming my toenails with a chain saw.
While I love NASCAR, I have no television — or chain saw — in my lair. And sadly, were I to knock back multiple cans (two) of PBR these days, my lair would quickly become a sleeping chamber.
However, if I tell my inquiring friend that I am “just chillin’ in my lair,” that friend might picture me reclining on a divan watching Formula One, while sipping champagne and applying tanning lotion to my feet.
The reality falls somewhere between the two extremes. When I tell my friend I am “just chillin’ in my lair,” I am likely sipping coffee or tea, reading a book, listening to music or playing the guitar — or all of the above.
While half of what is now my lair has always been my music room, the other half was previously a play area for our grandchildren. We kept all the toys down there, plus a television and VCR so they could watch movies if they wanted to.
But as the kids got older, the toy area saw less use. Meanwhile, we were running out of room upstairs for books and CDs. About a year ago, we moved most of our books down there, then stopped.
But a visit to some friends’ house several weeks ago kicked me into action. These friends have what I believe to be the perfect basement — the ideal combination of library, music store and pop culture museum. It’s a lair!
When I returned home, I was already thinking about how I could steal some of their ideas and expand my feeble music area into a full-blown lair of my own.
The toys were moved to the guest bedroom, while the CDs were moved downstairs. I relocated the stereo, hung some chili pepper lights around the edge of the ceiling and found an old bead curtain to hang in the doorway.
I even bought a lava lamp. I’ve wanted one ever since my grandparents bought one when I was a boy, but I’ve never owned one until now. It’s pretty cool, but I discovered that it has to be on for about 90 minutes before the lava really starts flowing.
Since my average stay in my lair is only about 45 minutes (I don’t want to miss the NASCAR race), the lava lamp isn’t getting much use.
A friend and I even installed a new light fixture in the ceiling without electrocuting ourselves. Sure, it’s not trimming-toenails-with-a-chain-saw manly, but we did blurt out a swear word or two.
Granted, my reworked basement is nowhere near as cool as my friends’ lair and never will be. Still, it’s pretty happening, in a retro sort of way. With the chili pepper lights glowing red, the lava lamp flowing and Jefferson Airplane flying out of the stereo speakers, my new space does a pretty good imitation of 1967.
But the transformation from lame man cave to certified lair is not yet complete. I remain on the lookout for a string of love beads and just the right Nehru jacket.
Doug Showalter can be reached at 379-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.