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Fortress of solitude

Ladies, in this column, I'm going to give you some keen insight into how your man's brain works. I've spent some considerable time this past week planning my ultimate mancave. For those of you out there who are not familiar with the term, a mancave is basically a room or space in a house where the man-type folks in the household can go to do manly things in a manly atmosphere. A place where a guy can act like a guy, unencumbered by the everyday conventions forced upon us by the females of the species. A place where you don't necessarily have to wear pants. I like to call it my "This Ain't Ever Gonna Happen" room.

As a matter of explanation, I should mention that I live in co-habitation with two women. One is currently 6 years old, and the other is older than 6 years old. It used to be more of an even battlefield when my son was at home, but since he's gone off to college, any vision of my own personal masculine paradise has been covered by an avalanche of Barbies, Polly Pockets and Build-A-Bears. My retinas are permanently damaged due to the amount of the color pink that exists in my house.

My neighbor has a mancave. In fact, it might be one of the coolest mancaves ever. It's not even connected to his house. He constructed this heated building a year or so ago to keep his vehicles safe from the elements. At least that was his original reason. Somewhere along the line, he decided to put in a kitchen, bathroom and workout room. And since he and most of his buddies like to hunt, he constructed the building to be the perfect place to clean and prepare the animals they had just hunted. He has all sorts of animal mounts hanging on the walls. He even has a moose head which, by the way, is probably the ultimate in mancave decoration. This place is basically man heaven. He recently held a good-old neighborhood block party where everyone got to try moose and elk meat. I swear the moose head was angrily watching me the whole time I was eating him.

Not every mancave has to have glassy-eyed animal heads hanging from the wall, but there is a short list of things that should be required before you apply for official mancave designation. First of all, at a minimum, there needs to be a reclining chair and/or beat-up old couch. More often than not, this will be the type of furniture the wife thinks belongs on the curb on garbage day. You can usually tell a guy's favorite recliner by the thick coating of Cheeto dust below the arms at hand-wiping level. When you can see actual cheek indentations in the seat cushion, you know you've found a guy's special spot.

The next essential piece of equipment would be a television with a working remote control. It doesn't have to be a 72" high-definition flat-screen with surround sound stereo speakers, but it would be nice. Any TV will do, but I cannot possibly stress this enough ... it must have a working remote control. If you have lost the remote or the batteries have gone dead, there is no possible way to consider yourself to live in a male nirvana as you schlep across the room to change channels. It just can't be done.

Those are the two absolute necessities that every mancave must have. After that, it's pretty much up to one's particular tastes as to how to furnish the room. The aforementioned dead animal heads are always a nice touch. Neon beer signs hanging on the wall reflect the owner's cultural respect for the arts. Those big Fathead stickers of NFL and NASCAR stars also brighten a room. Ping-pong, foosball, and pool tables serve a dual purpose of providing entertainment and storing crushed aluminum cans and empty Twinkie wrappers until your wife throws them away.

Mancaves should never be painted in any kind of color that can be described with the word pastel. The walls should actually be covered in wood, whether it be paneling or actual logs. The closer you can come to the look and feel of the interior of Grizzly Adams' cabin, the better. If you can't (or your wife won't let you) do the wood decor, cinder block is always a nice alternative, although it's kind of a pain when it comes to hanging up Billy Bass and the dart board.

In a perfect world, my mancave would be loosely-based, no, on second thought, it would be an exact replica of the bridge of the USS Starship Enterprise. I would sit tall and proud in my Captain Kirk chair as my helmsmen Sulu and Chekov would change channels and adjust volume levels on that huge flatscreen. Lt. Uhura could handle all of those sales calls I get from pesky telemarketers and the Klingon Federation while Spock brings me food and beverages. The only reason I would need to get up is to use the bathroom. But if Scotty is any kind of engineer, he ought to be able to make the commander's chair a multi-use seating device with its own plumbing. Then I could boldly go where no man has gone before.

Well, that's my dream mancave and until I can talk the women in my house into it, I think I'll just settle for a nice-sized refrigerator box out in the backyard. I can punch air holes in it and start decorating it with an ongoing beer can collection. Until I get the big-screen TV hooked up, I can always go out and thumb through my old baseball cards and reread my collection of Mad magazines and Richie Rich comic books.

At least pants will still be optional.

You can contact Wallace at gwallace@bcrnews.com. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.wordpress.com.

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