From closet to man cave to castle

March 9, 2012 • Culture Dept., Sonoma Co.

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There’s a closet at the far end of my hallway that I’ve converted into a vocal recording booth. Or at least, I thought I was building a recording booth. Though the space is useful for producing audiobooks and chat show podcasts, I’ve finally admitted to myself that it’s actually a “man cave.”

The notion of constructing such a space was initially repugnant to me, despite the pop-psychology plaudits such spaces garner from trendy blogs and home-themed cable shows. I mean, of all the First World extravagances to indulge – building a private space, inside the private space that is my home because, as an American male, I just can’t get enough private space. Past generations of men would just disappear to their garages or lock themselves in the bathroom with Sports Illustrated for hours. My generation? Apparently we fabricate miniature shrines to our adolescent passions, then lock ourselves in them, amongst the action figures and neon beer signs. Not I. At least, not consciously. My retreat into this hole-for-the-soul was through a systematic series of self-deceptions.

After having thousands of dollars of other companies’ money spent on me and my cronies at recording studios hither and yon, I decided to sidestep the waste (or, frankly, pocket it) and build my own DIY recording booth. My conscious mind rationalized that the kind of yahoos who would possibly discern a difference in recording quality are not the kind of yahoos who buy my work. Now I realize, I must have secretly desired to hide away within a sequence of ever-shrinking rooms like the final wooden womb of a Russian nesting doll.

My brother-in-law Barney has a man-cave that is accessed through a secret passage in his bedroom closet that is so well-appointed, it could be featured in Architectural Digest – that is, if you could fit a photographer somewhere between the antiquarian editions of Dickens, whale-tooth scrimshaw and a Lego model of the Death Star the size of a beach ball.

My cave still purports to a purpose other than hiding, hence the queen-sized bed’s worth of “egg crate” foam I’ve affixed on the walls and ceiling as soundproofing. It’s really just camouflage that also happens to shut out the sounds of the outside world.

My 2.5 year-old became convinced the foam’s squishy spires are “dinosaur teeth,” which is why my would-be recording studio is also his personal Museum of Natural History. He opens the door a crack and hovers in the jam to stare in quiet awe at Nerf stalactites he watched Daddy staple to the ceiling. (And we wonder whence the world’s weirdos come?) Fortunately, the kid’s interest in dino-dentition usually wanes after a minute. Then he closes the door on me, which, at first, seems polite except for the fact that there is no interior doorknob. Also, the switch for the closet’s sole light is located outside in the hall. The kid, of course, is kind enough to stand on his tippy-toes to turn this off – effectively entrapping me in a small, dark prison.

I dare say, he knows what he’s doing, taking cues from some Oedipal blueprint unfurling from deep within his wee subconscious. When Mommy inquires after my whereabouts, he feigns ignorance and invites her to the park.

Perhaps he’s not as cunning as I suspect. He might actually be sympathetic to my occasional need for solitude. After all, it was this same little man who recently dragged a large cardboard box into his room, lined it with pillows and crawled inside for a few hours. The box, he declared in a firm voice, was only to be entered by he alone, for it was his “castle.”

Clearly, I need to upgrade.

• • •

Daedalus Howell is in a box – inside outside upside down – at DaedalusHowell.com.

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