Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 26, 2013

Garret Leiva: Furnace room gets man-cave makeover

Local columnist

---- — Blame it on Neolithic genes, but many human males remain cave dwellers. Of course, Grog never had high-definition TV or neon beer signs in his rock-sided abode.

Out of the Stone Age and into the age of Netflix, man finds himself back in the cave — the man cave. Personally, I’m only a recliner chair away from joining the knuckle-dragger man cave club.

Ever since Mrs. Grog replaced Mr. Grog’s saber-toothed tiger pictographs with prehistoric Pottery Barn, man has sought a refuge from Better Homes-approved decor. In this sanctuary he could proudly display the tacky and tasteless.

Today’s man cave is not your father’s pre-cable TV, knotty-pine panel and shag-carpet rumpus room.

Instead, these not-so-humble manly retreats feature surround-sound testosterone: well-stocked bars, NASCAR collections, and television screens bigger than the U.S.-China trade deficit. Man caves are carved out of basements, garages, outbuildings and the occasional mother-in-law apartment.

Some guys construct their man cave around a vintage Harley-Davidson collection or a granite-top bar with craft beer on tap. I built my cave around the furnace.

Truth be told, no one forced me behind the forced air unit. As the lower level came to drywall and wainscot fruition, however, the deer head and car magazine motif seemed an unlikely family room choice.

My inner immature child retreated to play alongside the hot water tank.

As man caves go, mine is extremely simple — we’re talking “The Clash” on cassette player. I also lack any viewing source for NFL football games or even old-school Atari.

I do take solace in that my car obsession now has a private parking spot. There are literally stacks of lowbrow auto literature, cheesy posters and geeky scale models; it is the stuff of Martha Stewart’s night sweats.

Throw in my collection of old Marvel comic books and Topps baseball cards and I’m a Kung-Fu Grip G.I. Joe doll removed from Steve Carell in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”

Strangely, for a room devoted to my whims, I rarely hang out there — unless I’m changing the furnace filter or adding salt to the water softener.

The problem is I can’t bring myself to occupy a folding chair in my man cave sanctum. I desperately need a beat-up La-Z-Boy ... and an air hockey table for drinks.

While there is a door to the man cave, I don’t have a lock on its use.

My cave has been subjected to Christmas cookie storage, in-law suitcases and a doll house refuge from, ironically, little boys. I even caught Barbie parking her pink car in the man cave — at least it was a vintage Corvette.

At this rate, the man cave could be co-opted as a walk-in closet or pre-teen girl giggle hideout. Perhaps I’ll have to dig deeper into my inner-Grog — or the adjoining basement crawl space.

Reach Garret Leiva care of the Record-Eagle or via email at