September 9, 2010
A brief, anthropological history, of the ‘man cave’
I have an anthropological hypothesis for the evolution of the Man Cave. You know that special room/garage/shed/doghouse where married men go to escape the general confusion of domestic life? We men all have them. Even the American Indians had a special teepee all their own. They called it the “Sweat Lodge” just to keep the women from ever entering it.
My theory is that this singular facet of the male homo sapian subspecies developed almost at the dawn of human consciousness. The scenario would have gone something like this:
One day there was a young knuckle-dragging caveman who’s forehead sloped slightly less than the rest. He hit upon what he thought was a unique strategy to have all the women of the tribe to himself for… well, we’ll just say to pass his genes on.
While all the men of the clan were getting ready to go out for several weeks on a long mammoth hunt, he told them he would graciously stay in camp and “protect” all the women. It was a great sacrifice, he said, to forego the thrill of running down a hairy beast 10,000 times bigger than himself with a pointed stick, but he felt it would be negligent to leave all these pungent-smelling matty-haired women alone to fend for themselves in the wild world of this current day and age.
The few older wise men of the tribe (those approaching 40 years of age or so) gave this young man knowing looks of pity and resignation. Yes, they knew this may be their last hunt — that their arthritic 40-year-old bones were likely to become a mound of goo beneath the earth-encrusted toenails of a woolly mammoth — but they preferred this ignominious and unremembered death to the alternative they knew this young caveling was about to endure.
Since all the men in general, like today, couldn’t articulate their objections very well, they reluctantly left this annoying high-foreheaded know-it-all with his multi-syllable grunting to “protect” their women.
As soon as the last hunter disappeared over the horizon, our sly Neanderthal started to make his moves. He approaches Brooga the, well… relatively prettiest woman in the camp. In response to his best seductive, “Hey, baby,” out of the clear blue sky he is immediately lit into him and the following dialog ensues:
“You no care me clean hovel! You no care me pick all berries! You no come when me take kids to listen to shaman every week!”
“Me care, me just lazy!”
“You no open tent flap for me when we go date!”
“We have tent?”
“You no travel far when you pee! And you leave rock up!”
“Me already say, me lazy.”
And so on, repeating all 36 words of the caveman vocabulary ad nauseam.
At great length, our slump-shouldered savage manages to slip away when Brooga goes to retrieve the loin cloth he “just left” in front of the sitting stone and makes his way to Maaga, the excruciatingly tanned woman in the hovel by the water hole. Let us proceed with the dialogue:
“Hi honey,” Maaga says. “You get water for me?”
“And while you out, you chop-chop weeds by hovel. And pick bugs out of little Ogg’s hair. And you fix leak in hovel roof. And when you done, you need work on bringing home more skins and shells, me no like being poorest savage on trail. Oh, and when you done with that, we need talk about you meat eating. You need eat more roots and berries. Me no giving all life savings of shells to medicine-man when you grasp arm and fall in pain because of greasy thump-thump.”
Slipping away while going to the water hole, our now wary brute tries again with Coompa, a dish-water blonde (that being the most generous description of all primitive blondes, especially considering their lack of dishes) who is sitting on a stone at the west end of camp.
“Hey babe,” our to-be-pitied post-primate says. “Um… why you cry?”
“Because big fireball in sky going down so beautiful! Hold me!”
For the sake of propriety and the honor we should show all men, even primitives, we will end our account of prehistoric inter-gender relations here. Needless to say, we next find our noble savage holed up in a cave longingly drawing on the walls. He creates stunning but haunting depictions of all his buddies and the fun they are having hunting beasts far less scary than the ones just outside his comfortable hole.
And thus the Man Cave was born. And so, men, the next time you are holed up behind a tightly locked door vicariously basking in the glory of your fellow men in the form of televised football while indiscriminately chewing Slim Jims and guzzling non-diet soda, honor this unnamed worthy forebearer who invented the idea.
John Hamilton, creative director for Transcript-Bulletin Publishing is venturing into the world of punditry and riches beyond imagining.