The (modest) man cave is complete

Yale Hollander is a dad, husband, legal professional and writer whose works have appeared in a number of local and national publications. He is currently a trustee of the St. Louis Jewish Light, however the opinions and viewpoints he presents in this blog are strictly his. Follow him on Twitter @yalehollander.

Yale Hollander

I’m pleased to report that this dispatch is being sent from my newly-minted workspace in the recesses of my basement. And when I say “newly-minted,” I’m being fairly serious since my “desk,” now freed from eight or nine years of encrusted finger paint and cellophane tape, is a mint green Formica-top table that was once the centerpiece of my in-laws’ kitchen 40-something years ago.

As you may recall from last week’s missive, I have used a long-overdue liberation of my basement from its accumulation of junk as an opportunity to claim some territory of my own. The colonization has begun, and through a combination of shrewd bargain hunting and loving restoration, I have crafted a rustic haven for myself that may not rival the extreme “man caves” one finds on those home design channels my wife and daughters watch, but suits my needs just fine.

The table, in all its mid-century glory, provides more than enough room for my computer and other assorted gadgets with plenty of space left over for those reading and writing materials that work off of the antiquated operating system known as “paper.” To its left stands a bookshelf which I purchased for the tidy sum of $17 (some assembly required) and which now holds the portion of my Esquire magazine collection published during the years when Lee Eisenberg and charges were tutoring me to become a “man at his best.” I’m still working at it and it’s comforting to have my favorite reference material within arm’s reach.

The only other purchase I made for this haven is a desk chair and it’s a real find. I spied it in the far corner of the furniture department in my local, neighborhood, big-box office supply mega-store. It was tucked behind the postmodern, super-ergonomic, space-age titanium and mesh suspension monstrosities bearing price tags better suited to a gently-used Lexus. Upholstered in a rich, caramel shade of leatherette that would make Ricardo Montalban shudder, and featuring masculine, black, brushed metal and plastic hardware, not to mention a very modest price tag of $56 (some assembly required,) there was no question that this chair had to make its home in my underground work space, and now it does.

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Please don’t be misled. While my small corner of the universe is a place for work and study, I have also made provisions for entertainment. Amid the scattered clutter was a virtual Jurassic Park of prehistoric television sets. And the T-Rex of this assortment was a hulking Panasonic model featuring 23 diagonal inches of televised action from rounded corner to rounded corner. Cleared of cobwebs and Windexed to a gleaming plastic gloss, the set is now perched atop a reclaimed stand whose laminate-veneered particle board surface has also been Windexed back to early 80s lustre.

Contrary to the custom of typical contemporary gentlemen’s hideaways, this television is not tethered to a cable box or satellite system. My set is crowned by a soaring set of rabbit ears which, thanks to the ascent of our new, digital-signal-only overlords, is hooked into the descrambler that I ordered several years ago for my grandmother when she was in one of her moods to fire the cable company. The descrambler turned out to be more frustrating for her to use than the cable box, so I brought it home, nonchalantly tossing it into some box on a shelf, fully unaware that one day it would finally get its day in the sun, or at least the dank confines of my makeshift retreat.

And who needs fifty-two channels televising celebrity poker tournaments when I can tune into my local stations and their digital sub-channels, a few of which are dedicated to broadcasting nothing but television series from the ’60s and ’70s – programming that my trusty old set is happiest to screen in the first place? Let the kids pollute their minds with TeenNick and worse on the big screen upstairs. I’ll gladly take in a few episodes of “All in the Family” or “The Bob Newhart Show” down here on the tube.

Of course, the old set picks up Channel 9 just fine, which means that I’ll be down here every Thursday evening from 7 to 8 p.m., tweeting pithy one-liners at the hosts of my favorite local public affairs show, and it is for that very reason that I have settled upon the perfect name for my new confines – The DonnyBunker.