Friday, February 17, 2012

How Cleaning House Led Me to Rediscover My Manhood

Everyone has a place in their home where all the crap goes.  In our home that place is our office.  It is technically a third bedroom that we have filled with desks, computers and bookcases.  Thanks to the fact that we have two boys and bunk beds, we can retreat there from the noise of the average day and try to be productive doing things like paying bills, writing a blog and spending way too much time on Facebook.  At least we can do so when the crap hasn't piled up.

To clarify, this is metaphorical crap I am talking about.  Certainly, we have a room (two of them in fact) where the literal crap goes.  Some crap technically ends up in the yard, but that is 99% of the time at the hands of our dog ("hands" here is also used metaphorically in that dogs have paws and hopefully neither hands nor paws are ever involved in said crap's placement...ew).

When people are due to come over and the house needs to look presentable, all the back issues of magazines and comic books, half full storage containers that I want to fill before taking out to the garage and unopened items that I don't ever remember acquiring but stare at me screaming to be included in next year's Christmas grab bag, get thrown into the office.  I fully intend to put them in appropriate places the next day, but the next day inevitably becomes next month and before you know it, more and more items need to be piled on top of the existing ones.  Soon enough, the room becomes an unusable workspace.

My tolerance for this is naturally higher than my wife's.  Being nearly a foot taller than her, I have longer legs and a better ability to step over the towers of debris.  Still, even I had become weary with the effort it took to access our home desktop.  Thus, with some time off work, I determined it was time to straighten up the office.

I began with a lubricant, Pabst Blue Ribbon to be exact.  Consuming the beer helped make the tedium of sorting through old paperwork more tolerable.  The drawback was that I found myself interrupting the work more and more often to drain the same said lubricant from my system.  I also started to realize how much space all that beer took up in my refrigerator.  Here I was, trying to make my life more efficient and organized and I was drinking in a manner completely counter to that.  Something needed to be done.

One day, my wife and I happened to stop into a liquor store and a sudden, revolutionary thought came to me.  Images of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, glass tumblers of brown liquid in hand flashed through my mind.  You never saw them with aluminum cans in their hands, burping into the microphone due to the bubbles building up in their bloated stomachs.  They carried themselves with smooth, manly, drunken grace.

They were men, I thought.  Men drink hard liquor, I thought further.  I'm a man, I realized.  And within a few minutes, there I was purchasing a large bottle of whiskey.

Over the following week, I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Each time I filled a glass, I appreciated how little space the single bottle filled.  I even sat down with a scratch pad and worked out how many equivalent cans of beer the bottle represented (15.54 for those scoring at home).

I felt victorious.  I felt efficient.  I felt like a man.  Suddenly the office didn't feel so much like an office.  It felt like a study.

But I found it difficult to call it a  study with meaning as I saw the rows of frilly ribbon and shelves of craft paper on my wife's half of the room.  I dared not disturb her side (I'm not stupid), but I reckoned (that's what men do, by the way, we don't think, we reckon) that I could do more to add some masculinity to my own side.  I looked for an answer for how to do so and as I continued to sort through the junk that had piled up, I happened to find it.

In the room's closet, buried beneath keepsakes and stored boxes, I discovered my old humidor.  I gently removed it from its resting place, caressed its smooth top and lifted its lid.  The scent from inside took me back to a time when I was infinitely cooler (if, definitely only in my mind) and I felt reconnected to an old friend.  Since I had not had the time to enjoy a cigar any more than twice a year, usually for New Years and my birthday and usually not at home, the old cherry wood box had sat collecting dust and drying out over the past several years.  But no longer.

I now sit, humidor reconditioned, ready to lovingly embrace any cigars I might purchase, new bottle of whiskey in my refrigerator, typing in my office (the term study is being withheld until I can decide whether I want to remove the collection of action figures and Lego Star Wars sets from the shelf beside the humidor).

What can I say, a man feels like more of a man when he has vices around him that hasten his death.  Maybe I can arrange to move my charcoal grill in here and keep a steady supply of grilled red meat handy.  But that's probably pushing it.  (Note to self: look into acquiring a glass jar in which to store jerky.)

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