Posted by: deadmousediaries | September 20, 2018

Long Before the Man Cave, Man Ruled the Shed

Forget pool tables, flat screen TVs and oversized recliners complete with holders for chip and dip. All men really need to be happy is a space of their own. They want a place where they can retreat with honor when they need not to think or when the estrogen in their homes has run amok. Men have been carving out this space since the first muddy footprint was left on a clean cave floor.

Although man cave is the trendy term, the shed predates it by generations and has contributed to the continued success of many marriages. To be clear, we’re not talking about the handsome little pre-fab boxes you load on the back of your truck from the retail store. A shed is an authentic, weathered structure complete with rusty hinges and creaky doors. It was never intended to be part of the main dwelling but instead it is the classic outbuilding, far enough from the house to provide a little privacy. Elaborate security devices to deter the opposite sex from random visits are usually not required. The occasional mention of black snake sighting might be all it takes.

Miscellaneous tools and spare parts hang on display in a shed, a collection suspended by baler twine or arranged to the owner’s tastes on nine-penny spikes. This system, and it’s distance from the house, assures the owner he will always find his tools in the same place he left them without the threat of being “put away” or “tidied up.” Projects in various states of repair offer the promise of future satisfaction of having gotten around to it.

The shed is also great place for entertaining. Overturned crates, metal stools or old chairs missing arms and spindles say Come on in! to neighboring men who are on their own pilgrimage to go anywhere as long as it’s out of the house. Engine parts soaking in oil or electric motors partially assembled make conversation starters as the great debate continues: repair or replace. No doubt presidents have been elected and battles won or lost based on strategies developed through inspired conversations in the shed. Meanwhile, the women of the neighborhood are happy, too, because the house is calm and quiet for a bit.

Another great quality of the shed is that nothing there ever really needs to be cleaned. Cobwebs are expected and empty paint cans add a spot of color here and there. Clean cat litter on the floor helps soak up any spills and rags never need washed or folded, only thrown away when they are too worn out to be useful. If the shed is truly well-equipped and ready for all seasons, it will have a little wood stove so occasionally the trash can will be emptied. Old newspapers and crumpled cardboard boxes make great fire starters.

Chances are good that there’s an ancient radio in there somewhere, something good enough to catch a ball game or follow all the left turns of weekend NASCAR. If the knob’s a little loose and there’s a little static, all the better. That represents another thing that might get torn apart and fixed the day that every job gets done which is of course, some day. Outdated calendars and clocks without their batteries hang with impunity, suggesting that time has no power over what happens in the shed, unless it’s dinner time, of course.

Dinner will be ready in an hour is the language of an ancient and ingrained ritual, a signal to a man that there’s still an hour he can call his own. Like every other creature that knows how to respond to the call of its mate, the human male responds: Okay. Gimme a hollar. I’ll be out in the shed.



  1. I’m a new fan. I look forward to following your blog. Thank you! Sadly, I no longer post regularly but I appreciate knowing a new reader will be ready for a fresh story! MK

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