by Laura Matiz
In the spirit of this Sunday's Father's Day, I was thinking about more meaningful gifts than a book, a tie, or a summer polo shirt. One gift idea that came to mind is a "man cave" just for Dad. By now, most readers are likely familiar with the term: a space in the den or basement for men middle aged and older to watch sports, play pool, or drink a few beers with pals. A place to tune out the stresses of modern life. Wi-Fi required.
It is not easy to set up that special space for Dad in most NYC apartments given space limitations. The man cave has to be more a concept than a separate room. The man cave will likely be a nook, but creating a nook is infinitely more doable. A nook can be carved out of any existing room by moving some furniture around. So what are some ideas?
First, a man cave must serve Dad's favorite pastime. Here are three examples for Dad, the reader; Dad, the sports fan; and Dad, the music fan:
For Dad, the reader: the nook must be a quiet and comfortable place to sit with a book. A nice club chair, a lamp, a small table to hold beer and snacks, and an accessible shelf to hold the library should suffice. Place it behind the large sofa or in the corner of a dining room. The nook should be away from the heavy traffic of the apartment, but close enough to the fridge. Top it off with a gift certificate to B&N with a reminder of their same-day delivery in Manhattan and an account on Goodreads.com.
For Dad, the sports nut: the nook must have space for a 4K TV (HDTVs are so yesterday) which means power and cable feeds must be nearby. Like the reader nook, a comfortable seat is a must—many games now last more than three hours and some Sundays, there are three games that have to be watched. The TV doesn't have to be as big as the one in the living room, but it has to be big enough so that it doesn't feel like a computer screen.; that's what Dad has stared at all week and he needs a break. This set up is more challenging in a small apartment, but you can take over the kid's room. She's in college anyhow. What are the chances Jill is coming back home after graduation? If you are not sure, do a partial conversion. Dad won't notice the pink tones once the game is on anyway. If Jill comes back home, getting the beer smell out of the rug should be fairly easy with modern cleaners.
For Dad, the music aficionado: take the readers's nook above and add an highly-rated self-powered speaker ($300 and up) and you would be set. Headsets are required because you need an alternative when you want to hear yourself think. Dad is always quoting the Spinal Tap movie's, "this amp goes to 11" line and on top of that, he is losing his hearing. You also don't want to blow out those expensive self-powered speakers the first week. Classical music and opera lovers will also enjoy the headsets to avoid overhearing the housewives of New York bickering while you are watching the TV. One more optional but critical addition for the music lover is a turntable. It will make Dad feel young again. The turntable can be purchased at any of the eleven Urban Outfitters stores in Manhattan. If you don't have that hipster look, this is where the kids can help with the shopping. They won't seem so out of place at Urban Outfitters. Setting up the turntable will require a little more space to hold the vinyl, but draw the line on the peach crate that held his records back in the '70s. That look just won't work in your apartment anymore.
Once the man cave (um, nook) is ready, Dad will brag to all his friends about his special place. That will make you so happy you didn't get him another tie. And, if you do it right, you can even tell him that it raised the value of your apartment.
Happy Father's Day!