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Susan McCorkindale

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De-Man Cave or Un-Man Cave? That is the Question.

Posted: 06/06/2013 6:27 pm

For the record, and despite a previous post that may have sounded to the contrary, I did not move into my fiancé's home and de-man cave it. Or maybe it's un-man cave it. I'm not sure and Urban Dictionary appears to be mute on the matter. In any case, the fact remains that the animal remains my sweetheart uses as decorative accents, remain.

The 12-point elk head over the 22-foot fireplace? I made my peace with it, named him "Curtis," and talk to him a dozen times a day.

"You like this here, Curtis?" I ask, moving a lamp to the center of the piano, "Or here?" I continue, returning it to its original spot on the far left. "Chris likes it there, but I need it to see the sheet music so the center is better." I glance up at Curtis, who says nothing, most likely because he's heard me play and would prefer I take up a nice, quiet hobby, like shooting heroin. I find the big, dead head's silence insulting but still, I leave the lamp on the left, where it's better for all our ears, if not my veins.

"How's it going, Curtis?" I holler as I whisk past carrying a dilapidated cardboard box bursting with hair products I don't use, will probably never use, but can't bear to part with because as soon as I do, I'll decide what I really need to feel pretty are a few pink streaks or some glitter and the stuff will be gone. And then what'll I do? I'm certain Curtis wants to hear me complain about as much as he wants to hear me play the piano.

And I'm pretty confident his friends feel the same way.

That's right, his friends. Three animal skulls that hang out around the hearth and that I also left right where they are. I'm unsure what they were when they were alive but, if I know my man, they weren't deer. That would be too tame. They were probably mountain lions or bobcats, maybe even cougars. Now that I think about it, I'm almost sure he said two were bears and the other was a wild boar. I'd ask him but at this particular moment he's fishing his way through the French Polynesian islands, probably duking it out with a 7-foot Marlin or a shark he'll ship home to complement Curtis.

Oh thank you, sweetheart. I've always wanted a Surf and Turf style living room!

In any case, I christened Curtis's three friends Enid, Pete and Chaz, rid them of the long-dead stinkbugs clinging to their teeth, and positioned them facing each other so they could chat. I realize my encouraging a couple of carcasses to talk amongst themselves sounds crazy, and my talking to them doesn't sound much saner, but isn't it kind of akin to talking to plants? Lots of people talk to plants. I do too, but since they usually keel over and die when hit with my Fran Drescher honk, I try to limit my yakking to things I can't kill because they're already dead.

But I digress.

My point is simply this: Not only did I not de-man cave (or maybe it's un-man cave, I still don't know and Urban Dictionary has yet to respond to my email) my honey's house, I embraced it. I didn't just incorporate the skulls and the antlers and the rifles and yes, even the shockingly long walrus penis bone my almost-husband has displayed in the master bath into my decorating endeavors, I highlighted them. Brought them to the fore. Even surrounded them with flowers. And you know what? They looked delightful and unfortunately, delicious.

Not to me, of course. I'll chatter at dead bones but I won't chew on them. That's for my dogs to do.

I was in the bathroom unpacking the box bursting with hair products I don't use, will probably never use, but can't bear to part with, when I heard a sound you never want to hear when you're in Someone Else's House. The sound of your dogs doing something awful to that Someone Else's Stuff.

I raced into the living room to find Tug, my beautiful but brainless Golden Retriever, and Grundy, my "never met anything I wouldn't eat" mutt, chowing down on Enid and Chaz. For some reason, they spared Pete. Why? You got me. Maybe they planned to split him later, but I don't know. My dogs talk to me about as much as my sons do. And now you know one of the reasons I make small talk with skeletons and Elk heads.

As for the others? Only my shrink knows for sure.

Snatching Enid from Tug was easy enough, but Grundy wouldn't let go of Chaz. After about a minute, I was able to pry the top of the poor thing's skull from the dog's mouth. That left just its jaw, with which we played tug of war long enough for a nasty, tar-colored tooth to snap off, smack me in the eye, and send me racing back to the bathroom screaming, "Damn dog!" and "Stupid tooth!" and "Why in God's name does Chris collect this crap?" And of course the most important plea, "Please God, don't let me go blind!"

At least not before I reunited Chaz with his chompers, and gave Grundy a piece of my unquestionably questionable mind.

Alas, both those goals would have to wait.

Shaking with relief that the damn tooth hadn't cost me a cornea, I returned to the living room to rescue the rest of Chaz. I headed straight for Tug and Grundy, who were crouched down and cowering in the corner, eyes closed, body language screaming, "You don't see us! You don't see us!" But I did see them. What I didn't see was Chaz's very pointy, very painful bottom jaw until the moment I stepped on it.

And saw stars.

And fell to the floor.

And noticed, as I connected with the carpet, that the dogs had also eaten the flowers I'd lovingly placed around Enid, Pete and Chaz.

As I sat there, holding my bloody foot and hurling Italian invectives at the dogs, the skulls, and especially Curtis, who'd done absolutely nothing but watch the whole thing with a smirk on his stupid stuffed face, I realized I'd brought the entire episode on myself. I hadn't just embraced my man's fish and shotguns and terrifying collection of stuffed turkeys, I'd girled them up. And that's the equivalent of de-man caving.

Or maybe it's un-man caving. I still don't know, but for the sake of what's left of my sanity, I'm making an executive decision. I'm going with de-man cave. And I will never, in any misguided way, shape or form, do it again. I've learned my lesson and it's this: not only is the road to Hell paved with good intentions, so is the road to the emergency room.

 

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