Welcome to Man Town

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By Cate Drew
“Man Town” is my husband’s workshop above the garage, and with the arrival of warm weather, he takes a break. I’d like to think he wants to spend more time with the family, but the real reason is there’s no air conditioning up there, and while it’s manly to work up a sweat, it’s not manly to drop dead in 100-degree heat…

Matt was thrilled when we bought the house and he discovered the large empty space above the garage. He wasted no time moving in his tools, but being an apartment dweller, he didn’t have much: two screwdrivers, a ratchet set, a hammer, and some nails.

The lack of tools didn’t mean a lack of enthusiasm, though, and before I knew it, Matt had a charge account at Home Depot and he used it to buy what he needed. And he needed plenty.

Table saw, planer, skil-saw, saw horses, shop-vac, and thousands of nails, screws, clamps, and washers. He built tables for his tools and big chests to stow even more stuff. He bought a bar stool to sit on, fans to keep the air circulating (“Lotta sawdust up there, honey”) and a boom box to play Motown tunes at nursing home decibels.

And he built stuff. Adirondack chairs, garden benches, tables, you name it. I enjoyed the fact that he was enjoying himself — until he decided to build a door.Husband Chair - LaughLInes

Or, as we call it, The Door (duh-duh-duh-dummm….).

This isn’t a regular door. This is a castle-sized door. It weighs several hundred pounds. It’s seven feet high, 4 inches thick, with inlaid paneling and a little square peep hole at eye level that will have wrought iron bars (thanks to our welder neighbor).

For more than two months, Matt’s only Man Town conversations were about The Door. “Finished the front paneling on The Door today, hun….Sixth coat of varnish on The Door is drying….Gotta work on The Door tonight after dinner….”

You may ask, “What’s The Door for? Where will it go?” No idea. Matt has no idea either. He just decided to make a door, and the result was The Door (duh-duh-duh-dummm….).

Could be the portal to an alternate universe for all I know. That’s why I’m keeping the kids away from it.

Our family and friends think The Door is a sign Matt is a little ‘out there,’ but I’m not worried. Some men have Man Towns with cable TV, mini-fridges, and Playboy centerfolds tacked on the walls. Some men drink, some men gamble, some men chase women.

My man builds strange doors to nowhere, and maybe that’s what Man Towns are for.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll open The Door someday and find Amelia Earhart holding a big laundry basket filled with all the socks that have disappeared from my dryer.

Cate Drew




About Cate Drew

I’m on the high side of 40, with three dogs, two teens and one husband, living in a small New England town in a house that’s never quiet. Ever. It’s not that I have a really colorful life – I just tend to write colorfully about it. And there’s plenty of material: marriage to the Man of a Thousand Bad Ideas,.. my mom, who moved Dad’s coffin closer to the street six months after he died so she could visit his grave as a kind of drive-up window…our dog posse…our kids…lots of siblings and in-laws, former co-workers, old boyfriends -- they’re all here. Toss in 14 years of Catholic school and you’ve got a lot of guilt, too. Which reminds me: forget “high side of 40.” I’m 51, damnit.