The Bargain

This post is from “The Pegu Blog.”

This set of thoughts on Basement Bar design, and mantuary design specifically, is addressed primarily to married men, or men who live with the same woman full time and might as well be married. If you don’t figure this out before you build your Basement Bar/Mantuary, you will figure it out after, therefore it is best to keep it in mind at the design stage. It will save you a lot of work.


There is an implicit bargain in the creation of the Man Cave, a social contract if you will, that you will enter into when you carve out your sanctuary within the home. 

 Here it is:

The Bargain: Men want their space, and women will happily let them have it. But. When guests of both sexes come over, the man cave must be rendered fit and open for visits from the ladies.

It’s a simple bargain, but complex in application. First off, understand that no actual visit, or intention thereof, by women to enter your man cave, is needed to trigger the terms of the Bargain. The party may be set up in the back yard. You might just have invited the Johnson’s over to play Pictionary. It might even be her teetotalling Aunt Bettie, inviting herself to dinner. You might go a year without any outside women entering your bar. But your lady, no matter how great a broad she may be, is going to countenance the possibility of her frenemy Susan from Accounting being told she can’t enter your Mantuary. Second, you need to understand that the bargain is not really about her friends being allowed into your sanctuary. She just needs to know that she can be welcome wherever you are. This dynamic changes from couple to couple, of course. Some Mantuarys really are retreats, where the man of the house goes to be separate from the woman. Others are simply the one area of the house where the man has primary control over the design and appearance of the space… subject of course to the Bargain. Essentially, you can put a No Gurlz Aloud sign on the door, but the Bargain says you can’t nail it in place. Finally, the Bargain has a practical element to it as well. For most people, if you construct a really cool Basement Bar, it will be the best entertainment space in your house. It is only natural for her to want to enjoy it too at times. So, we understand that there will be times when women will enter our Man Cave, our Mantuary, our Basement Bar. What is entailed in making it fit for this experience? There are two factors at play, design and maintenance. First off, maintenance. Keep it clean guys. Remember the frenemy Susan? Imagine is she and your wife walked in to see this:



The next time you slept in your own bed would be during the Palin administration…. In all seriousness, mess is easy to prevent, and a bitch to clean up. In particular, watch out for smells. Limes smell great when you juice them, but not so much after ten days in the trash. And once smells set in in a Basement, they require significant effort to remove. If you don’t have a dishwasher down there (and sometimes even if you do), washing up all your glassware and bar tools in the half hour before your friends come over can be… stressful. In addition to cleaning, maintenance covers basic repairs. Depending on your design choices, ratty armchairs may be acceptable, or they may not. When stuff gets broken, fix it. Chances are you want your Basement Bar to look great fulltime too. The Bargain can be useful to you as well, as an incentive to make sure you do the needed work. Finally, think through the Bargain when you design and decorate your Basement Bar. Carefully. Your design choices may or may not need to be woman welcoming, or even friendly. But they can’t be (your) woman hostile. There is the obvious, of course:


 You may or may not be able to get away with this, your mileage may vary. A beer-centric Basement Bar with lots of ads, a few of which are Rule Fiveish, may fly. For the lounge lizards, you might try artwork like this:


 But as I said, your mileage will vary, and not just with, ahem, artwork. In my house, I could go with the right Vargas-style liquor ad, but I’d get shot down if I wanted to fill the walls with dead animals.:


This is not to say that you can’t have things in your Man Cave that annoy your significant other. Say you are one of those tragic Islanders-Rangers marriages. Your Basement Bar’s whole reason for existence may be to be the one floor on which you can have your Rangers rug. And as a bonus, that rug will probably be the one thing allowed to become and remain stained! Regardless of what you put in your design, the important point is to keep your woman in mind (even, gasp, consult her) as you put together your Basement Bar. Whether it is a literal sanctuary, or just the one place where you get control over the stuff, she needs to know that she isn’t completely excluded. But on second thought, don’t let the Rangers rug get stained. It might be her plan to get it past repair, then invoke the Bargain. After all, she has the perfect sized Islanders rug in mind


3 Comments on “The Bargain”

  1. Jeanmarie says:

    good points. hey did you consider a dishwasher down there? you could get a small drawer one like we have. we have two, but you could just get one drawer.


    • oshea12566 says:

      Thank you very much for the suggestion!! I considered a dishwasher for the bar. The smaller ones are very expensive. And how many dishes will I be washing ya know? I could not justify the cost with what it would be used for. I can wash the glasses in the sink, and dinner parties..well…we can carry the dishes upstairs. Plus, and this is a big plus…space is at a premium. The space that is left is reserved for an ice maker and a fridge with a glass door. Than that is it, no more room. Would rather have an ice maker than a dishwasher.


  2. Jeanmarie says:

    Ya I hear ya. I almost didn’t write the comment. Figured, washing glasses isn’t that bad, plus you can (Gawd forbid) carry them upstairs.


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