A few weeks before Ava was born, I spent a lot of time in our home office, staring at the framed sports memorabilia, action figures and collectibles that I’d accumulated over the last 20 years. There were Legos and Pez, Bobbleheads, G.I. Joe’s and autographed baseballs. It was a wealth of evidence that demonstrated how I spent my free time before having kids. Every item had its own level of importance and when surrounded by my valuable keepsakes, I felt like Popeye after a healthy dose of spinach. I reeked of self-confidence and channeled immortality.
I have a crisp recollection of the day in which I first realized that, if we were expecting, this baby would most likely be moving into our house. And if this baby is moving in, then we’ll have to clear some space. As I milled over the potential options in my head, I discovered the logical choice was going to be dismantling my beloved man-cave and converting it into a girl’s nursery via the detonation of the color pink.
I had a few weeks before I needed to clean it out, but who could enjoy sitting in this room, knowing that everything was about to be pushed into the corners or taken to storage? It felt like watching someone close to you on life support, and I couldn’t bear the pain any longer, so I pulled the plug.
It’s tough to part with a bunch of junk that you think is valuable, but it wasn’t dying. It was just suffering the unfortunate fate of being stuffed into a dark, depressing storage unit down the street. I made excuses to myself as to why some things had to stay. I started shoving toys in the cabinets and under the bed in an effort to save them, but then, had an epiphany. I owned one remaining piece of real estate in our house. MY bathroom.
It was the bottom of the 9th, 2 outs and I stepped up to the plate to rally some sort of offensive and pitch my wife the idea of changing the theme in my bathroom. Forget about the jasmine scented soaps and embroidered hand towels from Barney’s. I pulled out the big guns and did what any real man would do:
I threw a dramatic tantrum in the middle of the supermarket. My plan worked perfectly. Address it in public and no one gets hurt. It was primarily embarrassing for her and I could tell by the way she was pushing the cart really fast that she wanted to get away from me, pronto.
NOTE: Tantrums are for 4 year-olds, but in rare cases they work for adults.
I ended up keeping the Pez dispensers, 500 wine corks (because seriously guys, I’m going to make that corkboard someday), the vintage signs and collectibles. To get my prizes off the showroom floor, I mounted everything to the wall or stuffed them into huge glass containers. Sure, I’m worried it’s a potential earthquake hazard, but this is all I have left people. These are the scraps of a once wealthy collection.
I operate my cluttered 9×9, toy-filled bathroom like a climate-controlled museum and access is now strictly monitored. It’s a fragile microcosm and in an effort to avoid sweat-bending any of the figurine cardboard, I’ve committed to taking brief, cold showers to eliminate steam. A small price to pay to be surrounded by good company. I do most of my hiding in there now, and I’ll admit, I can really cozy up, sitting on the hard plastic toilet seat lid feathering through a recent copy of the Beckett’s baseball card price guide.
Once I close the door, it’s like a full-on Calgon commercial. Take me away brother, Hallelujah! Like a rapper rolling in dollar bills, I dive in (try not to hit my head on toilet) and reminisce with my old friends. I enjoy the silence, avoiding a potential interrogation from Jen about whether or not I washed Ava’s socks inside out to reduce fading. The closed door also guarantees I won’t hear a shrieking baby.
From here on out, I figured that any important phone calls or meetings I’d be having are probably going to end up here, since it was now the quietest room in the house. And since I’m recently unemployed, I also moved the placard from my desk, the one with my name on it, into a prime position next to the soap dish.
So Mi Casa, Su Casa people, I’m taking meetings.