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It's Nelly's World

Girl Cave

alec vanderboom

The concept of the man cave is one I get. I really, really get it. Indeed, I even appreciate it: it's pretty funny. It pokes gently at the core truth of those simple, primitive desires of many men--all I need, mate, is my machines, a pretty calendar to lay my eyes on every now and again the kind with nice headlights if you know what I mean, the calming scent of gas in the air, and enough time to work on my grease manicure--at the same time it's bizarrely pre-feminist, and a touch repellent for that. It posits women as the enemy, the perennial naggers who need to be escaped.

I am here to tell you, though, it's women who need a girl cave. Upstairs or down, there's nowhere to run: the dust bunnies mock you (they have a particularly wheedling voice, too), the Lego-strewn boy's room weeps, the stovetop begs, the stack of permission slips, applications, bills, and plans looks dourly on: I bet you're not going to deal with me today, either? I thought so.

No, we're going to the Girl Cave, where we can escape into a world of relative order (admittedly because there is simply less stuff than in the main house) and where there's supposed to be dirt, so we don't ever feel a duty-shirker here. Some kitty litter on the oil stains, a quick broom, et voila. Peace, quiet, and motorcycles. Oh, and whatever's playing on the college radio station. It comes in on the radio in the Girl Cave, though not in the house. Magic, eh?

This is my secret world. There's the Lario on the right and the Teutonic Hornet on the left, ready for an oil change. (Unseen behind them, under its black shroud, is a friend's old Kawasaki, awaiting resurrection after two years--oh, what a day that will be, anticipation growing with each new arrival of parts in envelopes and boxes.) I love my small collection of parts and tools and fluids; I love that they stand at attention on the shelves, patiently waiting for their moment. I rarely get rid of anything so long as it has once belonged in, around, or on a motorcycle. This is therefore a museum of my own making, of my particular history. (To throw a piece of it away would be like, say, disposing of a letter my father wrote me when I was away at school. Never. A part of him, and of us.) Also, you never know when something might come in handy. The weirdest odds and bits can be just the things you need--they are comforts for the future. Who, for instance, would have thought that I'd ever have a Lario again? Certainly not me. But in the bottom of the toolbox I find some bolts and sockets that fit only her.

This is where I escape--from the place that would hold me back, on a Sisyphean slope where the same household tasks, done, must be redone upon the morrow. This is where I escape--to the place of wishful dreaming and forward motion.

How can you tell this is a girl cave? Here's a hint: see the chandelier?