Race season is upon us. This year we have a new mancave. Before, we went to the basement where a corner was the mancave with radio/cd player we listened to the race on that was playing upstairs on tv. On the basement's cement floor we stomped our cigarette butts. We talked as we felt like it without editing for kids. Times when the race was boring, Justin put radio on a heavy-metal station, long-hair auditorium rock, Led Zeppelin clones. My preference when listening to rock is punk, but Justin and Melvin don't care for punk. It doesn't matter that I'm not particularly a fan of auditorium rock, because I can listen to it without reaction. If I were to take control of the music for my own enjoyment, like they do, both of them would say, Uncle, before the end of the first minute of the first song. I like for my music to move ahead, have some drive. Long, slow guitar solos get boring after fifty years. For my enjoyment in the mancave, I'd want to hear The Used, Hole, Garbage, Jane's Addiction. Justin and Melvin would hate it. So I listen to snail slow heavy metal, long guitar solos, very few of them worth hearing a second time, or the first, Every once in awhile the dj will play a Stone's song and I send a mental thank you to the dj. And sometimes they play Billy Idol, who started as a London punker, in his American heavy metal period introducing punk rhythms into American metal. Also, we had the thrill of listening to Rodney Carrington, Larry the Cable Guy, David Allan Coe and others on cd. For me, who would rather be listening to a Dvorak quartet, there comes a time hearing somebody talk dirty the hundredth time, it turns into a chore to hear it. I confess, these comedians double me over laughing, the first, second and third times, but not the tenth.
Justin and Melvin's smart-phones have rendered the mancave more or less irrelevant the last months. Each one will go to some video game they're playing and totally zone out. They're playing different video games, though in their minds they're communicating, like watching television together. When they're both completely gone into their cell phones, I sit back and relax and visualize art projects I'm working on. Invariably, I come to resting my elbows on my knees and chin in the palms of my hands, looking in my head at different possibilities in a new art project, how to construct something, steps to take. It won't be long before somebody says, "You doin all right buddy?" Woke out of my reverie, I say, "Yeah, I'm just making art." "OK, just wantin to be sure you're all right." "I'm all right. No problem." They go back to cell phone games and I return to whatever construction I was working on. Neither one has any idea about things I call art. And I don't have any idea about what's important to them, hunting. We all see it like we have our own interests. I don't make like knowing about art makes me any better than them knowing about hunting. In fact, from my point of view, their interest is more practical than mine. I can't shoot an arrow down the shaft of the arrow I shot before it. Politically, they're of white working class Limbaugh mind, and I'm not. They can talk all they want from their point of view, and I can talk freely from my point of view. We don't argue. We just accept that each of us has our own point of view. They let me say the F-word, the C-word, the S-word, the L-word, the whole alphabet of forbidden words one is required to edit from one's speech to qualify a liberal. I'm not a liberal either. When I'm with my friends we say anything we want to say.
The mancave was really over when both Justin and Melvin got smart-phones. Vada had to wear shoes to come into the mancave, and somebody had to escort her on the steps. Crystal came to the mancave to have a cigarette and visit while Vada played before an audience. They want to do some serious work on the basement, inspiring Crystal to make a room upstairs into a mancave. Cheyanne not living with them anymore, her room was repainted and refurnished into the mancave. Even two pair of antlers were brought up from the basement. And the mancave has its own tv. Now the floor has carpet, meaning we have to use ashtrays. The television means we never can take a break from the tv, essential for my mental health. The door stays open and Vada likes to play on the floor with us around her. Crystal joins us. Crystal doesn't mind how we talk. We keep it cool when Vada is around. It wouldn't do for her to tell things we say at day-care. Vada is a spirit of light. I like having her in the room to distract me from the hours of television. If it were just the race, it would be ok, but with a thousand commercials it beats me down, makes me want to go home where it's quiet. I never listen to commercial radio at home, so I live free of commercials. By intent. Television on Sunday from one til nine at night and my circuits are fried. I enjoy watching the cars, then it's over, followed by hours of golf, and whatever sport is current. The mancave, before, was where I got away from the television. Listening to Aerosmith and Journey, bands I did not listen to in their time, is a welcome break from pictures of stringy cheese pizzas and cutting your cell phone bill in half with a chainsaw. Television has become surrealism, itself, but that still doesn't make it interesting enough to hold my attention for very long.
We don't talk anymore in the upstairs mancave like we talked down in the basement mancave. In the basement, we sat in a circle and talked. In the upstairs mancave, we sit in line, like on the seat of a pickup with space between us, all facing forward. We sit and gape at the tv. Somebody says something from time to time. It's more a den than a mancave, painted and decorated. A clean floor for Vada to play on is a plus. Where the mancave before was my distraction from the television, now Vada playing on the floor is my distraction. She doesn't just play on the floor. She is in motion all the time. She has learned and knows well her charm holds our attention. She makes us laugh. All of us love her as our own. She loves Melvin like a giant teddy bear. She found her plastic bucket of colored chalk. Brought it into the middle of the floor. She sat on the floor, took all the pieces of chalk out, one at a time, spread them over a small space on the floor. I picked up the camera to get some pictures of the universe of her colored chalk spread on the floor. I got the first picture and Justin told Vada to put them up. She started putting them back into the bucket, one at a time. I got a picture of Vada picking up the pieces of chalk. Cheyanne saw me with the camera, an opportunity to photo-bomb. It's in her and can't be trained out of her. She jumped in and scooped up as many pieces as she could hold in both hands, dumped them into the bucket, went back for more, cleaned them right up. I was sitting there in awe of what had happened just as I went to take some pictures of Vada's chalk. They went away. Zip, they were gone. All I could do was laugh at what happened before my eyes. Whatever pictures I wanted to get were not meant to be. It was so much like an act of God, a tornado, a hurricane, an earthquake, I accepted it as such and had a good laugh at the curious sequence of events. It was like focusing in on a good photo of a bird and just as I'm ready it flies.