Man-Room at the Inn

A look at how B&Bs could adapt themselves to the ”man-cave” trend. Hint: Less frill, more foosball.

THE LATEST TREND in home decorating is the “man-room,” an alcove outfitted exclusively with testosterone-tinged technology: pool table, video games, 150-inch TV, and furniture (stuffed with the finest beans) upon which the resident troglodyte can plop his feet, brewski, and club. They used to call these rooms “basements.” But men have moved up in the domestic world. And surely it’s only a matter of time before this concept invades bed-and-breakfasts. Lock up the corn-husk dolls, Scotchgard the chesterfield—the B&B is about to become the BYOB.

The problem is this: men often find themselves at B&Bs for honeymoons, anniversaries, and other romantic occasions. But most of these manors, awash in antiques, with vintage dresses tacked to the walls, Caddie Woodlawn books on the nightstand, and a chamber pot in the corner, make men feel like museum-goers instead of Casanovas. Like they should be candlemaking, not canoodling. Testosterone checked at the door, an old Norwegian Bible staring at them from the bookshelf, men soon take to darning socks, playing the dulcimer, and wondering whether their wives should really be showing that much ankle. Crank up that Victrola, honey—let’s get this party started!

So can we agree on a kegerator? A small bedside beer fridge, just to get the PBR—er, juices—flowing. If it must have rosemaling on it, fine. And what if that Queen Anne mirror converted into a plasma-screen TV, and that Raggedy Ann doll was actually a mini-satellite dish? Instead of a four-poster bed, how about a goal-post bed? And maybe, only when it seems appropriate, guys can invite their friends over for a little foosball in the parlor. Perhaps that’s asking too much.

Before we get carried away, let’s set some man-room ground rules. No chairs in the room so brittle they can’t be jumped on during a football game, not that that would happen or anything. In fact, no chairs at all, unless they were carved by a chain saw. No soap that purports to deodorize, moisturize, tenderize, or do anything but clean. Also, meat may be cooked over any available spittoon, and any doilies left unattended may be stuffed into the nearest corncob pipe and smoked.

About the naming of rooms after colors, plants, geographical features, or dead people: rooms already have a name—it’s “room.” And the only acceptable paint scheme for a B&B room is camouflage, the better for paintball. After all, these are the only things a man wants to find in those baskets parked outside the room: beef jerky, paintball guns, and night-vision goggles.

When decorating a B&B, here’s a good rule of thumb: if a furniture item could be described as shabby, it’s in; if it’s “shabby chic,” it’s out. If the piece contains a sports logo, a cup-holder, or antlers, it’s definitely in.

Regarding driving directions: none shall be provided, as no man would ever follow them anyway.

Regarding pocket doors: they should make up their minds—are they in or out? Such equivocation is confusing to men.

Regarding quilts: secretly we love them, so long as they don’t look like they were made from a hobo’s pants.

Now about this breakfast thing. Men understand the need to socialize, and we enjoy swapping recipes for apple fritters as much as the next person. But trooping down to those shared tables, where “how are you folks doing?” really means “I heard you last night and you should be ashamed,” could easily be replaced by Arby’s coupons trucked up in the dumbwaiter. Anything, by the way, consumed within the B&B is called a man-wich, no matter what it actually is. Just like the water closet is the man-bowl and the cabinet of Victorian-era dolls is…with God now.

Men understand that the new era of man-room B&Bs (henceforth known as mansions or manors) won’t be for everyone. Especially since they’ll all be in Mankato. But humor us for a while. When we shape our fingers into pistols and make that “pyu-pyu” sound at you, play dead for a couple seconds—and feel free to fire back. Eventually, we’ll tire of the pup tent in the backyard, pull the pocket door closed behind us, and crawl back into the canopy bed. We are still wanted, right? Honey?

Tim Gihring is senior writer at Minnesota Monthly.