Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Man Cave: Top 10 Chores for Men

Chores are an inescapable part of life. Meals gotta get cooked. Dishes gotta get done. Most chores are boring-but-essential busy-work. A precious few aren't. You see that picture to the left? That's what I did last Saturday. Splitting firewood is one of the "precious few". It's a sweaty, glove-wearing, sharp-tooled, brute-force-of-a-chore, 100% chock full of manly goodness.

And it got me thinking: what are some others?

I don't think the "precious few" are precious simply because they don't come around every day, like other chores do. There is more to it than that. They all have some component in them that appeals to a man's most primal instincts: to provide, to protect, to create, and to organize. With that in mind, I present:

10 Chores Every Man Should Do At Least Once a Year

10. Improve something around the house. Home maintenance sucks. It is work merely to return something to the way it was before. Home improvement, on the other hand, is awesome. It is work you choose to do, to make something better or create something that wasn't there before. Knock down a wall. Pour some concrete. Lay some carpet. Dream big.

8. Split firewood. An axe is good, but a splitting maul is better. There is nothing that compares to watching a piece of maple or cedar split cleanly in two and feeling that woody thunk as your blade sinks into the chopping block. It even smells good. There is a hypnotic rhythm to it. Be safe and swing mighty.

7. Plant and harvest something. Nothing beats the feeling of bringing dinner in from your backyard...from seeds you planted months ago. It is unadulterated hunter/gatherer. I can also tell you, from first hand experience, that the best tasting blueberries in the world are the ones you planted yourself.

6. Clean your garage, or attic, or basement. Arrange your tools on a peg-board. Bonus points for drawing little "chalk outlines" around each one. Discover a forgotten box in the corner and lose track of time while pawing through old photos or Boy Scout stuff. Pile up all the stuff that needs to be thrown out right in the middle of the room. Then refer to #9.

5. Fix something on your car. Cars are a necessary evil of life. Fifty years ago car maintenance was easier. As technology has advanced, the skill-set and tool arsenal necessary to diagnose and repair vehicle problems has grown beyond that of the average male. Reestablish your dominance by changing the oil, installing new headlights and wiper blades, or rotating the tires. It will help you feel better.

4. Do something for someone else. Don't expect or accept anything in return. The ability to think beyond one's self is a trait all the greatest men in history share. Join the club.

3. Sharpen a knife, shovel, axe or saw. You know that sound that metal makes as it passes across a sharpening stone? That is the sound of pure testosterone.

2. Dig a hole. A great big one, the deeper the better. Any reason will do. Get past the grass and the rocky top layer, down to where the dirt is rich and soft. It's almost a pleasure to dig in that kind of dirt. If you're digging in hard clay, even better. Now you have an excuse to use your pick axe. Need an added level of difficulty? Pull out a tree stump.

1. Cook the family dinner - over an open fire. A man that can't cook at least a few meals from scratch is a mollycoddled mamma's boy. Does she still wipe your nose too? Once you've mastered cooking from scratch, learn to do it the way God intended: over open flames. A barbecue grill barely counts. To reap the fullest rewards from this chore you have to do it while squatting on your haunches over an open ground-fire...that you started yourself...with flint and steel.

Bonus: Wash the dishes or do the laundry for your wife. Once a year. She deserves it.

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