Marriage Separates Men from Their Toys


The moment I walked into the house, I knew instinctively that I didn’t belong--that none of my kind had been there for more than a weekend. The other women at the party given by the bachelor knew it, too. “My God,” whispered one, as we tiptoed through his apartment, “this belongs in a museum.”


He is young, very successful and very handsome, and he had outfitted his house by the water with every toy known to men.

It is a kind of compact Disneyland for guys. No sign of a woman’s touch anywhere except in its immaculate cleanliness. And that woman probably visits only every other Wednesday.


Sliding glass doors frame a view of the water. Outside, there’s a hot tub on the deck next to the hammock. A power boat, a catamaran, a windsurfer are docked nearby.

His basement game room is exactly that. Ping-Pong table, pool table, dart board, and a beautifully crafted cherry-wood bar, complete with a brass foot rail and every liquor and liqueur ever concocted. His state-of-the-art weightlifting machines are surrounded by a wall of mirrors. Nearby is a walk-in closet, empty but for 100 hangers that wait patiently for a party like this one.

In an upstairs family room, the head of a wild boar (wearing sunglasses) is mounted on the wall. Nearby, a bear skin and a deer’s head. The bachelor had been hunting in Alaska this year.

The dining-room set is immense, including a huge breakfront that housed, not grandma’s china, but a collection of crystal wine glasses. In the kitchen’s pantry, soda is stacked on each shelf. No Frosted Flakes, no Fruit Roll-ups, no Spaghetti-O’s.

“We have to see the bedrooms,” the women say to each other, whispering still. What boudoir tastes does the game room portend, we all wonder, though no one dares say it.

The master bath has a Jacuzzi tub, a stereo radio in the shower and glass shelves on which eight different colognes are displayed. No makeup bags, no curling irons. No fussy lace shower curtain.


And the bedroom . . . the bedroom. We are almost afraid to look.

Above the bed, a black velvet painting of a panther superimposed on an ancient pyramid. Stereo in the corner. We laugh nervously and quickly leave.

The quintessential guy place. So close to the core of manliness that the women--the wives--feel so ill at ease we want to sip our drinks in the driveway.

Discreetly, I ask the men--the husbands--what they think. But like the family dog, domestication seems to have erased their memories of life in the wild. “I think it needs a woman’s touch,” says one husband, and then he changes the subject.

My own husband walks straight to the pool table as if drawn by a magnet. I didn’t know he played. How could I not have known he played? He keeps winning. How could I not have known that he was good at it?

Later, I find him staring at the glistening steel of the weight machines and their reflection in the mirrors around them. “The only time I get to use my weights,” I hear him say, “is when I move them out of the way to get to the lawn mower.”

I didn’t know he still had those weights.

I confess that since we consolidated our households, my husband’s treasures--the bust of an American Indian, the painting he had done of a hang glider, the knight’s helmet ice bucket that held his change--made their way, slowly, secretly, out of our decorating scheme.


Seeing this bachelor pad made me ashamed that I had supplanted all his stuff with all of mine.

There are lace curtains in the bedroom he must share with me, and a gaggle of handmade dolls sit atop the quilted bedspread. I don’t recall ever asking him what he would like to hang above the bed.

Our garage holds not only his weights, but also his other keepsakes. His Iron City beer poster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, his painting of a mountain landscape, his model airplanes. Even the miniature railroad he creates each Christmas with the train his father gave him as an infant has moved from the family room to the garage. “I’ll buy a space heater,” he said cheerfully.

And so my face goes crimson and I stutter when, as we drive home from the bachelor’s party, my husband asks: “What ever happened to my Indian head statue anyway?”