In a bygone era of gray flannel suits and ad copy that read as sincerely as a minister’s sermon, masculine sanctuary within the realm of the family home came in three flavors: the study, the workshop, and the bar. Kids weren’t allowed in these places, not just because Dad needed some time away from the tiny demons who had sabotaged his dreams, but also because there was nothing for kids to do in these places. They were adult rooms where serious business transpired. The study was for drinking Scotch while pondering the works of Aristotle and Hugh Hefner. The workshop was for drinking beer while building a new doghouse or set of bookshelves. The bar was for drinking Mai Tais while flirting with the neighbor’s wife.

It’s possible a great degree of contemplation went into the various iterations of these three templates, but not probable. The goal wasn’t… More…

In my bedroom, my father crouches close to the ground. He’s wearing jeans, a long-sleeve collared shirt, and a dark-green fleece vest. In his right hand he holds a hammer. His face is solemn, and his eyes are focused down. He’s staring at a small plastic bag of screws, pegs, and nails.

My dad understands how to use all of these fasteners. He’s worked with wood since high school, when he built a bed from scratch. The man knows his oak from his pine, his awl from his planer. But right now, my dad is confused, hesitant.

He is helping me put together my IKEA “Aneboda” bed.

My father pulls open the plastic bag and dumps its contents on the ground, separating the different fasteners into little piles. While he’s doing this, my boyfriend and I start laying the particleboard pieces of the bed around him like we’re reconstructing a… More…