Once upon a time, there were two brothers. We’ll call them Harrison and William to protect their identities. Harrison and William grew up together in Connecticut, and after attending different colleges, they started their own internet marketing company – which they sold to Google last year, instantly turning them both into millionaires.
The brothers, who also both recently married, used some of the Google windfall to buy neighboring mansions in Greenwich. Harrison and William are also die-hard New York Yankees and Giants fans, and each made a point of setting aside one room in his new home as a decked-out man cave. Naturally, Harrison and William are pretty competitive with each other, and as each brother adorned his man cave with a fancy new appliance or piece of furniture, the other would have to one-up him.
Harrison mounted a 60” Samsung LED flat screen on his wall; William went with a 65”. After William spent a mint on a leather wrap-around banquette facing the TV in his cave, Harrison installed 10 movie theater style seats – complete with cup holders – in his. On and on this went, until both brothers had festooned their man caves with, essentially, the same products and fixtures. Then, when it came time to host a Super Bowl party for their friends, neither of them could claim a legitimate reason to host the gala over the other one.
They had spent a fortune making the “perfect” man caves, but in the end, neither brother felt their cave was particularly special. Like many Americans, Harrison and William suffered a bit from the Midas touch. In case you have forgotten the central tenet of the Greek myth, the Midas touch is not a magical gift, but a terrible affliction. Sure, everything Kind Midas touched turned to gold, but that included food and drink, and even his daughter. In other words, everything he laid hands on lost its actual value.
We have a bit of this problem today because our things have become so impressive – so golden – that they no longer really wow us. It used to be that you could impress a man with a giant flat-screen TV, some Bose surround-sound speakers, and a mini-fridge stocked with his favorite microbrew. But now all of those things are commonplace – even the microbrew. More than ever, we need experience in our lives – things that emotionally resonate.
This is something that Harrison discovered when, one night, he came home from the office and his wife presented him with an Eli Manning-signed Giants helmet, neatly encased in a glass box, which she had purchased from Steiner Sports, a New Rochelle-based collectibles company.
“This is fantastic,” Harrison yelped, practically jumping up and down. “I’m going to put this on a pedestal right by the entrance of the man cave. Giants fans can touch it for good luck on game day, like the Notre Dame players touching that “Play Like a Champion” sign as they leave the locker room.
Indeed, the Manning helmet became the tie-breaker that placed the aforementioned Super Bowl party squarely at Harrison’s house. Even William, despite his envy, couldn’t help rubbing that glass cube every time he visited his brother. “The magic flows from Eli to us!” he loved to say.
For his part, William, looking forward to baseball season, went to the Steiner website and purchased a Derek Jeter-signed, game-used bat, which he mounted above the flat screen.
“You’ve got your Eli good luck totem,” he told Harrison. “But I’m setting up more of a Jeter shrine.” There was little question of where they’d watch the World Series that fall.
Harrison and William can serve as a lesson to all men – and women – looking to appoint their new man caves; there should be less of a premium placed on appliances and furniture than on memorabilia and other charms for residents and their guests to enjoy. To put it another way – technically, anyone can buy a Samsung 60” LED flat screen, and anyone can buy a leather banquette.
But not everyone can have genuine artifacts signed by their sports heroes.
“Derek Jeter is not going to sign 1,000 bats,” says Brandon Steiner, CEO of the eponymous company. “Sometimes I wish he would, but on the other hand, that would make each bat less special. Derek signs about 50 bats for us per season – so each one is really priceless.”
Steiner Sports not only offers autographed memorabilia, but also the athletes themselves; the company represents its clients for paid appearances. Eli Manning doesn’t typically have a lot of free time but Steiner can often book him – and other stars – for corporate functions and private events.
“Hopefully he’ll be busy during the Super Bowl next year,” Harrison said to me over the phone recently, during our interview for this article. “But if not, you never know. Can you imagine walking into a Super Bowl party, and Eli Manning is there? My brother would flip out!”
Call Eric Schwager at Steiner Sports For Information On Setting up Your Personal Cave