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Man Cave in the City

What happens when the last single guy in your group and the host of your decade-long poker tradition gets hitched? If you're my husband and 16 of his friends, you fork over some cash and rent yourselves a shared man cave.

The space, which they've dubbed "The Clubhouse," is a studio apartment they rent in a small walk up building just a few blocks from our house in Manhattan. Yes, that's right: They all chip in to rent a man cave!

And what happens in The Clubhouse? Well, they play poker, they watch sports, they eat disgusting amounts of junk food, they chug growlers, smoke cigarettes. They probably have farting contests for all I know.

Honestly, I couldn't care less what my husband does there -- because I need that man cave as much as he does.

When we first got married I hated Monday night poker with the fire of a thousand suns. My new husband came home stinking of cigarettes (yuck!), and worse, I missed him. But boy, did I wise up fast. Within six months I realized that Monday night poker -- and his male-bonding time in general -- was key to the success of our marriage. Not only did it make him so happy, but after weekends of 24/7 togetherness, Monday evening was the perfect time for us both to take a break and regroup.

Now, I think I need poker night more than he does.

A night for me to sit on the couch and watch trashy TV without anyone telling me how "Gossip Girl" is rotting my brain? Yes, please! I also take the opportunity to order in all the yummy vegetarian food my husband hates. Monday nights have become my night off, too: No cooking required, no dinner plans, no compromising on TV shows... it's awesome.

And all the wives agree. We sometimes use poker night to see sappy romantic comedies or grab dinner, but mostly, we just chill at home. Most of us are either stay-at-home moms or work from home so we often get a chance to get together during the day, but without poker night the only time my husband would see his friends is with me at his side at parties and dinners.

So when my husband's 10-year-strong poker tradition was in danger of folding, all the husbands and wives were in a tizzy. Considering that we all live in normal-sized Manhattan apartments (a.k.a. small ones!), a creative solution had to be found.

None of the wives would ever dream of allowing Monday night poker/football anywhere near our apartments. Why? 17 men in one apartment with a sleeping toddler in the next room? Not going to happen.

Their solution? The clubhouse.

I don't know who came up with this idea, or how they actually made it happen, but The Clubhouse (a.k.a. man cave) is a centrally located studio apartment that all the guys co-rent by chipping in roughly the cost of a NYC gym membership. This includes once-a-week maid service, cable and Wi-fi. The clubhouse is furnished with discarded bachelor furniture: gigantic leather sectionals, a poker table, and various pieces of cheap furniture. By chance, it has exposed-brick walls. Nice touch, right?

Although poker night is its biggest draw, some of the guys show up for different sporting events throughout the week, like football on Sunday or random Knicks games. They each have their own number keys, and refer to each other by number.

At first the wives had really mixed reactions to it, including me. It just felt really strange and wrong. A clubhouse? A separate, rented apartment that has rules including "No Girls Allowed"? Something just felt really off about this. What if the men bring other women there? The fact that they told us, "there's no bed at the clubhouse," actually made me worry more. As if any of us are foolish enough to think you need a bed to have an affair.

But then I realized: you also don't need a clubhouse either, do you? Not to mention one that's within three blocks of your wife, kids and everyone else you know. Oh yeah, and 17 of your friends have keys!

Some people have asked us wives: Why should the men have all the fun, don't the chicks want a clubhouse, too?
The answer: No, we don't. Since we aren't revolting pigs, we can actually use our own apartments for socializing with other women. I host "Real Housewives" -- watching marathons, book clubs and dinner parties at my apartment all the time. Only now my husband has somewhere to escape to when I have 10 girls in my living room discussing Camille and Kelsey Grammer's divorce.

Suburban men build man caves in their basements or garages and that's pretty much not an option in Manhattan, but by sharing the costs, our husbands were able to keep their mantime alive.

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