A Tour of BudMan's House

06 Apr 2006

At some point, many posts ago, I think I mentioned my brother in law, and he's definitely a character who belongs in this blog. There's only one name he can go by in here, and that would be BudMan. So, think of this post as simply a character sketch. In the name of brevity, I'll just make this an introductory post, leaving plenty of opportunity for follow-ups.

BudMan's sort of a contractor for a living. However, he lives way up in the mountains ofNortheast PA where they don't always use actual money for things.It's really more of a barter system in those parts, at least as far as "stuff" is concerned. With the exception of food and beer, almost everything else in life is obtained via trade -- and BudMan is a master at wheeling and dealing. Just wait until I get to the unbelievable list of shit he has at home.

Anyway, I said "sort of" a contractor, though, because in those parts, there aren't really stringent building codes and so forth. You want a house in the woods? Fine, just go build it. There aren't any of those pesky "building permit" annoyances that you find in larger cities. Oh sure, it's all illegal, but no one enforces that crap up there. There are people living in fairly nice homes that, as far as the local government is concerned, do not officially exist. City folks are probably balking at that statement: Yeah, but what about homeowners insurance, what about liability issues, what about tax assessments? If those are thoughts you're having, you're way over-thinking this. People don't consider these things in those parts. As I said, if you need a house, you simply build it and then move in.

Five years ago, I began remodeling my own basement, and BudMan came down to give me a crash course on construction. He didn't have any construction jobs at the time, so he said he'd come down and work for $100/day plus beer. Hell, that sounded reasonable to me, so he made the trip down and we bought a shitload of lumber and tools at my local Home Depot.

Over the next week or so, he taught me all of the basic stuff that carpenters know. For example, I now understand why a good hammer is 16" long (so you can easily measure that common length when you're framing or nailing up drywall).Other things were equally enlightening. When we opened up his new framing nailer (he'd bought another just for the occasion), the very first thing he did was to grab his razor and cut a thick red piece of plastic off of the gun. This was something that appeared to me to be a part of the gun itself, so I was a little confused to see him apparently destroying the thing ten seconds after getting it out of the box.

"What was that?" I asked him.

"Safety device," he grumbled, as though annoyed that it was there in the first place. "We don't need that."

Cool.I knew we'd be having a good time. In no time, I gained an appreciation for tools powered by compressed air. For example, he showed me how to fire framing nails across the room like bullets -- mega fun! (Caution: Wear eye protection during target practice. Those ricochets can get you.)

As you can see, BudMan marches to the tune of a different drummer. He explained his philosophy of life to me many times, of course, but none so clearly as one time a couple of years back.He'd acquired a hot tub through one of his infamous bartering deals, and had modified his back deck to support it. It was pouring rain one evening and no one else cared to lounge in the thing except for the two of us.So, we grabbed about 30 Budweisers, and headed out for the evening. There didn't seem to be any lightning -- well, none touching down, anyhow -- so it seemed safe enough. Actually, it was probably good that none of the wives wanted to join us, because, pounding all of that Budweiser, you had to jump out of the damn thing every ten minutes to answer nature's call. Fortunately, at BudMan's house, you can simply pee off the back deck. Try that in the city!

So, we're lounging in the Jacuzzi, a good way into the 30-pack, and BudMan says, "You know, Patrick, I figure fuck it."

Right away, I could relate to what he was saying. When you've got a frosty cold one in your hand and you're relaxing in a hot tub on a deck in the woods in the pouring rain, it's pretty much a given that you're thinking that exact thought. I've known the guy for going on 20 years now, so I knew what he was getting at. But, it being a casual conversation and all, he went on. "All I want to do in this life is have fun. That's it. If it's not fun, I don't give a fuck about it. I'm here on this earth to drink beer and enjoy myself. And, if she [gesturing inside toward "the wife"] doesn't like it, then fuck her too."

I'm sure BudMan sounds like a bona fide hero to a lot of guys out there by now. But, I haven't done him justice just yet. You have to consider all of the shit he's accumulated in the name of this philosophy.I'll make a short list off the top of my head:

  • Never fewer than 100 Budweisers in the house at any given time.
  • Many, manyguns (pistols, rifles, shotguns, etc.)
  • The aforementioned hot tub
  • A couple of jet-skis
  • Numerous snowmobiles
  • Several two-wheeled motorcycles
  • Several "quad runner"-type motorcycles
  • A full-sized trampoline
  • A dump truck
  • *A skidsteer (which is sort of like a versatile, mini-bulldozer)
  • *Projection TV, with no less than a 1,000DVD library
  • Spiral stair cases (just because they're cool).
  • A giant rec room in the basement, complete with a full-sized bar, pinball machine, foosball table, and a huge circuit training workout machine.
  • Bathroom with a urinal. How many guys have that?
  • An enormous black-light floor lamp, which they use for regular "black light" parties
  • *An "Orbitron" (also known as the Human Gyroscope ride -- pictured at the top of this post)
  • A dam. (That's right, he actually built his own personal dam, which is probably about 50 yards across.)
  • Plus, about 10 Pitbulls at any one time roaming the property.

I'm not sure if that's a full list, but you get the picture. Strangely, I've never been bored at his house. Each one of those items could probably be its own post, if I ever decide to pursue it. It's tough to keep up with that crowd, though, when you visit. Trust me:It takes some getting used to -- to live your life as one extended party. Inevitably, it winds up being, oh,3:30 a.m. or so, and I start to run into difficulty standing. I seem to always apologetically bow out around that time and hope to find his couch to pass out on. (This usually makes for a difficult six-hour trek back home the next day.) As for the others, they seem to keep on going well into the morning. In fact, I don't know when they sleep.

More later ... I'm trying to keep my posts a little shorter.

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