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Aw, yeah -- being a dude is pretty sweet. No one expects you to care about fashion, gardening or ignoring an itchy body part. In our increasingly gender-neutral culture, though, puberty can be a distant memory before someone finally tells a fella, "Welcome to manhood."
So thanks, Tom Stein, inventor of the Man Table, for putting that warm greeting atop the product's website. What's a Man Table? Only the greatest thing since Viagra. Check the press release accompanying its
official launch this month, which calls it "a dual-purpose product that pleases both
husband and wife." Mmmm.
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Mmmm ... beer. That's right -- it's a refrigerator hidden inside custom wood furniture, and it holds about 50 cans.
"I got married, and my wife wouldn't let me keep a refrigerator next to the couch," Stein says of the Man Table
's genesis. He still says there's nothing wrong with a living room that's bookcase, sofa, kegerator, but he concedes that hiding the cooler is "more aesthetically pleasing."
Stein's first design called for a coffin-style refrigerator camouflaged as a coffee table. "We could never get rid of the cord," he says. Another few months of designing and testing led to the smaller model available now, which he says shouldn't be mistaken for any old dorm refrigerator. The unit is a 1.68-cubic-foot Danby
refrigerator, one that dispenses with freon and a condenser in favor of eco-friendly thermo-electrics. Assuming he leaves the couch long enough to recycle those beer cans, the Man Table lets a dude be a dude without leaving a Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint.
Stein and his partner have sold 10 Man Tables so far, with another set just about ready for deployment. At about $400, stealthy manhood doesn't come cheap, but the refrigerator isn't a bargain model, and the woodwork (executed locally, in Stein's Crossroads space) isn't assembly-line. "It takes about four man hours to make each one," Stein says. (What other kind of hours would go into a Man Table?) They weigh 55 pounds each, but the price includes delivery.
A revolutionary idea in beverage and marital preservation is bound to attract venture capital, but Stein doesn't plan to sell out just yet. "I want to stay in the Crossroads if I can," he says. "And I'm a home brewer myself, so we're working on a kegerator model. The problem has been hiding the stem." But with enough insulation, he says, the stem can double as a lamp.
Good thinking, man.