No humans allowed down under

By Dick Wolfsie

My home office is downstairs, which was just a cellar when we moved into the house 25 years ago. We invested a little money to fix it up, so then it became a basement.

I guess you could call it a finished basement. But apparently it wasn’t finished, because the builder we hired said that for a few extra bucks he could add some decorative touches and then we could call it our lower level. We didn’t have “that” kind of money.

Our original plan was to make it one, large, beautiful room where we could entertain guests, and sip white wine as we talked about good books and the current movie scene. But now, no humans are allowed downstairs except me and the men from Orkin.

In the center of the room is a pool table that I bought in 1998 when I wanted to get my son interested in something other than video games. We have never completed a game of pool. I use the cue sticks to wrangle cobwebs from the ceiling.

I can store a dozen suitcases under the base, and the top of the table is the perfect nesting area for a year’s supply of Bush’s baked beans. Each side pocket holds a flashlight. Corner pockets? Duct tape, scotch tape, masking tape and electrical tape. And my wife said we’d never use the thing. Geesh, what a pessimist.

Somewhere under boxes of old paperback books and musty blankets is a futon, which we thought would be a cheap and convenient extra bed. It took three defensive linemen to negotiate the stairwell to get the thing down to the basement.

I don’t know what the mattress is made of, but the cat sees the unit as a condo — two beds and a bath, if you know what I mean.

I just Googled ‘futon’ to find out the origin of the word. There were links to websites that discussed serious sleep disorders, including one called exploding head syndrome. I don’t want to overreact, but I am keeping a close eye on that cat.

In 2000 I decided to learn to play the piano, so I spent a hunk of money on an electronic gizmo called a Clavinova. It can be programmed to mimic 30 different instruments, create background rhythms and magically produce chords. All I had to do was sit there… and make payments.

We built a bar in the corner so guests could grab a nice cold one without climbing the stairs. But we never put in a fridge, as we planned. Anyone can mosey behind the bar to see our new sump pump. We may install it any year now.

The other day I noticed a huge, emerald green slab resting against a wall, half-hidden behind stacks of clothing and picture frames. I asked my wife about it. “That’s a ping-pong surface, Dick. It fits over the pool table.” I guess we’ve never used that, either.

I told Mary Ellen it was about time we invited some friends over and finally played some pool and table tennis downstairs.

But first, I have a whole lot of beans to eat.

Television personality Dick Wolfsie writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to