Life doesn’t get stale in the bachelor’s preserve |

Life doesn’t get stale in the bachelor’s preserve

Open Space
Derek Franz
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

On Friday I woke up in a gigantic bachelor pad called “The Preserve” by those familiar with it. What the place is preserving I don’t know, but I’m trying to figure it out.

Not counting the cow dog, Challis, there are seven 20-something male tenants inhabiting the cold, dilapidated mansion. However, I think the energetic, stub-tailed, tall-eared, white and brown dog fully qualifies as an eighth bachelor.

Indeed, the Salt Lake City residence is a stark contrast to the warm, clean marital nest of my friends in Bozeman, Mont. Not a clean dish or utensil exists among the sticky crumbs of the Preserve’s coffee-stained kitchen. Greasy pans sit on the stove. Bottles ” full and empty ” of homemade wine line cupboards, tables and counter tops. (One of the hand-drawn wine labels reads, “Challis is a Ball Eater” and is complete with a crude picture of a phallus-chomping K-9; another reads, “Jesus Christ is coming back … get drunk now!”).

The microwave looks more like a unit for biohazard disposal and I’ll spare you descriptions of the bathrooms, though they almost seem cleaner than the kitchen. One of my Bozeman roommates complained about my lack of cleaning when I left; now I hope she will rest easier knowing that karma ran its course and my appetite suffered.

At this point I should clarify I’m was only passing through, stopping to see a couple of friends I know from college. I was a guest and it feels wrong to suggest criticism of their housekeeping ” it’s just that the place is so strange I can’t stop putting it into words.

Ironies simply abound there. For example, my friend John is an engineer who helps people improve the energy efficiency of their homes. That usually amounts to addressing heat loss, yet I’ve seen John working at his own table in a hat and zipped-up down jacket. And on the night I arrived, John put me up in an unheated wing of the house. He assured me there was no chance I would be bothered there and I slept well in my zero-degree sleeping bag … until the door opened at 7 a.m. and Challis leaped on top of me, licking my face as one of the roommates looked down on me, startled.

When my eyes opened on Friday morning they stared at the ceiling. Cracks ran between recessed lighting fixtures like connect-the-dots. The walls were yellow with elaborate Victorian-style trim. Two dart boards with darts in them lay face-up next to the sofa bed. Other toys in the room ranged from a big-screen TV and a splintered pool table with a broken triangle to a parawing spread across the floor. As I got up and walked through the house, all the items suggested lavish luxury and poverty at the same time.

Skis and snowboards lined hallways and climbing gear filled in the chinks. A queen-sized box spring leaned against the wall in the near-empty living room. Paintings and photos, some framed, some not, also leaned against the blank walls along the wood floor. A globe built into a stand sat beside a grand-looking fireplace and a pole with an American flag leaned next to it in the corner. I plopped onto one of the few pieces of furniture and contemplated the oddness.

The globe had an electric cord running out of the south pole. Presumably it was to illuminate the world, but the plug lay in a corner of dirt and dust like a dead rat tail. The model earth couldn’t even rotate properly and the stand was broken, so the luminance might be wasted even if there was an available outlet.

A house full of smart men ” engineers ” and yet everything was broken, including the cracked coffee mug in my hand. Perhaps the state of disrepair is what’s being preserved there, but I feel like it’s something more.

As I sat in the dog-scented chair, some beautiful notes broke the silence ” guitar cords. I thought it was a stereo at first. Then I heard singing and realized John was in a room down the hall. It had been years since I last heard his music and had almost forgotten he played. Flashbacks of smiles, laughs and college days charged to the front of my mind. I felt old and young all at once.

John used to play punk rock. I’m sure he still does but at that moment I could discern an added maturity to his playing and musical taste. Maybe that’s what made me feel old, but it did me good to listen and consider the distance I’ve come while he played on, unaware of anyone’s presence.

I’m still unemployed and desperate for money as I continue my rambling road trip, now in search of any job I can get. There are moments of shaking, tearful uncertainty, and I sometimes regret so many things I’ve done. But that is the untouchable past. Hearing my old friend’s strings decorate the empty mansion with cascading twangs carried me to that present moment. I suddenly felt lucky to be right where I was.

Everything else might be broken, but there’s always hope where there’s an appreciation of life. Maybe that’s what “The Preserve” is all about.

Derek Franz noticed a sign in Salt Lake City advertising a “karaoke strip club” and is also wondering what that is about. He can be reached at

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