Saturday, January 10, 2009


Doors are convenient things to have around the house. You might never realize just how important they actually are until you stop to think how far you would get without them. Of course, a window might serve the purpose just as well, but not if you're on third floor.

Our ancestors didn't have doors. They just lumbered into their smoky caves, thumped their hairy chests, and grunted hello to the folks. How do you suppose they explained the matter of a black eye?

But to return to the door -- and people often do unless they are guests -- there is something definitely attractive about it. There must be, judging by the way students sit in class and gaze longingly at it. One attractive feature common to doors is the keyhole, through which, if one has an inquiring mind and a pliable backbone, may be gleaned many facts of interest.

All doors look very much alike at first glance, but they have personalities as varied as those of the odd creatures who walk through them. There is, for example, the complaining, dissatisfied Frustrated Door. It never moves without a groan or shriek proclaiming its sour outlook on life. It probably isn't much fun being a door, but the least it could do would be to accept its fate cheerfully, and keep its hinges quiet.

There is another type that can only be classified as the Deliberately Malicious Door. It never creaks or moans. It stands demurely silent for days, until it catches you with your back turned, engaged in some activity such as sneaking a hurried glance at the contents of a letter not addressed to you. Just at the right psychological moment, that door slams shut, inspiring its victim to do a fair impersonation of a nervous bowl of jello. Then it stands there maddeningly deadpan, but if you look carefully, you are almost certain to see a smirk around the transom.

Then there is the type of door that is unexcelled in the perpetration of mischief. This is the Bathroom Door. Noah Webster says that the door is "a movable frame providing access to a room", but he couldn't be speaking of the one that always stands between you and the bathroom. There is nothing movable about that one. It generally behaves quite well from six o'clock in the morning until about ten at night, but at any other time it's practically impossible to open without the aid of a good strong axe. This door stands glowering hatefully in the dark, waiting. At the first sound of sleepy footsteps in the hall, it digs in its toes, and prepares for a long siege. It isn't even above switching its knob to the wrong side, just for the sake of confusion. After making its poor victim tug and bang until the entire household is awake, it suddenly releases its grip and smashes the first thing in reach, which is usually a nose.

A first cousin of this type is the Stage Door. It is generally located on the set of a student production of some stirring drama. During weeks of practice, this door behaves like a heavenly portal, but just let the big night come! The heroine repeats the cue line for the hero's entrance until her wig slips down over her eyes, while Stage Door heaves violently from the struggle going on backstage to open it. Just as the red-faced heroine gives up and rushes into the wings, the door releases itself and crashes to the stage, bringing half the back-drop with it, and leaving a mortified hero to face the snickers from the audience.

There is also a Helpful Door. This type is found on the right front side of buses. It only helps those who are laden with packages and are having difficulty getting them all on the bus. Something about the plight of such a one arouses the chivalry beneath the cold metal exterior of Door, and as soon as the person gets one foot inside, it gives a gentle, helpful push, sending him sprawling beneath the driver's feet. If the person is an ungrateful sort, he may think some rather harsh thoughts as he collects his scattered belongings out of the laps of fellow passengers, but he got inside didn't he?

In spite of all their meanness and mule-headed stubborness, however, doors are very necessary. Man couldn't exist without them. What better way is there to release anger than by slamming doors? Where else would one hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign before retiring? What better way is there to escape a visit from your mother-in-law than to lock the front door and scram out the back one? How would the hall closet hold all that accumulation of junk without a door to prop shut against it?

No doubt about it doors are here to stay, and we may as well learn to live with them in comparative peace. We might even try being nice to them. If they ever decided to take over and run things their way, we wouldn't have much chance. They could all develop spring latches, and mankind would perish from pneumonia caused by living in a constant draft.

Do you feel a cold wind stealing around your ankles, or is it just my imagination?

From the Spring 1951 Baylorian.


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