Robert Frost, Yankee Doodle and an open door policy
I recently acquired a door, and this has made all the difference.
Let me clarify: By acquiring the door, I don’t mean I purchased it. I might indeed be paying for now having a door … but only in the figurative sense.
And our home has always had doors — a front door, a garage door, a sliding-glass door to the back, three closet doors, a pantry door, doors to the laundry room and the guest bath, plus not only a door from the primary bedroom to the ensuite (pardon my French), but a door between the closet space and the bathroom … then another door between the sinks and the water closet (pardon my 19th century English).
It's possible that if I should awake in the middle of the night to do what folks of a certain age awaken for in the middle of the night, I could walk face-first into three doors before reaching my destination.
I don’t know about you … but, to me, the last thing on my List of Things I Didn’t Know I Needed But Am Glad to Have Received is yet another door.
You know things like a driver’s side seat warmer, or the return of Trefoils … or, in this debilitating news cycle, the Golf Channel.
Now that I mention it, the cookies also help me get through the news cycle.
The new door in question shuts me off from the hustle and bustle of the newsroom. It is, if truth be told, the first time in more than four decades in the newspaper business that I’m sitting at a workspace that can be closed off by a door — unless you count that time when I was relegated to combing the archives in the morgue of a Florida paper … but the less said about that, the better.
It's certainly quieter sitting in this office with the door closed; voices are doubly muffled (already suffering in clarity behind masks). The only constant sound is of downtown traffic coming through the window to the outside world.
It’s my first window, too.
I hadn’t given the door much thought, in fact, until I came into this room to begin writing this particular piece.
The plan was to comment on the now-viral, pain-inducing stretch on a recent episode of “Wheel of Fortune” in which three contestants failed to solve the following phrase:
One contestant, who seemed to know the answer, hit Bankrupt and Lose A Turn.
A second contestant tried to add a D, then a G, to the puzzle before hitting Bankrupt.
And the third contestant fell victim to the pressure of the moment — guessing “Another feather in your hat,” “Another feather in your lap,” and (after adding a P to the puzzle) “Another feather in your map,” before the first contestant finally ended the torture.
After that episode taped, I hope Pat and Vanna headed to the bar for a stiff drink … which brought to mind the classic Dennis Miller comment about the relationship between “Wheel” and “Jeopardy!”
“There’s a reason ‘Wheel of Fortune’ is on right after ‘Jeopardy!’” Miller said. “Once you’ve been forced to choke down the foul-tasting tequilla shot of your own abject ignorance, it’s always nice to be able to bite into the refreshing lime wedge of other people’s incredible stupidity.”
You really have to see the Hat/Lap/Map/Cap video to believe it … which is what hit me when I closed the office door behind me to sit down and try to put the experience of seeing the drama play out into words.
As if that were possible.
So, there I was, hand still on the interior door handle, realizing that the best laid plans of m--- and m-- (wait, wait, don’t tell me) often go … well, somewhere from which they’ll never return.
It was then I wondered why I had shut the door. Because it was there? It wasn’t a particularly noisy afternoon and yet, now possessing the power to close myself off to the newsroom, I had chosen to exercise it.
Good doors make good co-workers, Robert Frost once wrote … or he might have had he been presented with such a moral obligation to ponder a similar quandary.
For a few years back in Massachusetts, I toiled away in a newspaper office that had been created on the first floor of a boarding house where Frost once resided during his years as a college professor.
It wasn’t a particularly heady experience but, I was going to say when truth broke in, that the decision to leave a door open or closed — whether to an office or water closet — can leave you as stumped as a game show contestant grasping for an answer.
One could do worse than be a swinger of hinges.
Robert Galvin is the acting editor of the Mail Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org