Monday, November 16, 2009

keyed up

The size of my bunch of keys would rival that of a gaoler. Why so many of them? There's a house key to Highland Park, somewhere in that tangle, and one to the Santa Fe house (the pink, semi-Western one in the foreground, cut at Mailboxes in Eldorado, and the only one of the lot that I can be guaranteed to identify in a hurry. This isn't much use in New Jersey, admittedly). There's a car key, or, to be exact, a sophisticated and microchipped piece of plastic. There are two keys to Union Street - one to the house itself, one to my office - a blessed retreat that I don't get to nearly enough. There may or may not be keys to my parents' house in London - I always think that, like my passport, I should have them close to me in case of emergency, but in point of fact I'm not sure where they are, and they are probably in Santa Fe. The grubby yellow plastic surround provides crucial ID to another key - that to the women's faculty/staff bathroom in Murray. Its green companion isn't attached to anything. Then there are a whole collection of keys that go along with chairing - one that lets me into my office, that was shiny and identifiable at the start of the semester, and now is dull and sulky. I wonder why? And there's a master key, and a supplementary master key, and another extra supplementary master key. I cannot imagine the circumstances under which I'm likely to use any of these, unless (o sigh) I want to get into the building on a Sunday or at Thanksgiving. I suppose they are rather like a mayorial chain, or a mace, or a velvet floppy hat - signs of office, but actually, they weigh me down clankingly.

And then there are the appendages - a rubbed spacy dome like object, that I bought at the Harold Edgerton museum in Nebraska, and that goes red and swirls around if one puts one's hot little fingers (or, I guess, other body parts) behind it, and then there's a long string of blue perspex cubes. You'd think, with all of this, that I would be able to find my keys when I need them. No. I was even driven, earlier this year, to buying (at inordinate cost) an electronic key-finder, that emitted a loud beep (rather like a fire alarm needing a new battery, c.f. the ceiling behind me) when one pressed the Finder button on a base unit. This was a great idea, in theory - until the alarm beep went off, unbidden, when I was driving through West Virginia. There seemed to be no way of silencing it, no way of tearing out its little battery - so in the end, I prised it off my key ring, hurled it (still beeping urgently) into a trash can, and accelerated away.

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