(I guess you could say it’s under door-ess. Ha)
Doors live a rather simple existence. They’re windows without the glass, walls without the rigidity, cloth flaps without the perennial fear of a desert beast bounding through them to devour their inhabitants. In fact, the only remarkable thing I knew about doors is that in Old Norse, the word for ‘door’ only exists as a plural noun, because all doors were the kind of grand, double-doors one would find at the entrances to mead-halls, and poorer dwellings would only have hurdles or curtains pulled over holes in the wall. But my door-themed small talk game was infinitely improved this week when our front door decided it had had enough of being a front door, and would very much like to be a wall instead.
The problem is that our door is fairly new, and is apparently not a very good fit for the frame that surrounds it. This wasn’t a problem when we moved in over summer, but as the temperature drops, the rain falls and the air becomes saturated with moisture the wooden door has absorbed some of that moisture, and has grown in size by a few imperceptible millimetres. The result is that the door is now permanently semi-wedged in its frame, and doesn’t really like opening, not without a Herculean latch-tugging effort every morning.
When me and my flatmates (technically one flatmate and their significant other but whatever) drag our arses up to the door for an Old English seminar held so early on a Tuesday morning that it might as well take place during the reign of King Alfred the Great, we are confronted by our door. First we reason with them, reminding them that they have lived as a door for all their lives, and seemed happy, and that if only they’d explain to us why this sudden change came about we could understand and accept them. We’d batter a hole in the wall and install a new door, letting the old one live fully as part of the wall, if only we knew more about this unexpected change. But we always hear nothing.
Then, we roll up our sleeves and begin an impromptu re-enactment of the classic Arthurian scene involving the removal of the sword from the stone; first the flatmate tries, failing because their strength stat is too low, then the significant other, failing too because they failed the agility roll, then me, succeeding because I’ve played this game before and have been relentlessly EV-training for weeks.
With the door opened, you’d expect this sorry narrative to smash into an abrupt conclusion; but I am not Chaucer, as my tale will have a satisfying conclusion. The other quirk about our door is that it has a hard lock; this is a particularly tough kind of lock, so strong that it can’t snap into place by itself, and requires the twisting of a key in its lock to shift the necessary tumblers, which sound like they weight about fifteen stone each. This means that when we leave in the morning, having rubbed our hands raw on the tiny latch trying to get the thing open, we then have to pull the door all the way back to its closed position, and fumble around with an awkward key-in-lock situation. And because we’re locking the door, we can’t just pull the door to and let it sit half-closed, bound in place by some hillbilly automatic lock; no, for this kind of impregnable security the door, which is too big for its frame remember, must be wedged back into its frame so we can operate the lock effectively. It’s worth pointing out that, like the latch on the inside, the outside is devoid of any handles or additions suited for moving the door back and forth; as a result, we play a game of ‘pull the door quickly then yank your hand back so your fingers don’t get caught in the door!’ every morning, and it’s already getting tedious.
The ultimate irony, of course, is that all these procedures and inconveniences are meant to make the door harder to force, and the house safer: heavy doors are harder to push if the lock isn’t fully opened, the hard lock exists to keep intruders out, and the lack of handles make the door difficult to operate unless you’re the inhabitants, and have gotten used to dealing with the bloody thing on a daily basis. But now, sometimes we don’t lock the door because it’s too much effort; we leave it pulled to, but not locked, because no-one can open it without a pneumatic drill and a week’s worth of anabolic steroids, and we can’t be bothered to dope up every evening in preparation. In making the door intruder-proof, the manufacturers have made it human-proof, unsuitable for use by breakers-in, tenants, and presumably the US Navy Seals.
So if you’re in the business of house-breaking, don’t try your luck at our place; you’ll just cut your hands on our stubborn, slightly splintered door.