Sunday, July 27, 2008

Key to the Castle

The security in our building is serious business. There is a digicode for the wooden door to the street, another digicode for the door into the building from the courtyard, and then a couple of high-tech keys for both the front and rear doors. You're supposed to double lock the front door when you come in and out because otherwise one of Paris's notorious cat thieving gangs can supposedly pop the lock in 9 seconds flat and clear out your place in not much longer than that.

But the key I like best is the one pictured here, a throwback to the technology in place when the building was erected at the turn of the century. It's about six inches long and packs a heft. I like to think of it as the key to our castle while in truth, it's just the key to the cave, a romantic term for the dirt floor storage space in the basement, that's divided by crude wooden doors (each with its own stenciled number) into multiple units. It's not creepy enough to be a dungeon. If anything, it reminds me of the place where those American GIs used to hang out on Hogan's Heroes. Still, you can't carry the key without imagining a more elegant past when the walls were lined with dusty crates of fine vintages.

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