Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dire Responsibility of Skeleton Keys

Pitch the key fob (even the word “fob” sounds dorky), car dealer doo-dad, or Italian-leather key wallet. Dumpster-donate the maintenance-man, 18-inch-long key chain secured to your belt loop. All you need is a simple skeleton key on a simple key ring, along with your half-dozen essential keys. A skeleton key adds a sense of mystery, a touch of luck, and a grounded link to the past. You need it because it’s cool and because most people don’t have one. Now, when someone asks about it, you have the unbreakable, sacred obligation to respond correctly. Being flip and saying something like “Oh, it’s just a stupid old key I found at a yard sale” is not correct. In fact, it’s dead wrong—even if you did find it at a yard sale or on eBay or at a thrift shop. You must honor the skeleton key. Its first and primary use was to open something that had restricted access—a door, a cabinet, a chest. With that appreciation, you are better off creating a sense of secrecy, importance, and mystery befitting the key. It is far better to respond to the “what’s with that key” question with a bit more drama. You may want to act nervous with a couple of furtive glances to see who else may have heard the question. Stumble out your response (if you’re a stutterer, you’re lucky) which should be something like: “Oh…um…. you’re asking about THE key? It… it’s really NOTHING.” Note: It’s important to pronounce THE and NOTHING with enough emphasis to imply a universe of possibility. When the follow up questions come, and they will, you need to act little more nervous but regain composure quickly and say “It’s just a key I have, no big deal.” Then, abruptly excuse yourself to leave, use the washroom, or return an important phone call.

It’s also important for you to know the correct anatomy of a skeleton key (or passkey), because this adds depth to your mysterious ownership of the key. Skeleton keys consist of a bow (the part you turn), a handle, and a combination (the part inserted in the lock). Use the correct terms, always.

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