Key on a Stick


This looks like one of those bathroom keys you get at those dingy little gas stations you find on the side of the road when you’re 52 miles from the nearest public restroom and desperate to the point you take that key against your better judgement. You know, you go in and peer around hopefully for anything that looks remotely like a bathroom, even if it doubles as a broom closet and is stacked to the ceiling with dented crates of Styrofoam coffee cups- which is what got you in this predicament in the first place.

But once in the gas station you soon realize the dubious door around back is the bathroom just like you figured, and the guy behind the counter hands you this key on a tree branch that looks suspiciously like the paddle your elementary school principal used to wave around as if he were a pinch hitter with the bases loaded.

Really, who is going to steal a bathroom key in the first place?

But no. This is the key to the doctor’s lounge at the local hospital. I mean, what about the fact these doctors went to Ivy League schools and spent large fortunes and their entire young adult life learning the rigorous scientific healing arts and now spend countless hours trying to keep your body running in spite of the fact you do about everything you can to assure them it is not.

And you’re afraid the doctors are going to steal the “Dr’s Lounge Key”?

Doctors Lounge. The mere thought of a doctor’s lounge conjures images of mahogany book cases stacked to the ceiling filled with tomes of thick hardback books with stately names such as The Periodic Annals of Annual Evaluations regarding Anal Evacuation Techniques in the Subpopulation of Eastern Ecuadorian Pygmy Patients with Marfan’s Syndrome. I am here to tell you that book does not exist in the doctors lounge to which the key tied to a 2X4 opens the door. But I did find a crossword puzzle book of which I triumphantly knew the answer for the clue to 9 Across; Best Exam? I wrote Testicular Mammography. In ink. I ran out of squares but when you’re holding a key on a cudgel you feel that kind of power.  

There is something in a person that draws them to a timber tied key. I studied that key today and admit as soon as I saw it I had this urge to palm it right into the pocket of my lab coat; the pocket large enough to hold my iPad, iPhone, iPatch, and iMiniCooper. Yes, I wanted that key. I imagined walking down the hall and passing it off to one of my colleagues like we belonged to a secret key holding society.

What do you think they do with that thing anyway? Offer it to each other in the hall like a baton in a relay race? Hand it off stealthily like they’re engaging in a drug transaction? Page each other and ask, “Hey man you got the key? I’m jonesing for some barbeque Fritos”. Because trust me, there is never any barbeque Fritos in that doctors lounge.

Yes, I picked up that key holder. I just had to feel that thing in my hand and I am here to say this is not some ordinary key holder.  It is not some wimpy little dangling pendulum with a smiley face or a clever saying such as my other car is a southeast Alpine woolly speckled three toed high spitting Himalayan llama.  No, this key holder has weight. This key holder has mass. This key holder makes you feel like you’re clutching a nunchuck.

I studied that thing, thinking how many years it must have took to wear the edges smooth. I ran my fingers across the crude calligraphy that was obviously laboriously penned by someone hell bent on making sure everyone knew where that key belonged. I swear I could still smell a hint of the pungent magic marker from how many years ago. It’s hard to explain but there was something that took me back to my childhood as I felt the resistance of the chain pulling through the wooden hole while I tried to pry apart the connector link and, I admit, I resisted the urge to pull out a pocket knife and carve my initials in the corner. Instead I turned it over and appreciated the fact someone actually hand-made that doctors lounge key holder.

It was solid.

I understood. There is something appealing about a restrained key. Something mysterious as if the key holds the key to something worthy, something out of reach, something you want. It  makes you crave to be a part of that elite lab coat wearing exclusive fraternity that gets to carry around important keys on billy clubs that open doors to mysterious rooms filled with musty books, day old sausage biscuits, coffee, trail mix, browning bananas, and scattered crumbs that suspiciously resemble the remains of barbeque Fritos.  

And yet … it is a key tied to a piece of wood. Somehow that cheapens the whole deal. Makes it seem like a key to a gym locker. Or a janitor’s closet. Or a stale convenience store on the side of the interstate with a fake Styrofoam tiger guarding the bathroom door. And that’s why it was laying around today, in a doctor’s lounge no less. Unguarded.

No one is going to steal a key on a stick.

5 thoughts on “Key on a Stick

  1. Excellent start, Judy! I’m excited for you to be on WP. Despite the fact that you are here to write and to share, you will find so much more. Friendships, companions, ideas, and inspiration.
    I’ve now met 11 of my blogger friends who live as close as DC and as far away as New Zealand. It’s a completely unexpected side of blogging.
    However, you are here, I imagine to share your excellent storytelling, and I am glad for that!

    Liked by 1 person

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