Monday, July 21, 2008

Born in a Barn

When I was young, I did a lot of the sort of things that kids do when they are not yet shackled with the myriad of details and concerns of adult life. I think that life lasted for me until about the age of 12 when my self-absorbed obliviousness ended and I caught on to all the stuff my parents never for one second tried to hide from me about the harsh realities of life. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for making me feel old before I was legally old enough to vote.

Before I was consumed by a life of responsibility and worry, I'd blithely do things like leave the door open or stand in the doorway in the dead of winter allowing the frosty bitterness inside and the precious, precious heat outside. Invariably, as I stood there, my mother or father would shout, "close the damn door, were you born in a barn!" This puzzling, but multi-purpose, statement could apply to allowing the cold in in winter or allowing bugs in in the summer. Had I been older, and less fearful of punishment, I'd have retorted with, "you know I was not born in a barn because you're the one who gave birth to me."

Now that I'm older and more attentive to things like bugs and allowing precious air of the desired temperature to escape, I can empathize better with my parents concerns. In particular, the issue of allowing insects in is an issue for me because I have about 10 or so people coming to my apartment for private lessons every week. Invariably, several of them will just stand in the door allowing it to hang open behind them. No matter how many times I say, "please, come in," they stand there. If I make the mistake of saying anything like, "how are you" or "it's hot, isn't it," they will stand there holding the door ajar while addressing my polite smalltalk as if it somehow helps them speak.

Just outside of my front door, my landlords (who are also my neighbors) maintain a small garden of nondescript foliage. The whole thing is dark and relatively unimpressive. It looks like someone threw seeds around in a random fashion and cultivated what happened to grow. It'd be a nice plot of nature in the concrete jungle if it weren't for the fact that it's a haven for bugs. When the students come in, this heavily infested garden is lurking right behind them and the door being held open is an invitation for insects to come into the apartment. In fact, mosquitoes so love to raise families in there that students who stand at the door for a very short time waiting for me to answer will be bitten as they wait. Of course, once the mosquitoes have snacked on succulent student flesh outside, they come inside and have my husband or I for dessert.

I've even gone out of my way to talk about the situation with the students who have been holding the door open. As we sit in the lesson and a bug flies around distracting us or if I see a student intently scratching (it's always a mosquito bite), I mention the fact that there are lots of insects in the neighbor's garden and when the student comes in and holds the door open, bugs fly in with them. I do this to no avail. Even when I make it clear that their behavior is what is letting insects in, they still hang in the doorway with the door open. I'm guessing they do it unconsciously.

Maybe I should start saying, "were you born in a barn?" when they do this. It probably won't work any better for them than it did for my mother, but I think it's supposed to ease my frustrations.


Helen said...

I have to say I ask my husband "Were you born in a barn?" all the time! When he picks me up at my school at night he waits outside the door for me, with it wide open. All the bugs fly in because there's light inside. Admittedly, the genkan is small, but close the door already!

My students do it too a little, but my husband is the one that actually bothers me when he does it. He's learning though. He often tells me he's there and then goes back outside and closes the door.

Orchid64 said...

I guess one of the drawbacks to shoe removal is that it is too big a hassle to casually step in and close the door behind you if the entryway is so small. Still, I can't believe it's so tiny that your husband (who doesn't look like an enormous person) couldn't step in, close the door, and stand there in the genkan.

Thanks for commenting. :-)