Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Re: Your Open House

So this is not going to be a very good metaphor, but it is a decent metaphor from my standpoint anyway. It combines two concepts, each of which I encountered in different places. But anyway.

We live in the same neighbourhood. For as long as our families have lived in this neighbourhood, your family generally is very... protective of the big house, the larger garden, the fruit tree. We regularly regale each other with stories of how the patriarch of your house would shoot people who got too close that he didn't invite or just plain didn't like. The shotgun the patriarchs have used through time sits grandly above the mantle opposite the front door for easy reach.

But now, you are having an open house. You are inviting as many people from our neighbourhood as possible to just come in, to the beer garden you've set up. To show your good faith, you leave the front door wide open so anybody can just come in.

I must admit, you are not a good host, because when we come to the door, you don't even notice us because you're busy regaling your guests who are already there. Guests who, may I add, have historically been to your house in the past, whether invited or not.

And when you see us, you don't bother to come out to greet us. You wave to us, merrily, expecting us to just come in and make ourselves comfortable.

You do not realize that the mantle is in direct view from where we stand, looking into your house through the open front door. The mantle, and the shotgun.

Some of us get the gumption to just go in. It's just a shotgun. This is not a Chekovian story, where the shotgun on the wall must be shot by the end of the story. This is not a story, this is real life. Some of us enter trusting that real life prevails, and things do not end like in the stories we have heard, trusting that you will not suddenly realize just how much you dislike us, and get your gun.

So we settle in and things are fine, until you break out the paintball guns. Just to have fun, you say, it's a family tradition! And since it is your house, we nod nervously, and try to have fun.

But it hurts when a paintball hits us, not only because paintballs are pretty fucking nasty to start with for those of us unused to them (and unprepared for them!), but because we are scared at some point you might break out the real gun, and each bruise is a reminder of each bullet your ancestors have put into ours.

So when the open house is over, and you're enthusiastically saying, "wasn't that fun!?" we demur and nod and smile and walk away.

Out of the few of us who went in, fewer still go back to the next open house you have, and you get indignant and feel snubbed for all the hard work you put in! You didn't have to have the open house, and you didn't have to invite everybody and anybody, and you certainly could've used that massive space for fewer people and a better paintball game! The few of us who return are split: those of us who agree, and those of us who try to point out you're a shitty host, the latter of which you accuse of bad manners.

So, 'scuse us when we feel like having our own party. I'd say it's nothing personal, but unfortunately, it is, big-time.

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