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Doorknobs and if they went missing

By Sarah PenneyPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
Photo by eelias on Unsplash

Surface smooth, or maybe not, made of metal, or maybe not, it opens to a whole new world or just another room, if it opens at all. It might be locked. It might be not. It might be broken but truly, if it were broken, it wouldn’t be doing its job very well and then what would be the point of it?

Imagine a doorknob.

Every day, day in and day out, a doorknob is grasped and fondled and scratched and turned until by the end of its lifetime (if it isn’t replaced for a premature death), the metal takes on the impression of the hands that touch it. It’s rubbed raw and covered in bacteria and subject to a whole host of hands. Dirty hands, clean hands, young hands, old hands, hands, hands, hands, hands, hands. Sometimes even feet if the doorknob is more like a latch and the owner is more like a gymnast. If the room it's in has ever had a child, it may have witnessed the questionable glory of tiny teeth clattering on it and spit drenching its surface.

You know those clay molds that children put their hands and feet in to remind their parents they used to be small? Doorknobs, well made ones, would take a lifetime but they’d become the same. If you used a doorknob every day of your life, it would eventually love your hand so much as to become the perfect mold to hold it.

I saw a photo last weekend of a doorknob in a monastery. Falling apart and deformed, its surface gleamed and tarnished from years of human touch. It’s a little bit like people, in that way.

It’s a pity that it’s at this point that most doorknobs are replaced. It’s funny because a doorknob isn’t wanted for itself– it’s wanted for the places the door it’s in separates.

Recently-- if two years can be recent-- most doorknobs have been subject to an unholy drowning. They’re covered in disinfectant and gloves, on the off chance it might be diseased.

Doorknobs, contrary to apparent popular belief, cannot get sick. But the child gumming it could.

It’s funny that the most loved objects happen to be the most often ignored ones. To clarify, by “loved” I do not most nearly mean “cuddled” or most “cherished” but rather most “used,” most “necessary,” most “immediately missed if it were to go missing.” To view love in this manner is probably a little harsh, but it’s not entirely inaccurate. Our most loved things are our most used.

I could’ve made you imagine a toilet seat, or a faucet handle, or maybe even the top drawer of your bedroom dresser. But doorknobs– doorknobs, despite never holding frilly lace things or having an ass grace its face, are perhaps the most forgotten of them all.

I know a doorknob maker. He is an older gentleman. He makes cutting boards and dresser drawers and doors and sometimes he even cobbles shoes. It is a cobbled together life of homemade items that are used more or less everyday and not often remembered unless they are forgotten. I do not know him well although I hear of him in the same way most have heard of hermits that live on mountains or trolls under bridges.

He is not a troll and I do not think he is a hermit. He’s married, although I suppose even hermits can have wives.

His home sits on a hill above a bog that turns to fog on wet days and warm days and bright days and cold days and when I drive by his home, which I do everyday, the lamppost at the end of his driveway lights the way like the most stubborn of lighthouses.

The doorknob maker is an island unto himself. I wonder if he minds that the things he loves so well as to make are forgotten until they need to be replaced.

If a doorknob maker replaces doorknobs when they’ve run their course, who replaces him?

My father recently bought a doorknob from Amazon. It was made in China. So I guess the answer is Amazon.

It’s not a great answer.


About the Creator

Sarah Penney

Writer, graphics designer, and adventure-haver. I focus on slice of life anecdotes, travel pieces, and the occasional deep dives into science, film, books, and anything else that catches my fancy. ME and DC.

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