The very words imply family, good friends, easy and trusted relationships, entry into the heart of the house. Why do we always lock the front door and leave the back door wide open? Do we really think that a serious burglar isn’t going to check out the back? That our neighbors will always be there to call 911? That the hiss of the scared-to-death cat will deter criminal activity?
Once was the time when every house had screened doors….all before air conditioning, of course. They were opened to get a breath of fresh air…usually after dusk. In would come the smells of flowers, the chatter of neighbors enjoying themselves outside, children playing and begging not to go to bed….just not quite yet.
I imagine that this old house has seen its fair share of lovely ladies and handsome men coming in those screened doors. It’s clear they’re on their way to a garden party on the lawn. The ladies are in their summer finery, floral dresses, white pumps, a sun hat to protect their delicate skin and even a few in white gloves,
The men are in their seersucker suits, bow ties and brightly polished white buck shoes. Perhaps one or two have cigars tucked in their pockets.
Awaiting them are ice cold gin and tonics and comfortable wicker chairs. Later there will be trays of chilled cucumber and watercress sandwiches, a crystal bowl of black olives and crisp celery sticks and straight-from the-oven flaky ham biscuits. It’s dusk and the men wander down to the river to have their own conversations.
The women have plenty to say among themselves. We can only imagine the things that are said with a promise not to repeat. But we know they will be repeated.
Isn’t it all so very grown up? If you look closely, you can almost see Zelda and F. Scott, himself.
Well, of course, things change. All things considered, I think it’s better today than the olden days of formality, don’t you? Life may be a bit more scrambled and demanding than it was then but if we take the time to listen to the sweet slap of the screen door or the gentle knock on the back door and know that a friend is coming in to visit, drop off a book, share a problem or just say hello….isn’t that better?