When I was a child, spending the occasional weekend in my father’s house — the house I now inhabit — I noticed the ancient soap-on-a rope that hung from the shower head. I believe it’s of the Old Spice variety. Yep, it sure is, I just checked. It’s severely cracked and faded by now, but you can still read the Old Spice inscription and see the artistic rendering of a clipper ship on the front side. The rope in question is a thick, twisted length of pseudo-hemp in the shape of a loop. I can’t believe it hasn’t dissolved already, after all these years of hanging under the showerhead, and living in the already damp and humid climate of Cape Cod.
I decided long ago that this soap/rope/showerhead configuration was somehow mystically responsible for holding the house up. Like a baseball player, I am intensely, strangely superstitious. Ladders cause to me pause not a moment as I saunter under them, broken mirrors just mean another trip to the dump, and black cats are pretty awesome. But never will I remove the Old Spice Soap-on-a-Rope that hangs in my father’s house — no sooner than I would stop watching an important ballgame in the eighth inning.
Who knows what catastrophe awaits? The removal of that linchpin could have repercussions that would haunt generations to come.
But today, I saw something I had never seen before. Halfway up the supporting beam in the livingroom, in the center of the house, there is a VERY large nail, driven about halfway in. How did I never see this before? And have I been wrong all this time about the linchpin, the keystone, the center that must hold?
What if it’s actually that sublimely centrally-located nail that’s holding it all together, and the Soap-on-a-Rope is a mere red herring? Without courting disaster, there’s no way to scientifically test either theory.
I shall just have to maintain vigilance that both remain undisturbed.
Although, sentimentally at least, my money is on the soap.