Same Key

Discombobulation is it?

You enjoy saying the word (especially the ‘bobule’ bit in the middle) but you don’t know what it means until you’re standing barefoot in the shagpile of a parallel universe, the smell of curried potatoes wafting though your nose.

I run up the stairs of my building, my daddy long legs assassinating three risers with each stride, thrust the key into my apartment door and blast into my familiar hallway. “I’m home!” I shout through the apartment into the tiny earholes of my oblivious goldfish. At last the weekend was here.

Absently, I abandon my keys atop of the bookcase by the door, kick off my shoes, shed my socks and dance into the living room where I find an alarmed Asian man in front of the television.

Many of you will that I do not own a television, favouring instead to fill my leisure time with books, sex and amateur taxidermy. The big three.

Many of you will remember that I don’t own an alarmed Asian man either.

Marge, Homer, Lisa, Bart and Maggie rush home each day to find someone out of place sitting on their sofa. I, however, am not used to this.

After a moment of discombobulation (there is is) I realise I am in the wrong apartment.

How could this happen?

I have entertained the possibility before. On several occasions I have been ready to thrust my key into the door of 801, only noticing at the last nanosecond that I’ve a further flight of stairs to ascend. I had never really thought I would end up on the other side of the wrong door though, shoes off and hollering to a goldfish who, in actuality, was a good three meters above my head.

They say a problem with city living is that you never get to know your neighbours. I know one of them now. I know that his name is Mr. Lee (or maybe just Lee), that he watches Eastenders, that he cooks curried potatoes and he has the same door key as I do.

Yes, it appears our keys will unlock each other’s doors. If I ever come home to discover “Bowie” before “Bolan” in the CD rack, I will know who is to blame.


That’s who.

I wonder briefly whether everyone in the building has the same key but this is too horrible to contemplate for long.

Worse yet, maybe everyone in the whole world has the same key. Ever tried your door key in someone else’s lock? Me neither. Until today. To me, there is more evidence in favour of all keys being identical than there is evidence for them being unique. It’s all a massive scam and we live under conditions of a false sense of security.

The inside of Lee’s apartment is practically identical to mine. Whoever kitted out the building must have bought the furniture in bulk. We have the same sofas, the same lampshades, the same carpet and (weirdly) the same opinions on woolen head gear (it may keep your head warm but it looks silly and messes up your hair).

Due to someone’s laziness, Lee and I find ourselves living in parallel universes to each other.

My apartment is slightly personalised. I have introduced some bookcases of my own, a goldfish bowl and, as a finishing touch, a ten-by-ten portrait of myself.

The absence of these things in Lee’s place is eerie. In the hope of rectifying this, I offer him a print of my giant portrait but the tasteless fool declines.

I shake hands with my downstairs Asian counterpart and complement him upon his doppelganger sofa and table lamps. It is a very cordial parting but, still worried that he may abuse the sameness of our keys, I leave him with this message:

“Maybe I’ll come and watch you sleeping one night!” and then I laugh slightly too much: “Ha! Ha! Ha!”

When leaving Lee’s apartment, the poor chap’s face is as white as a filleted cod.

Fear is a good way of keeping him out of my stuff but I’ll booby-trap my collection of lower-mammal taxidermy just in case.

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