Open The Door and Let 'Em In
Early in their developmental milestones, children often have a fascination with keys.
Perhaps they enjoy the jingle jangle sound they make. Or maybe it's the fact that they are shiny and bright. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because they are the right amount of chunky to fit perfectly into a curious toddler's mouth.
As we get older though, keys continue take on a different importance. As a teenager we might need a key or combination to get into our locker in high school. Another rite of passage is when we get the all important driving license. In both instances, keys symbolize freedom- something kids this age crave so badly.
But no matter what our age, keys are something we guard. For instance, we don't give just anyone the key to our homes. I mean, maybe you do. But I certainly don't. We also don't give just anyone a key to our hearts. Of course there is no literal key to someone's heart, but the metaphor, I believe, speaks for itself.
So why, I ask, are keys "to the city" given out as freely as one night stands with Paris Hilton?!
No matter what "reality" show I watch lately, some sort've celebrity somewhere is mentioning being honored with the key to the city. It happens every year with the final three on American Idol who also, by the way, get a day in their city in honor of them. Meanwhile there are past presidents and inventors who never rated getting put on any sort of currency.
Then the other day on Kathy Griffin's show she was in Louisville, Kentucky where, you guessed it, SHE got the key to the city. A whole 10 people showed up. But that's not really the point. At least with the American Idol crew they are getting honored by their own hometowns. But Kathy Griffin?! She is about as much a Kentucky girl as Angelina Jolie is sane.
I want to know, whatever happened to good things come in small packages? Gone are the days where a nice gift bag or certificate were enough. Now keys to the city are downright passe.
Not to mention (although I know, I'm mentioning anyway) there's the problem of what a key to the city really means. If what Frank Sinatra once said is true, New York City never sleeps. So you can LoJack that place all you want. A key might say hi honey I'm home, but in New York, plenty of people have
Plus how many keys are there out there, ripe for the taking? If Kathy Griffin got one in Louisville, does that mean she holds the master and if so, can she make copies? Can she give a copy of the key now to other comics like Ellen DeGeneres, and God help us, Jon Lovitz?! Where is the glorified mat to put these things under when you need one! Not just anyone should be able to come in and make a mess of the carpet!
I guess these people receiving these keys should be honored, but I'm still skeptical. Personally I'd rather have free drinks every time I went to visit or a free sandwich after ten purchased sandwiches. At least with this gift the city is guaranteeing my return. And suddenly, both parties are happy.
But if all else fails give someone the key to something... nothing else says we appreciate you with the same amount of ambivalence or impracticality.