Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dem Bones


I’m thinking about skeletons. Everywhere I go this time of year, I’m accosted by the images of skeletons. I see them on front doors, coffee mugs, and tee shirts. I see them dancing on my television screen inviting me to shop for furniture with prices that are “spooktacular”. And I have even spied that creepy figure in my neighbor’s front yard, just patiently waiting for Halloween night to scare a trick-or-treater with its battery-operated moaning. But that isn’t the kind of skeleton I have on my mind. I’m interested in the skeleton you are keeping at your house. You know, the one you have hidden in the back of your closet, banished from ever seeing the light of day.

We are all harboring a dirty, little secret, although granted, there are varying degrees of naughtiness. Underneath the façade of the beautiful house, beautiful family, perfect job and perfect life, you will always find some little detail, an unattractive piece of your history that was shoved to the back of the closet and then covered hastily with battered, old galoshes and your high school yearbooks. No one will ever think to look there, so close the door quickly before it gets out.

Maybe it’s just the jaded cynic in me that can’t comprehend a life where everything goes exactly as planned. The Homecoming Queen marries the Football Star, and they produce a gorgeous son and daughter who excel both at academics and sports. They have an impressive home and are surrounded by a bevy of well-connected friends who are more than happy to accompany them to wine tastings and trips to their stellar beach home. No life can be that perfect. I am imagining (secretly hoping, really) that the Football Star is suffering from erectile dysfunction, which causes the Homecoming Queen to engage in a sordid, lusty affair with the nineteen-year-old neighbor two houses down. In my sick, twisted world, the gorgeous son would be a pothead who frequently skips class, and the pretty daughter would be hiding the fact that she’s a lesbian and is sleeping with her softball coach. Now that’s more like it.

I will be the first to admit that I have an entire posse of old bones rattling in my closet. At first, I stood with my back against the door, digging in my heels with all my might to keep those skeletons at bay, my reputation at stake, no less. Now, I just sit back with a glass of wine, reacquaint myself with the ghosts of my past, and let them know they are free to go if they so choose. Some of those skeletons have retreated to the safety of the closet floor for now, while others have run amok, doing their best to bring me shame, but without success. These crafty skeletons couldn’t have possibly known that by virtue of being released, simply put out there for the world to see, they were no longer a threat to me. They lost their power, and I am free.

Your skeletons will escape sooner or later. Sometimes, you mistakenly leave the door ajar, giving them an open invitation to walk out under your nose, and sometimes, they pry their boney fingers into the lock and slip away on their own. But know for sure that if you aren’t in charge of their exodus, you will certainly one day feel a cold tap on your shoulder only to turn around and look into the empty, black eyes of a secret you thought was long ago dead and buried.

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