Open Door Policy

…As I told you, the door to my office is always open. I think you know why it’s always open – that was stolen, I’d like that returned.

Bob Newhart, Captain’s remarks from “The Cruise of the U.S.S. Codfish,” The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart (1960)

Dearest Rachel –

I used to think that ours wasn’t the most private of families when I was growing up. My folks would leave their door open at night, because they specified I could not get up before six o’clock. So, that hour would often find me standing at the door of my bedroom, watching their alarm as it turned over to the appointed time, allowing me to hurry off to the family room, and drop myself into the rocking chair until Mom showed up in the kitchen to prepare breakfast.

But then I met your family. Your parents had an open door policy that was, to say the least, disconcerting. Bathroom doors were never locked, and rarely even closed. This led to awkward moments back when I would visit during those summer holidays before we were married, when I would walk in on either one of your parents, and they would be wearing next to nothing as they were making their preparations for bedtime.

All you could do was smile weakly at me, shrug and say, “Welcome to the family, Randy.” At which point I should have taken that as proof that I had been accepted by them as your chosen paramour. It was still disconcerting.

To be fair, the architecture of your parents’ house had a layout where the bathroom was pretty much the center of activity. Getting from one side of the house to the other meant either going through there, or taking a rather circuitous route around it. And your folks were accustomed to it.

Of course, I hardly need to tell you that it was the center of your home, but here’s the floorplan – as drawn by your dad – to prove it.

Not so much myself.

It took a lot of getting used to, but once I had, it sort of carried over into our own lives. Of course, our first year together was just the two of us, so what difference did that make? We’d seen each other in various states of undress as part of what married couples do, so there wasn’t any particularly big deal about it.

We carried this casual approach to privacy into our child-rearing, and while the layout of our current home doesn’t center around the bathrooms, Daniel is still as likely as not to leave the door open – although he will tend to close it when he hears me approaching.

On the other hand, I never quite learned to be as open as you were. I suppose I could excuse it by simply saying that when I was showering, I wanted to keep the warm air and steam inside the bathroom, and when I was sleeping, I wouldn’t want any light from the rest of the house to leak into the bedroom.

But I confess to never having the same level of openness, of ‘what you see is what you get,’ of ‘come on in, we’ve nothing to hide’ devil-may-care insouciance that permeated every fiber of your being.

I don’t know if I should regret that; there are certain things that shouldn’t be broadcast from the rooftops, after all. But that child like a lack of concern that you had about seemingly anything was something I wish I had.

The irony is, in talking to you about these sorts of things in front of the entire Internet, I guess I am in a way starting to develop that same lack of concern, and in a period of time where complete public exposure is particularly dangerous. Of course, I have no intention of running for public office, and fewer dreams every day of becoming a celebrity, so the idea of those things being held against me bothers me that much less all the time. I’ve said before how I can’t control what somebody else thinks of me, so I refused to worry about it.

So maybe this is my way of flinging open the doors I have closed between others and myself. I hope you’d be pleased with it.

Until next time, darling, take care of yourself, and keep an eye out for Daniel and I. Our love goes with you.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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