A Man’s Home
by Jake Block
“A man’s home is his castle.”
— Proverbial Expression
You come home, weary, from a hard day’s work, slip your key in the lock, open your door and step inside. That thin, two inch door offers sanctuary and a bit of autonomy that scarcely exists on the other side. Out there it’s hot and sweaty and your muscles ache from laboring for someone else’s business, enriching their enterprises, so that you receive a small portion of their profits for being one of those who work for “the man,” who is usually working for “another man,” working for another… and another… and another.
But here, is “HOME.” Here is cool and calm and your favorite music, your favorite drink, favorite foods and, if you’re lucky and in love, your favorite romantic mate is there to share your time in the relative tranquility of this box. But it’s YOUR box, and while it might be like many others, it’s YOURS. Your castle, one of many, each with its own king and queen, and each with its own rules to maintain the harmony of the domain.
“Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.”
— Tiny Boxes (Malvina Reynolds – 1962)
So, for 16 hours of every day, every man is a king and every woman is a queen, at least in their ticky tacky box on their ticky tacky hillside. Millions of boxes on millions of hillsides in millions of towns. And inside each, the kings and queens make the rules and live in relative harmony with those of their ticky tacky fiefdoms. It’s a good system and it works, so long as everyone realizes that their rules are THEIR rules, and apply only to the fiefdom under their control. The other kings and queens don’t really care what goes on in the fiefdom of another… or shouldn’t… so long as they are left alone during their sixteen hours of sovereignty.
Now, every so often, these kings and queens must sally forth into their domains, ticky tacky little domains behind white picket fences, with all manner of personal amusements from exotic pink flamingos from the land of The Plastics, to private pools of cool comfort in which to swim, to lawns of grass and trees… each can be different; many are the same. But the rules of the fiefdom extend even here, protected and enforced behind the ticky tacky fences, to the ticky tacky yards, to the ticky tacky boxes in which they live. Here they control. Here they relax. Here is home. Here they will defend.
The problem comes when the king or queen in the next ticky tacky fiefdom view the ticky tacky of another with jealous or disapproving eyes, forgetting that their laws and influence end where their ticky tacky fence butts up against the ticky tacky fence of another. So, they demand the king in the adjacent fiefdom obey THEIR rules over those under which they rule, to which the offended king or queen responds, “The hell you say,” and immediately their ticky tacky fance becomes a towering, turreted wall of stone and steel.
Soon the sanctity of the surrounding fiefdoms is disrupted as well, as neighbors begin to draw lines and make demands in support of one another over the usurping fiefdom and their supporters. Within a short time, neighbor is set upon neighbor. and even those not involved in the situation are forced to live with the stress of those who, quite simply, can’t just learn to mind their own business and let others do the same.
It’s a story that plays out every day in real life and endless times on the internet, when people who should know better act like children and ruin things for whole communities. They defend it by childishly claiming that they are just speaking their mind, but doing it not to the person they disagree with, but to a disrupted community (or web site) that can do little more than shake their heads and whisper, “Here we go again.”
There is a time when most just simply grow up and find that it’s easier and less problematic to live in a binary world, where one either lives and lets live or cuts the problem people in their life off 100%. I can’t tell you the number of times that people have come to me with the same old tale… “Joe’s an asshole, and he really causes problems in the neighborhood, but let’s give him another… and another… and another chance.” I always have to fight back a grin when, chanceless at last, Joe finally reaches the end of his rope with his last supporter, because then we have another binary choice in the inevitable cries of , “We should have listened to you, Jake,” or “I sure wish someone had warned us about Joe long ago.” The best I can do is smile and nod as another gray hair finds its place on my head.
The Orders of The Sect of the Horned God