Wednesday, May 27, 2009

S Is For Skeleton Key

Key Sera Sera

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

(All images shot at Mark's Service Depot, Southbank, Melbourne)



When I was very little, a friend of mine had an older brother called John (I’ve changed his name for obvious reasons) who was really handy with "useful" aspects of life. If you wanted to know which part of a radio did what, John knew the answer. If you wanted to know stuff about electricity, John knew the answer.

Then came the day he decided to push the boundaries a little but further than he should have. He reckoned he knew how to drive. That was a dangerous assumption, and it was also (as you’ll see) an erroneous assumption.

Back then, his father had a company car with manual transmission (stick shift, as they’re commonly called) and John reckoned it was fair game. He had watched it being driven and figured he had the accelerator-clutch-gear equation sorted out.


There were three problems. He was too young to drive. He had never actually been given permission to drive. And finally, he knew he would never be given permission to take the car keys.

So, being the handy teenager that he was, he decided to circumvent the last problem. He announced he was going to make a skeleton key. And make a skeleton key he did. I’m not sure how he did it, but it must have been an amazing feat because he didn’t exactly have access to a whole tool shed.

Then at dusk one evening his youngest brother and I heard a frightful impact. John had put the skeleton key in the ignition, started up the car but reversed it too far and slammed into broad steps. The steps, alas, were made of concrete and the back of the car now resembled a concertina.


John sprinted away from the scene and locked himself in the bathroom but his father didn’t take long to work out what had happened.

Fast forward many years …. John’s wife emailed me from England to ask if I could give her any embarrassing stories about her husband, so she could shared them at his impending 50th birthday. I sat down and wrote a long and detailed reply, telling her about The Evening Of The Skeleton Key.

No point keeping skeletons in John’s closet.


For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.

39 comments:

Shadow said...

just gimme those rows and rows of colourful keys...

Hilary said...

It sounds as if John is as least as colourful as these keys. Love the images.. so eye-catching.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I'll bet his party will be a fun one, with many stories.

Mr. Nighttime said...

LOL! That's great. Now all I have to worry about are friends of mine giving stories to my wife for my 50th birthday party in 2 months.

Funny, but I seem to remember my friend Willie and I doing something similar when I was 15. He was a year older than me, and studying for his learner's permit when he decided he needed more than just book knowledge. While his father was asleep (his dad worked the overnight shift in the NYC subway), he lifted the keys to his car, dragged me along, and practiced his driving skills in the streets of the Bronx.

It's amazing we never got caught.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

LOL! Great story! Wonderful clincher! Fabulous photography! This blogger's got it all...A standing ovation for you, David!!! ~Janine

~Just me again~ said...

ROFL - that's funny. And a very vibrant picture too!

Ms. Neha Gandhi said...

hahahhaa... so funny...
m sure the actual "John" would be so embarrased - the whole world knows about his feats now :)

Expat From Hell said...

Great story. Always a wonder what creativity like that will bring forth. Or bring from the rear! I will be back again.

ExpatFromHell

Eddie Bluelights said...

Was it a 'Honda Accord(ion)' since it resembled a concertina.
Great story and photos ~ Eddie

Grace Albaugh said...

I think just about everyone has a juvenile and a car story. This one is classic.

Nessa said...

Very funny, well, for everyone except John.

Janie said...

LOL! Love your title and photos of colorful keys. John sounds like an interesting person. I hope his creativity lasted past the "key" event. In spite of his early mischief, I'll bet he's done very well in life.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

Great story and great images, always colourful!!

Maria-Thérèse said...

haahaaa :-D

Those keys are magnificent! Looks like I'll have to move to another continent. Or bring out the nail polish.

Did you see what happened?? My art is going to be in a movie! Yay!

AnjuGandhi said...

i would love to have all those lovely coloured keys but if they are for my skeleton cupboard then a big No for them

Leslie: said...

I love how you can relate a fabulous story with your photos. No matter what!

Reminds me of the time my older sister got her driver's license and our Dad let her take the car one night to a friend's place. Not long after she'd left, the phone ran. It was my sister calling from a stranger's house about a mile away (no cell phones in those days!). Apparently, the road had been blocked off because of current repairs. However, she got out of the car and moved the barrier and drove through. Yes, she got stuck in wet, mucky gravel. I thought my Dad was going to blow a gasket, but he roared with laughter and until the day he died loved to tell that story. lol

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Ug, a parent's worst nightmare. I'm sure John didn't mind you turning state's evidence on him. Super images, as usual.

Frank Baron said...

Ha! Good story, well told.

I suspect John will forgive you. The part of the story where he's hiding rang a bell with me. I recall playing with a magnifying glass at my Dad's furniture store and setting a brand new sofa on fire. I hid in the basement behind the furnace for hours.

GreenJello said...

I love how you take photos of the seemingly most insignificant things, and make them awe inspiring pictures of beauty.

Maggie May said...

I loved this tale as much as I loved the beautifully coloured photos of the keys.
Really great!
Hope John forgives you!

Sylvia K said...

What a great, fun story -- even though at John's expense! And perfect for the "S" day! I love all those beautifully colored keys! Gorgeous colors and fun! Thanks for the giggle, David!

Sarah Lulu said...

Hahah what a meanie you are telling the story!

Love the keys ..love the order and the colour ..a very interesting choice.

My youngest son Giraffe Boy used to have a fascination for keys and padlocks. We had them everywhere.

Thank you so much for your kind comment on my blog.

Sarah Lulu

A Brush with Color said...

Oh, what wonderful colors in those glorious photos. And that's just a great story all around! Thanks for visiting my blog and educating me about Anzac day as well!

Rikkij said...

I guess there's a "me" everywhere. those keys look good enough to eat! ~rick

SandyCarlson said...

Those rows of color are gorgeous.

jay said...

Hahaha! I bet there is no shortage of embarrassing stories about that guy!

Lovely picture of the key blanks!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

What a cute post, David! Loved this! LOL!

Sheila :-)

Kim said...

Not the kind of story a fairly new mother of a son wants to hear. I'd like to live in this la-la land for as long as possible please!

City Girl said...

Did you also build a PowerPoint presentation of images to accompany the story(ies)?

Brilliant images. :o)

Robynn's Ravings said...

COLOR COLOR COLOR - it's always my THANG! Love this.

dutchbaby said...

What a good friend you are - delivering a very entertaining story for your buddy's 50th birthday celebration. His wife will love telling it.

Great photos!

Babooshka said...

No wonder you changed his name. Colourful personality to match those colourful keys.

joan said...

Love the key photos!

Q said...

Creative and fun!
Stories are entertaining when told by a photographer and a storyteller!
Sherry

Tumblewords: said...

How funny! Glad you could help out, there! It'll be a better evening, for all that!

Mushy said...

You never fail to show me the color!

onangelwings said...

Great story and very colorful keys.

Regina said...

Beautiful shots and story!
Love the colors.

Lee said...

LOL I bet he was shaking with laughter all through the story. Great story, David.

I've seen those same sort of keys at the local WalMart. I think that keys had already changed to those "improved" versions by the time I was old enough to use one. A real skeleton key for our house would have been so cool!

Cheers!