keystones & lynchpins
(originally posted 8/10/2014)
Let me set the scene.
There is a room and in this room there are two people. One looks a lot like someone you can trust and one looks like the kind of person you’d avoid at a party.
Only you can say why.
They sit on opposite sides of a table and they are having an argument. They are discussing an important political figure in history and one of them is adamant that this person was a lynchpin and the other is just as resolute in their belief that this individual was a keystone.
Voices rise and fall.
There is fire behind their words and all you can think about as you read this “who is the important political figure?”
I have to bring the story to a complete halt because I can see how much you want to know which side to be on. I could tell you that it makes no difference but I’d be wasting my time. I don’t dare describe another thing because it would be lost on you. I can feel things at work behind your eyes, examples of lynchpins and keystones and how each term could be applied to various characters throughout history based on their accomplishments. If you only knew who they were talking about you could have a very firm opinion.
And then you’d hope that same opinion was shared by the trustworthy person sitting at the table.
Whatever intentions I had for this story be damned, you want to believe there is a right answer and you somehow need it to come from the lips of the person you trust because you want every opportunity to have that trust validated.
Even at the expense of what could have been a very interesting tale.
And that other person, the one who refuses to yield to reason, just confirms why you want nothing to do with them at a social gathering. “Who invited that loser?” would slip unprovoked through your head as soon as your eyes fell on them.
Even I, the supposed creator of this story, can’t begin to explain your visceral reaction.
There is only a single window in the room the two figures are sitting in but you don’t care. You care even less about the crooked curtains or the sunlight doing its best to come through the grime of several years of derelict cleaning. Those same years have done their best to steal the flowered pattern from the curtains.
What is it about the face of the person you trust? Is there some sexual tension or is it the complete lack of it that allows you to feel confidence in them?
The two of them continue the debate as your mind wanders to the people in your own life. It never occurs to you to wonder what difference there could possibly be in the words lynchpin and keystone relative to the historical figure because you can immediately see the difference in context those two words could have. They might as well be debating lovers and friends.
They aren’t, but you begin to as I try helplessly to plow on and tell you that the table is one of those old folding varieties that usually has some sort of cloth over it to hide the chipped paint and peeling top. For a moment I feel bold enough to assume that the person I would have begin tugging on the flakes of chipping laminate would be the person you don’t like but then I stop myself because as this whole thing progresses, I’m starting to realize that I’m not exactly sure if you’d associate nervous energy with likability given the fact that although I don’t know much, I do know that you’re the kind of person who fidgets and peels and chips away at things when you’re bored.
And to try to guess your political leanings so I could offer up an appropriate person to fill the role of premise to this little narrative would be hopeless.
Eventually the argument winds down and the two shake hands and agree to disagree and I can feel how unhappy you are with this resolution. You like to win and you wanted your trustworthy person to win, so you’re now looking around for something to fiddle with and perhaps break.
You never cared about the chairs they sat on despite the fact that I had a really cool description to share but I won’t bother.
Even now, seeing how annoyed I am by your attitude, you refuse to be bothered about the carpeting or wallpaper and yet you want to pretend that you enjoy losing yourself in a yarn. All you want to do now is decide which person, the trustworthy one or the one that makes you uncomfortable to be around, you want to act as a catalyst for the coming nostalgic faraway look on your face.
… and there it is.
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