A floating door seems like a sad, lost thing, doesn’t it?
In my teens, I spent some time with a friend at her family’s cottage near North Bay, Ontario, a few hours’ drive away. During the course of the trip, we’d always be baffled at the sight of houses – lots of them – with stairless exterior doors that appeared to be suspended halfway up the side of the building. It was intriguing, and a little unsettling. When I looked at those strange doors, I’d be reminded of that lithograph by M.C. Escher – Relativity – in which the doors and staircases are in odd and impossible configurations.
I came across a floating door today, close to home. I guessed that there may have been a set of stairs here at some point. With the death of the stairs, this lonely door lost its purpose.
Back at home, my assistant, Google, led me to this: this floating door phenomenon has a nickname, at least in Newfoundland, where it appears to be somewhat common.
It’s called The Mother-in-Law Door.
If you’re not a big fan of your spouse’s mother, it’s the door you’d direct her to use when she leaves the house.
Good-natured jabs at mothers-in-law aside, a definite explanation of this trend isn’t agreed upon. A common story in Newfoundland involves a loophole in fire safety regulations that requires a residential building to have two exits, but doesn’t specify that stairs are also required.
If I lived in such a building, I’d probably splurge on some stairs, so that small children, or adults disoriented for any reason, including one too many glasses of red wine (not that it ever happens to me), don’t end up requiring stitches.
Besides, I really like my mother-in-law.