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7 Reasons That I’ve Been Baffled By A Doormat

Posted on October 4, 2011 in Top Posts | 4 comments

Okay, I’ve been really confused.  I’ve had a tricky problem that’s been plaguing me for the past two days that I think I’ve finally solved but it’s been quite a journey.  It all started with a new arrival*.  A doormat.  I bought it to go inside the front door in the 3’ x 3’ space that, if I were grand, I’d refer to as my entrance hall or vestibule.  As it is, I’ve really never referred to that space before, I just know it as the-area-behind-the-front-door or occasionally the-area-in-front-of-the-world.  Anyway, I digress.  Below these words and above some more is a picture of the doormat.  Here are seven reasons that it’s been baffling me.


1.  Perspective.  Yesterday morning, I pulled the mat from its bag and strode to the front door.  I had blithely supposed that I would be able to place the doormat inside the door and walk away to do something else.  Something important.  Something interesting.  But as I went to place the mat on the floor I felt troubled.  The problem was that the mat has a picture on it.  That means that it’s no mere utilitarian home accessory.  It’s also art.  Not high-art, admittedly.  It’s not Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Klimpt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which is fortunate as they probably wouldn’t fare well hanging on the floor in my hallway, and I would probably soon tire of the tourists.  But it’s still art.  And art’s there to be contemplated and enjoyed, to enhance an environment and provide stimulation for those that inhabit the same space.  Essentially, in this case, I realised that when I looked at the owls, I wanted them not to be upside down.

2.  But That Would Be Unwelcoming.  Surely the doormat should face outward.  To welcome guests.  To make a nice first impression.  What would we be saying by having the mat face inward?  That we’re selfish people that want the owls the right way up for ourselves and care not a whit for the feelings of others?  That would make us appear distinctly unwelcoming.  You can’t greet people with upside down owls.  It’s a question of doormat etiquette.  Doormatiquette.

3.  But!  Does an outward facing mat welcome guests though?  Because when the guests come into the house – and they sometimes do, we’re sociable people that don’t bite – the owls would be upside down.  So then everybody would be looking at the owls the wrong way up.  Both guests and residents.  No one would win.

4.  Furthermore!  Having an outward facing mat would send another message.  An unwelcoming message.  And that message is Stop!  Come no further.  Being in the house is an anti climax.  Beyond this point, the owls are upside down.  If you stay outside it’s better.  These people have put this thing here to make sure you stand on their doorstep and come no further.  I was beginning to realise that placing a doormat was more complicated than I thought it was going to be.

5.  A Compromise?  Okay, so there was no way I could have the doormat facing inward or outward.  But could I compromise?  Turning the doormat sideways would seem to be a fair thing to do, but wait?!  A sideways doormat!  That would be weird.  If someone opened a front door to you and their doormat was sideways you’d think they were barmy.  You’d assume that they were a gibbering harebrain that spent their nights pointing at the moon and their days pointing at the space the moon had been the previous night, pausing only to laugh hysterically at bicycles.  Have you ever been in the house of anyone with a sideways doormat?  No.  Of course not.  People that have been in the houses of people with sideways doormats are probably still there tied down in the cellar or imprisoned in the shed, being forced to eat balloons and comb a jelly or some equally bizarre and hideous fate.  The sideways doormat compromise was out.

6.  Brainstorming.  By this point, I realised I needed help**.  I decided to ask Twitter.  Carrying the doormat over to the computer, I tweeted my dilemma.  With help from @kittyQ, @davidofyork, @kateypotatey, @jonesyinc1 and @amazingzeesh (all lovely tweeters) I brainstormed the problem.  It was difficult and there was no real consensus.  The nearest we got to a solution was @kateypotatey’s idea of hanging the doormat on the wall and putting it down facing outward only when anyone knocked on the door.  But that raised a further problem.  What would we do when the guests came in?  Wait for them to cross the threshold and then hang the doormat up on the wall?  That would make us look odd.  Not sideways-doormat-odd, but still a teensy bit weird.  And if we didn’t hang it back on the wall we’d all be looking at upside down owls again.  Unless I turned the mat to face inward after they came in but that would appear strange too.  And what if more guests arrived while existing guests were there?   What if we had a party?  Should my wife be responsible for making drinks and handing out nibbles while I take charge of rotating the doormat and greeting people?  That doesn’t sound like much of a party to me.  Or a picnic.  The capacity for it all to go horribly wrong would be endless.  I felt dizzy just thinking about it.  I decided to sleep on it.

7.  And Sleep Helped.  This morning, when I woke I had an idea.  I walked downstairs and turned the doormat upside down.  The doormat would be ostensibly plain and no one would get to see the owls, but I would be able to peek at them whenever I liked.  We’d have secret owls.  But that felt ungenerous and it bothered me for most of the day.  This evening, however, I did solve the problem.  What I need to do is position the mat picture side up, facing outwards, and to convince myself and everyone that comes into the house that it’s a picture of three owls standing on their heads.  I also need to make them forget that I’ve convinced them of that when they leave.  What I need is a live-in hypnotist.  Anyone know one?

*Cue angry mob.

**And I sense that many people might agree with me.

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  1. Put the mat on a turntable, preferably a remote control one, so that you can turn it to face people no matter whether they are arriving or leaving.

  2. And introduce the temptation to play impromptu games of Spin The Surprised House-Guest whenever the mood took me (which would be all the time)? Are you trying to generate business for lawyers, Richard?

  3. As if I would expose you to lawyers.

    All you need are two signs for the front door, one saying ‘Beware of the owls’ and another saying ‘Beware of the occupier’ and you will be fine

  4. I turn my welcome mat upside down so that the word WELCOME is facing the outside, street or world. When I open my front door to walk out into the world or outside, I feel as if the world is welcoming ME.

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