Thursday, November 28, 2013

Vestiges Of The Vestibule

I was going to my car in the parking lot today, when I heard someone behind me ask another person how to pay for parking. The gentleman, who was not that "old," said that there was a vestibule at the side of the lot, with a machine that would accept cash or credit cards.

Now, I hadn't heard the word "vestibule" in years. My grandmother had a very small house, but it did have a vestibule - a small room at the entrance to the house. That is, you opened a door took two steps and opened another door to the outside. I'm not sure what the vestibule was actually used for. I remember that you often took off wet boots and left them there, along with a wet umbrella, to dry. There may have been a few pegs for coats, but most of the coats and hats were kept on a coat stand in the hall, which you entered from the vestibule - I know, a lot of directions for a small house.

Maybe vestibules were truncated foyers. You know, sometimes architects designed very small houses, but incorporated aspects of grander designs into these "pied-a-terres." For example, we also had, in addition to a vestibule, a very small bay window and gables. Anyway, I had to look up the word, vestibule. Here is a description from Wikipedia, with more information than you ever wanted to know about this antiquated anti-room.

Vestibules are not just limited to architecture. There are a few vestibules in our anatomy, too. In fact, given that the word comes from the Latin, Vestibulum, meaning courtyard, I am not surprised that it has taken on such an expanded meaning. Vestibule has morphed from courtyard, to meaning any entrance way. In anatomy there are vestibules of the heart, ear, nose, larynx, mouth and vagina - who would have thought!

In architecture, vestibules are found in lobbies, reception areas, on trains or as mud rooms. They are also listed as footstools, barstools and toilets. I sense that, as an entranceway, it has come to mean a whole lot more than just a courtyard. In fact, if it has anything to do with courting and the vagina, it may have given the idea of foreplay a whole new meaning. I'm not sure that my grandmother would have appreciated this new use of the vestibule, but it was a way of saying "goodnight" to a lover with a door closed to the main house and a door closed to the vapours of the night outside. It may very well have been a courtyard in more ways than one :)

Have an awesome day!!

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