Knock, knock

How to dogdge religious solicitors

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It's Saturday morning when, suddenly, you hear a knock at the door.

Everyone you know is either hung over or cleaning house. They all know better than to attempt any contact with you before noon anyway. It can only be one thing. Religious canvassers. Actually, that's two things, since, like snakes, they travel in pairs. You peek out the window, expecting to see two kids who look like IBM recruits.

Instead, you see a pudgy old lady in a faded print dress, attended by a skinny teenage girl with stringy hair and more freckles than a trout. The girl glances nervously at the slit in the curtain and quickly looks away. Girl Scout cookies? Raffle tickets? Opening the door out of curiosity, you become the proud owner of a copy of their tract. It was the girl who fooled you. You never figured they'd bring a kid along. You rack your brains for some gracious means of escape, making a silent resolution that next time you'll follow your instinct to stand motionless in the middle of the living room hoping that protective coloration will render you invisible.

Rack your brains no longer! After years of similar experiences, I have developed several techniques for turning those agonizing encounters into hours of entertainment. Here are just a few of the great techniques you can use:

1. Listen for a minute or two with a polite but puzzled expression and then speak in a foreign language. Better yet, make one up. Brand names for electronic components serve as an excellent base for an impromptu language. I've found the following bit to be an excellent opener: 'Fritzen mitsuba micht sony leam spartinza. Nakamichi shpont olufsen takamine. Cheloken eraza fleecht?'

2. Before you open the door, put on a pair of Groucho glasses and pour some Pine Sol in a coffee cup. Then attempt to engage them in a serious debate, spreading Pine Sol fumes by blowing occasionally into the cup as if you are cooling it. See how long you can hold them. Try to remember not to drink out of the cup.

3. Pretend to be deaf. Point to your ears, shake your head, and make intricate movements with your fingers and hands. This can backfire if they happen to know sign language. In that case, switch to being blind.

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