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.
4. Interrupt every sentence with a long, rambling, and totally pointless story. Try to work in your latest medical difficulty, especially if it involved surgery or hemorrhoids. Other topics to touch on are flatulent dogs, copy-machine repairmen, spatulas, hypoallergenic deodorants, mah-jongg, asbestos, persistent nose hair, 900-number psychic lines, and genetically engineered vegetables. Extra points if you can get three or more of these topics into one sentence.
5. Tell them you are a druid. This is much more convincing if you live in an oak grove and paint yourself blue.
6. Ask them if they are from the health board about the hepatitis quarantine. Offer them a sip of your coffee.
7. Offer them $25 to talk to your neighbors instead. Give them the money in loose pennies.
8. Tell them you are not allowed to talk to strangers until the assault case has come to trial. More effective if you come to the door with a knife or a baseball bat.
9. Insist that you graduated from high school with them. In an effort to jog their memory, recount various escapades you joined them in. Refuse to be dissuaded from this conviction. This is more effective if there is a dramatic difference in your ages.
10. Using a cordless phone, call someone you haven't talked to for a while. Then go to the door and make gestures like you'll only be a minute. See how long they stay. My best record is 10 minutes.
From The Door (Sept./Oct. 1995), an 'emerged zine' for Christians with attitude. Subscriptions: $22.95/yr. from Box 616, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0616.