Knock, knock

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.

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.

UTNE
UTNE
In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.