I closed the door and locked it, having been extremely rude to a couple of strangers. They didn't really deserve it, but DAMN! How much of this shit do I have to TAKE?
People who know me know that I tend to be impatient with people who turn up on my doorstep with something I don't want. People who don't know me well say, "How can you do the job you do -- a job that requires infinite patience -- and yet be impatient with Girl Scouts, band students selling candy, and Jehovah's Witnesses?"
Well, I'm not impatient with Girl Scouts and band students. In fact, I could do with more of those. They actually sell something I am interested in, although my waistline could do with less of it. No, my ire is reserved almost entirely for two things: proselytizers of some religion or other, and magazine salesmen.
In the past three days, I have been pestered twice by magazine salesmen. The first realized right away that I wasn't going to yield a profit, and thanked me, and left. The second, this afternoon, didn't know when to quit, and got snapped at for his trouble. Part of me wanted to admire his persistence -- I've been a salesman myself -- but a much larger part of me wanted to start with "This is a waste of your time and an intrusion on mine," and end with a foaming stream of profanities and gunfire intended to scare the bastard into the street, down the block, and out of my neighborhood forever. I don't WANT your fraggin' magazines, I don't CARE about your fraggin' scholarship, and I don't give a rat's bahonkus about your points, your competition, or your vacation to the friggin' Bahamas! You are part and parcel of a scam to sell me magazines, we both know it, I don't want your magazines, I will not give you money, and standing here on my front porch blowing sunshine up my ass is a POINTLESS ENDEAVOR THAT SERVES NO PURPOSE OTHER THAN MAKING ME ANGRY, ASSHOLE!!!!
I said none of these things. I cut him off; he tried to make a joke; I looked him in the eye and said, "Goodbye." He looked hurt, but he took the hint.
Less than an hour later, the Mormons showed up. Becca thought it was funny. I should have thought it was funny, too. Instead, I was livid. I answered the door, and if I recall, I said something to the effect of "Jesus, what is this? Are the assholes out in FORCE today? CAN'T YOU READ THE SIGN?" And I slammed the door in their rather shocked faces.
I do have a "no proselytizing" sign next to the front door. Perhaps the next one needs words. In three or four languages. And perhaps some neon.
At any rate, this story is largely why I don't much like people who pester me at the front door...
Years ago, I was much younger, and didn't live here. I lived in a part of a certain town, far from here, that seemed infested with Jehovah's Witnesses.
At the time, I didn't have a thing against any religious group, creed, belief system, or much of anyone else.
I still don't.
Except Jehovah's Witnesses.
You see, these Jehovah's Witnesses used to Witness the hell out of this one neighborhood. Once or twice a month, I could count on one or two of them knocking on my door, wanting to come in and discuss "The Watchtower" with me.
This wouldn't have been so bad, except that they INVARIABLY showed up around eight a.m. or so... on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
I was in college at the time, unemployed, and independently wealthy from the royalties on my patents on various evil rubber sex toys, and the idea of being awake and ambulatory at eight a.m. on ANY day for ANY reason was durn near against MY religion.
...so like a sucker, I'd shrug into a bathrobe, stagger blindly into the living room, and open the door, expecting to find my old man there, telling me to get dressed, your grandfather's had a stroke...
...and instead be confronted by two clean-cut young men in white shirts and ties who want to give me literature and can they come in and discuss The Watchtower with me?
Now, I'm not fond of a lot of churchy folks to begin with, and I'm especially suspicious of the ones that come HUNTING ME DOWN. Nearly all religions preach humility, and for a quality so highly valued, you sure don't see a lot of it in many of these folks, and I don't much like being treated high-handedly or looked down the nose at, on the off chance that I don't happen to subscribe to a particular godfest, okay? And what kind of insane mindset holds the idea that if you PESTER someone long enough, they’ll join your church?
...and in time, I came to resent these people. I quit being polite. I got rather curt with them. "No thank you, I already have a religion," followed by closing the door in their faces because if you DON'T close the door in their faces, they'll KEEP TALKING, they won't LET you get away gracefully and politely...
In fact, some of them seem to THRIVE on being verbally abused, cursed at, sprayed down with garden hoses, and generally badly treated. Years later, my wife told me that this is PART of Witnessing -- being kicked in the butt by the Infidels. This is part of how Witnesses earn their way into Heaven! The more dirt you throw at them, the more exalted they'll be when they get there... the sweeter it is when they manage to CONVERT someone... the jollier it is, altogether. In short, being spat upon is PART OF THEIR RELIGION.
And it didn't stop them. They kept coming back.
...and this culminated in an ugly incident one Saturday morning.
You see, the previous Friday night, we'd been into Coca-Cola... and Civilization.
Civilization, the old Avalon Hill board game. Seven players. Each player takes the part of a Stone Age tribe, and you have to build a Classical Civilization, based on trade, warfare, and individual achievements like music, architecture, metalworking, agriculture, and so on. Ever played it? It's a kick, and educational, too...
...but a seven-player game rarely takes less than eight hours.
We'd just finished up. We'd been rolling dice and moving mice for about fifteen hours... and that sonofabitch Bobo had done his usual trick of cornering the goddamn salt market, ALL over the Mediterreanean, and the other players LET HIM DO IT, every damn game, and I'd had HELL keeping the Minoans out of Thrace, and Troll had been spreading plagues, iconoclasm, and heresy left and right -- he'd managed to delay the Greeks' entry into the Late Iron Age for two whole turns... and the Creature kept wanting to expand up out of Egypt (he stomped on the Egyptian player early -- he'd started out in Africa and, as Zimbabwe, had squeezed the Egyptian player out of the game singlehanded, but was still dumb enough to trade Bobo salt for ochre)...
...we were WEIRD. It was seven-thirty in the morning, and we were stonkered on caffeine, nicotine, ancient history, and fatigue poisons -- an ugly mix. One by one, we began getting up, putting away the board and tokens, and clearing away the mess.
Since it was my house, I decided to go to bed. I stripped down to my skivvies, and dived into the Legendary Waterbed, about which there's another story around here somewhere.
I'd been there maybe fifteen minutes... just enough time to get REALLY comfortable... when there was a knock on the door. Troll and Bobo were still there, but at that time, we weren't living together, and they weren't comfortable answering my door... so I got up, still dressed in nothing but Fruit-Of-The-Looms, and answered the door, fully expecting that it was the Creature or someone, having forgotten his keys or some durn thing...
...and, in the pale morning light, I found myself face to face with a fat lady in a flowered dress and her two small children. They all seemed quite surprised to be confronted with a sudden hairy near-naked man who stank of old cigarettes and the dust of ancient history. Precisely what they DID expect to find at my house at eight a.m. on a Saturday morning, I couldn't tell you.
We all stood there and stared at each other for a moment.
And then my eyes focused. I saw what it was she was clutching to her breast.
PAMPHLETS. And copies of THE WATCHTOWER.
I screamed. Well, perhaps howled is a better term. I wasn't afraid, of course... I wasn't even really angry... but I'd been comfortable, dammit, and about to drift off to sleep, and I'd taken THIRD place in the dratted game, thanks to Troll's carefully timed plague and Bobo's goddamn salt-based economy, and I'd been on the VERY EDGE of drifting off to dreamland, and it was EIGHT goddamn A.M. on a SATURDAY morning, and HERE THE BASTARDS WERE, ALL OVER AGAIN!
So I screamed. Loud. Guttural. Absolutely berserk.
Troll and Bobo looked up.
The woman screamed, too.
Her children turned tail and ran.
She stood there, mouth hanging open, brain locked up on her from sheer shock.
It occurred to me that it would be nice if she would run away, too. It would certainly be convenient. How could I make this happen? Perhaps if I did something that seemed threatening...
I glanced at the umbrella holder next to the door.
In it were two umbrellas, a cane, a large rubber double-ended dildo, and a sword. A real sword, genuine Toledo steel, left over from RenFaire. I grabbed it, waved it around, and screamed again.
She screamed again, too, spun around, and took off running across my front yard.
...now I don't really know why I did what I did next. I was still kind of asleep, you'll remember, or at the very least not really awake, and I'd been up all night, and I sure as anything wasn't really thinking straight.
I do know, though, that I decided that she might stop running. I didn't want her to stop running. I wanted her to keep running clear to Oklahoma, if at all possible. The only way I could think of to make her keep running was the thing I had done to make her start running in the first place.
So I took off running, too. I screamed some more, and began waving the sword, like a loony about to make Viking salad out of some luckless soul.
The children had stopped running at the sidewalk. When the mostly naked hairy man erupted from the bushes in pursuit of Mama, waving a sword and shrieking like a banshee with kidney stones, they took OFF, with Mama right behind, and the crazy hairy man in hot pursuit.
I screamed again.
Mama screamed again.
The kids, not to be left out, screamed REAL loud.
Well, I didn't want the cycle to stop anytime soon. I screamed again. Mama screamed again, and the kids screamed again, and we all ran across the street at the end of the block.
Well, as you'll imagine, this was kind of noisy.
Some people poked their heads out of windows. A few front doors opened. People were looking to see what was happening.
...and it occurred to me that this particular course of action might have consequences that I had not foreseen.
I stopped running.
By now, the kids had reached a car, and were tugging at the handle and crying and screaming for Mama, Mama, the car is locked!
Mama hadn't looked over her shoulder, and was still booking, all three hundred pounds of her. They all leaped into the car, all in a twinkling.
I roared at them and waved my sword, as they peeled out and drove away.
I stood there in the middle of someone's front yard in my underwear, holding a broadsword.
People looked at me.
Fortunately, at the time, I was well equipped to save face -- I had hair down past my shoulders, and a beard out to here. I scowled around me. A couple of people closed their front doors.
Feeling dangerous and foolish, I walked back to my house. Troll and Bobo solemnly applauded as I stuck the sword back in the umbrella stand and went to bed.
I understand the cops drove up and down the street a few minutes later, but nothing ever came of it.
...and for the rest of the time I lived at that address... the Jehovah's Witnesses NEVER bothered us again.