Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Even Better Than Locking the Door

We’ve all had them, the ubiquitous callers out to save our soul and sign us up for their club/cult. Not so long ago, the Witnesses or Adventists or those tandem-traveling, bicycle-riding Mormons boys (cute, but would I trust them with my teen-age daughter?) would ring doorbells up and down our street attempting to convert the heathens. I know they meant well, but really, I’m a grown woman with just-about grown children; I’ve been contemplating spiritual matters and doing the metaphysical math for decades. What I haven’t figured out, I’ll wait for a burning bush to tell me, thank you very much. Until then, I am quite content with my lapsed-Unitarian, quasi-Buddhist ways. Best not to answer the door, for these people are over-trained in not taking no for an answer.

Way back in the day, in another town in a county south of here, my then-husband had cured the local Ultra-Christian gangs of rousting us from our coveted, heathenish weekend sleep. One Sunday morning, after a brisk round of knocking, he opened the door in his birthday suit. Nothing like a naked brown man with tousled hair to send proselytizers packing. After the brief commotion in which they hurriedly turned and hustled down the porch steps, shielding their kids' eyes, no doubt, never to return, I sleepily asked him why he even answered the door and then without the jammies God gave him last Christmas. He said with all that pounding on the door, he thought it was an emergency, like the time the hillside was on fire, or the drunk burglar was hiding, noisily, in the back yards on our block. I hazarded that the Adventists had probably once thought we were a spiritual emergency, but now thought we were spiritual felons. Or a lost cause, for they never came around again. None of them did. Must have been a note they passed amongst themselves: crazy naked heathen, black as Hades; don’t take the kids.

But that had been another neighborhood in another county, as I said. And while it had been a sure-fire method, that husband now lived on the other side of the globe and couldn’t be called in for doorbell duty.. When it rang in the middle of a weekend morning, I wasn’t ready to shuck my clothes, especially since I had probably just succeeded in getting into them. Nor did I think I carried quite the same scare-factor: a buck-naked woman, no matter how over the hill and hefty, might be considered an attraction to some. You just never know.

So one day I printed up a sign and posted it on the door. It read: “Herein resides a bunch of FUB's: Finnish Unitarian Buddhists. We promise not to proselytize you, if you promise not to proselytize us.” A few groups clomped up the steps, stood for few minutes, then retreated. They must have put some sort of hobo-sign on our house that warns others away from the FUB Cabal, as we haven’t had any cult-callers since, even though the sign disintegrated and disappeared years ago.


  1. Lakin, I am not anonymous, I am me, your younger brother, Jonathan. There seems to be some sort of fuss about me signing in, unpaid traffic tickets in Oregon or who knows. Natalie, a friend, relates this about her father, who is retired and loves to talk. Not only does he love to talk, he is very interested in the world and can talk at great length about any subject with a quiet authoritative voice. His manner is so convincing that one becomes a willing participant in long talks about volcanoes, cappachino, and so forth. It tuns out that telemarketing firms have their own "Do Not Call Lists" just for people like him. I expect that if one was offer a warm welcome and an invite such as "I will make us some tea, but we can not speak about religion" might get you an interesting session.
    In any event, friends lent me tape of Anna Russell, which I greatly enjoyed, as it is a touchstone to an admittedly strange childhood. She was older than on vynal, and the pipes were older too, but the wit was as keen as ever.



  2. Many years ago someone told my mother that if you tell the JW's that you are Catholic, they will run the other way. My family happens to really be Catholic, so we all tried it and it really works! Later someone gave us one of those "comic books" that JW's give out, and sure enough, Catholics are portrayed as some kind of very scarey devils that are trying to take over the JW soul!

  3. dear both anonymous-folks.(anonimi? no that's really bad fake Latin). And anyway, I know both of you!

    those are cool tips.I like the chatty dad thing; it's a good story, Jonathan. And I didn't know about the JW's Catholic-phobia, Kathleen; it's kind of fascinating. Why are they so terrified? Maybe it's a legacy of the Papist/Protestant distrust from centuries-ago Europe?

    hmmm. Maybe I'll re-write the sign...


  4. Well, let's see if I turn out to be anonymoose as well. This comes from Larry, who will deliver Jane to your presence at the end of this week.

    Last week, I surprised the hell out of myself, or maybe surprised myself into hell. I was sitting in my bathrobe doing the taxes, when I heard a knock on the door. Opening it, I found a middle aged gentleman packing a bible and waving a flyer. "Sir, I just want to be sure that you know about this coming event". Something told me that he was a fundamentalist preacher. We got a lot of 'm around here. I looked him straight in the eyeballs.

    "Go away and don't come back" I said.

    "Do you know who I am?" he said?

    "You are carrying a bible", I responded. "Go away and don't come back".

    As he left, he thanked me. I told him that he was welcome.

    My Sufi musician friend Joseph told me that his late partner, Starfire (she had been Molly, but since her parents gave her that name and she despised them, she had to find something more suitable) used to actually invite the JW's in for tea and talk with them. I can imagine the conversations, sort of. I suspect somebody was pretty uncomfortable, but I doubt that the uncomfortable person(s) would have been Starfire!

  5. Hey, Larry, so good to hear from you! How are you doing?
    Thanks for the Limey Transportation; the Re-Onion would not be the same
    without our dear Jane.

    Loved your story, esp. about being surprised into hell!

    Sometimes I'm tempted to dig up some Jesus-shoes and bell-bottoms and walk
    around doing some born-again hippie proslytizing. We might even get some

    See you in a few!



Noise makers!