A sharp ping: the doorbell. Who could that be, 1 pm on a dull Saturday afternoon? We haven't been getting many Solicitors for Jesus since we posted that "We're Finnish Pagan Unitarian Buddhists" sign years ago. Friends and family tend to walk in the back door with maybe a rap on the door frame and a quick "Yoo Hoo!" --if we're lucky.
I opened the front door, swathed in XX-Large grey and red bathrobe, blue-striped pj legs just showing above my bare feet. (It was that kind of dull Saturday.) And instantly and infinitely glad I was swathed; three men, all in gold-edged kurta-paijama, with snug round brimless topis on their heads, stood at staggered heights down the narrow steps. Muslims from the mosque a few blocks up and over. Yes, there is one in our fair town, in a church building purchased from a Pentecostal private school that went bust about five years ago.
"Is the Khan here?" the nearest and oldest said through the screen, as all of them averted their eyes, turning half around in their confusion to avoid looking straight at me.
"No, no, he's not." The nearest, in white, turned back towards me a bit and raised his eyebrows. He'd had some practice dealing with the likes of us.
"I was married to a Sanauddin Khan once, but no longer."
Now they all sort of glanced back toward me without actually looking at me, truly askance; though the youngest, maybe in late 20's, in a lovely blue outfit, then snapped his head back around, having already retreated to the sidewalk.
"He's in Pakistan. But thanks for coming by. Have a nice day!"
"Oh," the oldest fella said, nodding a bit. The two still on the steps glanced at each other, then waved their hands and walked down.
"Salaam Alaykum," I said, hoping to break the ice.
"Alaykum Salaam," I think they muttered as they left.
I closed the door, quick-like. Obviously, this was not what they came for. I'm sure they were hoping to rope another Khan into their mosque. But Sonny (as he preferred to be called) wouldn't have been a good prospect anyway; he hadn't been that good of a Muslim when he lived here. He moved to America for a reason.
At least I wasn't in frayed jean cutoffs (above the knee!) and a ratty tee-shirt (a cleaning-on-a-hot-day sort of Saturday) when I opened the door, like the last time this trio of Muslim men came by, scouting for the Khan in the little house on B Street. In micro-seconds, they had completely turned around, scuttled down the steps in their soft-soled shoes and stood with their backs to me, talking very briefly from the safety of the sidewalk. All of us were furiously blushing.
Yes, once again, there be heathens in this house.