I guess I must be an oddball, because sometimes when the mood catches me just right, there’s nobody I’m happier to see knockin’ on my front door than a religious person or a politician.
Now, it wasn’t always like that. For years, If I saw two young fellas comin up the driveway in white shirts and black ties and nametags, I’d close the curtains, mute the TV and wait for them to leave. And usually under my breath I’d be callin’ them names they probably never even heard before.
Minnie would be mortified, and if she caught onto what I was doin’, she’d open the door, talk to them for a second, politely take their pamphlet and then they’d leave.
And I was the same way with politicians, too. I’d see some slick-lookin’ red-faced rich guy makin’ a fool of himself knockin’ on all the doors on our street while some young whippersnapper walked along with him, carryin’ all his pamphlets and stuff. And I’d do everything just short of nailin’ shutters over the window to avoid havin’ to talk to them.
What’s wrong with you? Minnie would say. All ya gotta do is open the door, take whatever they’re handin’ ya, say thank you, and they leave. Can’t you just act polite for a change?
But then there was one day a few years ago – I remember me and Minnie were sittin’ at the kitchen table and I was in a great mood – either because I just won $5 on a scratch ticket, or because Minnie was makin’ her famous spaghetti and meatballs that night – I don’t know what it was, but when we heard the knock at the door, I said to hell with it and answered it anyway.
I open the door and there’s this fella who looks like a politician if there ever was one. He was wearin’ a golf shirt and dress pants. (In our neighbourhood – can you imagine it?) And he had this great big phony smile on him. Here’s a tip in life – never trust anybody with straight, white teeth.
After a bunch of small talk about the weather, he finally says his name and says he hopes I’ll consider votin’ for him the upcoming election.
Now, like I say, I don’t know what hit me, but I decided to have some fun with the situation.
Come in, come in! I says to him, kickin’ Little Bill’s skateboard out of the doorway. Listen, I says to him. I’ve been thinkin’ about it a lot since the last time you were here and I decided I’m ready to accept Jesus Christ as my personal saviour.
Minnie came runnin’ in from the kitchen when she heard me, but it was too late. I was gettin’ on a roll. The politician looked at me and stammered for a bit.
I wasn’t here before, he said. I’m running for office, I’m not with a church or any –
Now it’s only fair to tell ya, I steamrolled right over him, that I done a few sins in my day, so I figured I should tell ya what they are in case there’s a problem with me gettin’ involved with your church.
Uh, if you need a ride to the polls on election day – he started to say again, before I cut him off.
When I was a young fella, we used to make fun of Fat Joey’s brother Peter, I said. We used to call him Peter Pee-pants because he wet his pants once in Grade 1.
But I’m not – he tried to say again.
I felt bad about that all these years, but it feels good to say it. Confession really is good for the soul, eh, Father? I said, clappin’ the politician on the shoulder.
Have you all received voter registration cards? his young helper asked, but I ignored it.
And when I was a teenager I tried alcohol once when I was underaged, I told him. Well, I said, not really once. More like once a week from, say, 15 until I turned legal. Is underaged drinkin’ a sin, Father? Because what about communion wine?
Well it was real nice to meet you, the politician started to say, tryin’ to back out the door again.
We really should be going, the little helper said, lookin’ at his watch.
Yes, we should, said the politician, tryin’ to chuckle a little.
Now, when a church like yours takes a donation, I said to him. Where does that money go? Does it stay here in the community, or does it go, like, overseas or somethin’? For starvin’ kids in Africa or whatnot?
Thanks for your support, the politician said, backin’ out the doorway.
Because I got no problem with it goin’ to kids overseas or somethin’, I was just wonderin’ about it. Because if it stays here locally, then when those kids outside the liquor store try to sell me their donation tags, I can tell them to go fly a kite because they already gouged me at church. You see what I’m sayin’, eh, Father?
Listen, the politician said, shakin’ my hand again. It was real, real nice to meet you and please give our headquarters a call if we can help with anything before election day.
The phone number’s on the pamphlet, the little helper said, handin’ me one.
That’s great, I said, unfoldin’ the pamphlet and lookin’ at it. So all the times for church service are listed in here somewheres, is it? That’s just great.
OK, you take care, now! The politician said, waving as he walked down the driveway.
God bless you! I yelled after him.
What in the hell was that? Minnie said.
You said I should be more polite at the door, I said. And if any religious types come around, I’ll explain why I’m gonna vote for them.