The Rant 

Dick Van Dyke, door to door salesmen, and Saturday morning ...

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I guess spring has officially sprung. Not because of the dates, or the budding trees and flowers, or the birds chirping away in the morning, or all of the millions of allergens that seem to have found their way behind my eyeball. It's the knocking on the door. My door. On Saturday mornings.

I don't know if it's because of the neighborhood I live in or because my house looks a little on the need-help side (it is certainly not inviting, with shrubs and vines planted and placed strategically to keep the world out), but it seems that every stranger in town feels compelled to knock on my door every Saturday morning.

No, it's not the neighbors. Mercifully, I have great neighbors who understand and respect boundaries, both physical and psychological. No, these are people who think I need them. Every person with a lawn mower, pair of hedge clippers, rake, or one of those awful, loud, outdoor blow things seems to think I am up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning just waiting on them to come and save me by doing yard work for me. By removing wildlife. By repairing my roof that doesn't leak. By pouring me a new concrete driveway. Most of the times that I've agreed to anything like that, they wanted to be paid in advance because of some insane tragedy that requires them to first go somewhere and buy a gallon of gas for some relative who is either dying or just lost his or her job. Never again. If you are going to knock on the doors of people you don't know at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning and beg to do yard work, please stop with the sob stories and wanting to be handed the cash for work not yet done, and then say you have to leave first and will come back. Jesus.

Oh, and speaking of which: If it's not the long line of yard workers and handymen with pick axes in hand and sob stories aplenty, it is the church people. My neighborhood is a real magnet for them. Jehovah's Witnesses, Korean Baptists, you name it; they are all out to save me. I wish I could begin to relay the story to you that one of the Korean Baptists had about trying to hand out literature on Detroit's 8 Mile Road and having her purse snatched out of her hands by the first person she tried to visit. Poor thing. She was really sweet, as most all of the church door-knockers are, which is why it never really makes me mad. I know they are trying to do what they think is best. I just wish they were feeding homeless people or rescuing abused animals or something with more potential than trying to save me.

So this past Saturday morning, bright and early, there's a knock at the door. It scared me and made the cats run to the other end of the house, all hunkered down close to the floor and with their ears back like they were in combat. Or hungry. And it is the church people. I crack the door open, smile, say hello, and they say they have an invitation for me and they hand me a little booklet. I thank them and proceed to look at what it is they are inviting me to — an Easter celebration, a concert, I don't know — but it doesn't look like the booklet is an invitation at all. It's like a little storybook done in cartoon style and not half-bad cartoon style at that. The cover has what looks like a depiction of a desert at night with cool stars and things but has big red letters that read, "THIS WAS YOUR LIFE!"

Uh oh, I begin to think to myself, this might not be a really happy story. But the deal is, on the first page there's a cartoon of a very suave gentleman wearing a turtleneck shirt with matching sweater, standing in his yard enjoying a cocktail and smoking a pipe, and he has a big smile on his face. I think the car in his driveway is a Corvette, but I'm not sure. It all looks very Dick Van Dyke Show-ish. Then, in the second cartoon, there's a grim reaper-looking character with some kind of blade in his hand (probably wanting to trim my shrubs), holding the happy guy (who is not so happy now) by the back, shaking his cocktail and pipe from his hands and calling him, "THOU FOOL."

The evil character then kills him and puts him in a clear coffin and buries him in a suit, but a page later, he comes back to life and arises wearing no clothes. For most of the rest of the booklet, the happy guy has to relive every moment of his life, including sitting in church thinking, "I wonder who's winning the ball game?" I can't really explain much else about it, but it looks like the guy ends up getting a job because he has become a good Christian, and he gets hired by a character that looks kinda like Hitler. I can tell you one thing for sure, this is one party I'm going to miss.

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