Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Grand Romantic Delusions Chapter 08: The Connection

     Katie McEllern drove back to her hotel. There was no sense in making further contact with O'Keefe just now—he'd only get suspicious. Besides, she was beginning to think there was something more to this case—something she wasn't being told.
     The way Katie saw it, she could take one of three possible courses of action from here. She could continue shadowing O'Keefe and maybe do some independent background research on him. She could track down the woman from the BMV that O'Keefe seemed to be searching for and hope that he would come to her. Or she could find out more about LaBelle Labs and see if her hunch was correct. Of course, there was always the option to do any combination of—or even all of these.
     After parking in the hotel garage she took the stairs up 16 flights to her room. Katie did her best to keep in shape—sometimes to a fault. It was important to her line of work, though. You never knew when you might have to chase someone down. You also never knew when you might have to flee a scene on foot. This kind of thinking had been labeled "paranoia" by her superiors at the Agency—and that was just one of the many reasons why she worked independently now.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Grand Romantic Delusions—Perspectives: Mary Sue Dagfridchen

     I first met him while waiting in line to renew my license. He had disheveled dishwater-blonde hair worn below the ears, but not long enough to hit the collar of his t-shirt, and a stupid little "soul patch" under his lip. I have no Earthly idea how or why I caught his attention, because I definitely wasn't trying to. I'm nothing special look at and I was wearing scrubby clothes—just an over-sized grey sweatshirt and faded jeans. I was wearing my old granny glasses, too. I had lost my regular glasses, and I hated wearing contacts, so I only put them in for job interviews or special occasions.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Missionary Position

So yesterday evening just after dinner, my family and I are all sitting and watching our regular Sunday night TV shows when there is a somewhat timid-sounding burst of knocks at the door. We all go silent, unsure if we really heard a knock, or whether it was the dog bumping into something upstairs and making noises or what. My teen-age son looks out the kitchen window (this is the only way to see who's at the door of our apartment). He says there's a guy in a suit standing there.

Great, I think. Some kind of salesman—probably looking to sell vacuum cleaners or insurance or maybe religion or something. Just to be clear, I have, on occasion, been known to buy a bit of candy or cookies from a child going door-to-door, but only because a) I'm in the mood for a snack and if b) I'm OK with the music program or Girl Scouts or whatever it is the kid is trying to promote. I don't like the fact that some of these organizations exploit kids in this way, but it's hard to say "No" to a child standing there with a box of cookies in her hand and a look of hope in her eye. 

Also, I fucking love Samoas.

Anyway, as I was saying, I generally don't care for the whole door-to-door thing. First of all, if there's something I want, I will go and get it. If I need insurance (which I don't, as it happens), I'll go shop for it. If I need a new appliance, or steaks delivered to my door, or bottles of knock-off fragrances or magazines or anything else, I will either go get that thing or order it online. I don't need some asshole interrupting family time, TV time, video game time, dinner time or any other part of my personal life with a sales pitch. So, I'm already miffed when I go to answer the door in my pajama shorts and tattered T-shirt.

I open the door, and there are two young men in suits and ties standing there.

"Yeah?" I inquire.

They stand there staring at me, mouths agape. Perhaps they were surprised someone bothered to answer the door. Several seconds pass, and neither of them says a word. They just stand there like a couple of idiots.

"What do you need?" I ask.

"Umm … we're missionaries—"

"OK," I respond. "Bye." And I then proceeded to close the door firmly in their idiot faces.

After a few minutes, my son went back to the kitchen to get something, and looked out the window again. They were still standing there. What, were they in shock? Were they just confused? Or were they performing some sort of prayer or incantation to either save or curse my soul?

I like to think they were putting some kind of sign on my door-post, like those old hobo signs that hobos used to let other hobos know where they could get work or a good meal, or to watch out for a nasty dog and such. Maybe they were putting a warning to other proselytizers that there was a doomed non-believer inside … like a Satanist or *gasp* an atheist! Watch out, the warning would signify, the guy in this apartment won't let you finish your spiel. Best move on.

But seriously, why does this happen? Why must I be interrupted by stupid "missionaries" at my door? And seriously? Missionaries? In the Midwest of the United States? Like there's the remotest possibility that there's anyone in this country who hasn't heard about JAYZUS and his wonderful plan for the salvation of my soul and the disappearance of my cash and my ability to think coherently.

Now, I used to be more polite to these people when they came around. I mean, I understand they have their beliefs and they probably really do think they're helping somehow. But you know what? I don't care.

I don't begrudge anyone their personal beliefs, no matter how far out they might be. But the minute you decide you have to go around and push your stupid superstitions on complete strangers, then you've lost the right to politeness. If you want to go hold a meeting—put up flyers or web ads or whatever and invite people to come talk about your beliefs, then great. If you want to go on the internet and find people who are interested in philosophy, theology, discussions about gods and the origins of the universe and other such topics, then that's OK, too. You can even go strike up a conversation with someone at a coffee shop or someplace public, as long as they don't mind. If you want to go out into the public square and chant about Krishna, Buddha, Jesus or whatever, I'm fine with that. Have fun doing it. I'm all about freedom of expression. Put up religious art … as long as it's not on public property. 

But, if part of your "calling" is to pester total strangers who have expressed no interest in you or your beliefs at their private residences, then fuck you and your stupid imaginary sky friend. You'll get the same respect and consideration from me that you've shown to me, which is to say none.