Thursday, October 08, 2009


Ever since I've moved away from my parent's house, I've lived either in grotty student housing, behind a controlled-access entryway, or on the other side of an inconspicuous doorway. I have rarely suffered the onslaught of door-to-door solicitation.

That just changed.

On Monday I got the "chocolate bars for kids" hard sell from a gang of precocious pre-teens. I was so entertained by their pushy ring-leader -- a little girl who yelled "SHUT UP!" at the boy who tried to muscle in on her sales pitch -- that I happily gave them my money.

Today was the "sponsor a third-world child" routine, pushed by the best salesman I've ever had the dubious fortune to meet. This is how he started:
"Hey, you're wondering why I'm standing at your front door. I'll give you $50 to punch me in the face! Seriously! No, I'm just kidding, only some guy down the street threatened to punch me in the face. Really! No, no, I'm only joking, that's not true. Anyway..."
When -- in response to a question -- I confessed that I don't watch television, he asked me who my favourite author was. "William T. Vollmann" came to mind first, and that's what I said, but by suspecting (correctly) that I had gone all highbrow capital-L Literature on him, he came back by saying:
"I'm a big fan of Vonnegut myself. Have you read any?"

"Oh...just 'Slaughterhouse Five' and 'Galapagos,' I'm reading some Nabokov right now--"

"Yeah, Vladimir! Great stuff! Anyway..."
This guy did such a fabulous tap-dance that it almost hurt to say no. But that's the thing about good salespeople...they're like fortune-tellers, instantly able to switch tracks and gloss over the subject they suspect you're most interested in. I'm sure that if I said I watched a lot of sports, he'd have been able to come up with a list of pretty obscure players.

Still, not many people can throw "Vladimir" at you.

Anyway, this makes me realize that -- for the first time -- my door will be a target for Hallowe'en trick-or-treaters. Small communities of anonymous condos must be GOLDEN for kids on Hallowe'en. But I've never handed candy out before and something about it...well...scares me.

I like the fact that I can't conveniently curl up and ignore the world in my house, but am I ready to face dozens of children? Do I know what to say to them? Do I know how much candy I'll need?

Right now I'm torn between "Hand out candy" and "Turn off the lights and read in the basement." I'm sure I'll waffle between decisions for a long time to come...


Raven said...

Suck it up and buy a jumbo box of candy and see what happens. :) We were all kids once and we all liked Hallowe'en, right? That's what happens when you have your own door to the street.

If you run out, turn the lights out and put of a sign saying "Sorry, no candy left." Shut down at 8PM, or whenever the activity dies down.

If you have leftovers and don't want them, I find co-workers are usually quite bribe-able.

Gary said... could do a Vampira or Elvira number! Thrill (or scare off) the little 'uns.

As for "Still, not many people can throw "Vladimir" at you" - by coincidence, the last two novels that I have read had this name prominently featured.

The first, "The Russian Debutante's Handbook," by Gary Shteyngart, has a Vladimir protagonist. The other, Elizabeth Kostova's "The Historian" - about Dracula - has an uber-dark Vlad as the villian. And I did not plan to read them in that sequence.

Both are good reading, by the way, although "The Historian" is slow due to its talky and descriptive narrative about Eastern Europe and its people & places.

Oh, another Halloween thought - give the kids healthy treats. Maybe they'll avoid you next year!