As I Was Saying…

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The Witness Index of Mellowness

June 16, 2008

DISCLAIMERS:

  • Not a single one of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of friends and acquaintances I have made through the years has been a Jehovah’s Witness.
  • I have no knowledge of (or interest in) the inner workings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses who have come to my door have never interested me in or convinced me of anything.
  • The “Witness Index of Mellowness” is a product of my own imagination.

So, what’s my point here today? It’s pretty simple, really. A couple of JW women came to the door at about 9:00 this morning. I didn’t want to listen to them, and I managed to end their visit in less than one minute. I did it without insults, threats or rudeness and without agreeing to give them my name or to buy their magazine. The conversation went basically like this:

JW: Good morning.
ME: Good morning.
JW: (holding up copy of The Watch Tower and pointing to a headline about Noah) Have you ever wondered why God would want us to know about something that happened thousands of years ago?
ME: Oh, The Watch Tower. You folks are Jehovah’s Witnesses. You should know that I have my own church.
JW: Do you read the Bible in that church?
ME: (closing door and waving cheerfully) Oh, yes. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day.

For a guy like me, this was a pretty darned mellow way of handling the situation.

Witness Index of Mellowness: 10.

I was especially struck with the contrast between my behavior this morning and the way I handled a similar situation 30 years ago, in the days when no one ever described me as “mellow.”

It was Memorial Day Weekend 1978, and Marge and I were visiting our friends Clay and Judy in Beaumont, Texas.

Clay and I had spent Friday evening methodically working our way to the bottom of a liter bottle of Jack Daniels. We had finally called it a night and staggered to bed at about 4:00 am. I didn’t sleep well because it was hot. Beaumont sits on the Gulf, and Clay and Judy had no air-conditioning. I woke up at about 8:30, dripping with sweat. The light from the window hurt my eyes, and there was a green lizard hanging on the screen.

At 9:00 I was still the only one up. I felt bad and probably looked worse. I had bloodshot eyes and greasy hair. I hadn’t showered, shaved, or even brushed my teeth. My breath could have killed that little lizard.

I was sitting on the living room couch, holding my head and smoking a cigarette, when the doorbell rang.

I looked out the window and saw two women and a little girl on the doorstep. All of them, despite the heat, wore extremely modest and slightly old-fashioned dresses. I had a pretty good idea who they were and why they were calling.

A wild thought came into my mind, and I opened the door. The conversation went basically like this:

JW: Good morning, we’re…
ME: (interrupting and looking at my watch) I know who you are. You’re right on time. Come in.
JW: (looking nervously at her companion) Well, I don’t know that we…
ME: Aren’t you the Jehovah’s Witnesses?
JW: Well, yes, but…
ME: Then you must know who I am!
JW: I don’t think we…
ME: Of course you know! I am Satan’s emissary sent to test your faith! Now come in so we can get on with it!

Their eyes got big, and they backed away. One of the women picked up the little girl, and they ran down the walk back to the street.

Clay later told me that for as long as he and Judy lived in Beaumont, Jehovah’s Witnesses never came to the house again.

Witness Index of Mellowness: 0.

I used to tell this story with great amusement, but I don’t find it so funny anymore. Had I actually been anywhere near as superior to those women as I felt on that hungover morning, I wouldn’t have wanted to humiliate and terrify them. I would also have understood that, as a simple matter of civility, I had no right to do those things to them or anyone else.

The truth is that things like civility and mellowness come hard to the natural-born smartass. I’m thankful to have lived long enough for it to start to happen.

3 Responses to “The Witness Index of Mellowness”

  1. Cowtown Pattie Says:

    ROFLMAO

    I’m sorry but that 30+ year-old retort was perfect!

    Hey, the JW’s came knocking uninvited, as they do in every neighborhood. And some of them are so zealous, it’s hard to get rid of them.

    I have no compassion for the adults; however, the little kids are being brainwashed into a cult as far as I can tell. Then again, in this brave new world, there are worse things to be, I suppose, than a JW – say a Mormon teenage girl imprisoned in a polygamist compound near Eldorado, Texas.

    When I was a teenager and the JW’s would come to our front door, I always answered that we were atheists and could I give them some of our publications? That usually did the trick.

    Truth is, I am an atheist and have been since about age 8 or so. (Only I didn’t exactly know the word for a nonbeliever at that age.)

    And Beaumont without AC? Sheesh. Might take more than a liter of Black Jack to get me to sleep in that steam bath. Though, I did it plenty when I was a kid – no AC and living in Texas *grin*.

    I used to live on the Texas coast – in Port O’Connor. At night in the summertime, the breeze off the bay was nice, though.

  2. Pete Says:

    Well, maybe the story is still funny, Pattie. As for the Mormons, a couple of fresh-faced Brigham Young University students came to the door last summer. They introduced themselves as Elder This and Elder That.

    I couldn’t keep a straight face. I said something like, “I apologize for laughing, but I’m about 40 years older than you boys. I just can’t think of you as elders.”

    Things went downhill for them from there. I told them that I had owned a copy of the Book of Mormon for more than 40 years and had read it (all true, btw). They asked if I had any questions, and I assured them I did not. Then I sent them on their way.

  3. Anne Says:

    My funniest encounter with the JWs was many years ago, while visiting a friend who happened to be a former Catholic seminary student. He also just happened to be housesitting for one friend and babysitting another friend’s son for the weekend. I showed up for breakfast, and a pair of JWs shortly after. My friend was rubbing his hands in glee at the prospect of taking on a couple of JWs in his own field of expertise, the Bible. What luck!

    They started by making comments about our happy little family and we quickly corrected them: none of us were related and none of us lived in that house. We conceded happy though. They swallowed their confusion, but not for long, my friend led them on a very merry chase through the Bible, a copy of which he had handy. By the time they left they looked very confused indeed!

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