Posted by: Kate | July 29, 2014

Spastic Naked Scream

I have full respect for people who earn their living in the sales-and-commission world, whether they’re selling iPhones to entitled college kids or crystal meth to disillusioned yuppies, or anywhere in between. It’s not an easy lifestyle, and I am grateful that I have not had to spend large portions of my professional life there. And I have worked with some truly gifted, wonderful, personable, fantastic specimens of humanity whose resume happens to contain 27 synonyms for “convincing other people to spend their money on my stuff.”


Just like with the rest of humanity, there is a select subgroup — the vast minority of hemorrhoidally intrusive rays of sunshine who know exactly what I’m doing wrong with my life and how I can fix it — that creates far more unhappiness than any simple, polite, appropriate interaction can possibly begin to compete with.  These bastions of righteousness don’t just believe I will buy anything they happen to be selling, they know I will, as long as they can squeeze enough words in around the edges of the screen door. Whether it’s steaks out of the backseat of someone’s car, salvation in the form of My God (which comes with the free bonus edition of Why The Other Guy’s God is Wrong), or solar panels for my roof, every day for three weeks straight (I kept a tally sheet by the door for that one), someone out there knows what I need to fix my entire life, and they’re going to go so far as to bring that solution right to my doorstep.

Now, I’m not exactly a shrinking violet. I know how to make myself heard and understood, in nearly every situation…except when I am standing inside my front door, refusing to allow a stranger to enter my home. Sadly, “no” is rarely enough these days, no matter what volume or language I use:

  • English: No.
  • French: Non.
  • Spanish: No.

I can’t think why it torques me to have to express a word, repeat it, define it, use it in a sentence, define it again, and then snarl before they are ready to test the next word…And it doesn’t seem to matter whether the word is “no,” “go,” or a handful of choices I would prefer not to send back to school with the kids.

Of course, there’s always the logical response: “Just don’t open the door!” …but perhaps I’m on my own subilminal crusade to bring basic conversational respect and boundaries into mainstream society. Crazy talk, I know, but every worldwide movement has to start somewhere, right?

Maybe. Or maybe I just like to play mindgames with poor, unsuspecting folks, who might have thought that the most challenging aspect of my front door is simply reaching it, 18 stairs up from the street.

Whatever the underlying reason, the repeated failure of a simple “no” was steadily wearing away my will to open my door. It was time to come up with a new approach. Happily, my need to find a new approach coincided with the steady increase in the population of children in my home. I’m a firm believer that kids can handle chores from early on, and so why not have them start to earn their room and board a bit, just as soon as they’re able to handle the complicated procedure we call the Spastic Naked Scream. It sounds all technical and complicated, I know, and unfortunately I am bound by copyright restrictions to keep descriptions to a minimum.  But, trust me: once mastered, it is shockingly and delightfully effective in almost every situation.

So rather than chasing them away before they make it up the stairs, or allowing these uninvited guests to continueraising my blood pressure without even buying me a drink first, I will peek outside, then stage-whisper, “Uh oh! It’s… naked time!!”

Apparently, regardless of what they’re bringing to the door, their sales-training never entirely covers the possibilities at the Wallinga household. Our frequency of door-to-door sales, in all areas of commerce, have decreased significantly, and we almost never see any single individual return for a second attempt.

It’s a good system, though I do recognize its inherent limitation.  Emily is already 14, and while I am deeply grateful that she is not the kind of young lady who would willingly streak through the house under these circumstances, I also am mourning the loss of my loudest, most-spastic little minion.  Jacob is 10 (today! yikes!) and has abruptly reached the same “Naked Is No Longer Cool” phase, so I know that little Isaac, only four but he was just born like 20 minutes ago so I know my time of relying on my direct offspring is limited.  Perhaps by the time Isaac is ready to limit his naked-minutes-per-day, the technology of holograms and such will all me to set up a projection.

But, to be honest, I have to admit: I am really hoping there’s just no substitute for good old spazzed-out people (whether they’re in sales or childhood slavery, err, I mean, service).  Because if all else fails, it is a known and accepted fact that I lack the speed and grace necessary to execute a full Spastic Naked Scream routine more than a few times a month… but Willem, my 6’4″ hockey player, should be able to capture their undivided attention and that right quick.

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