So I’m sitting with my laptop on the sofa, writing pitches to magazines, with Millionaire Matchmaker on in the background (I’m fascinated by Rachel’s colourful hair, but I digress). Picture this scene of domestic bliss, if you will. There’s a fat bastard of a woodpigeon on the birdfeeder at the window, Coraline Cat is curled by my side, and I’m LOVING working from home. I don’t even have to wear socks, you guys!
Then the doorbell goes.
Is it the postman with a parcel of chocolate? (It happens!)
Is it someone with flowers? (That happens too!)
Or maybe, just maybe, Paul Rudd’s tracked me down. (Never going to happen, but still…)
No, it’s nothing fun, or boring, or wild.
It’s … Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I am an atheist. A shy, tongue-tied, softly spoken atheist. This cannot end well.
They’re polite, with earnest eyes and the dejected air that comes with repeated rejections. The kind of vibe that when I see it in bars and cafes screams “Don’t sit near me for I will latch on to you forever and EXPECT INTERACTION AND NOT JUST PLACATORY NODDING!” I have no wish to be disrespectful to them, but FFS, this is my home! This is where I get to eat cereals in my pyjamas for my lunch, watch crap TV, and write my guts out, not a place where I should be quizzed on my beliefs – facebook’s quizzical “What’s on your mind?” is as much of an interrogation as I can handle on any given day.
Since I’ve got my bra off, and I’m quite buxom (so you can tell what’s happening on the underwear front without the need for a squeeze), I poke just my head out from behind the front door.
“If this is something religious, sorry, I’m not interested. We’re all atheists here. Have a nice day.”
“Oh … can I ask why?”
I blink. The ‘not interested’ bit should do, surely? But despite my fondness for rude jokes, I’ve been raised to be polite, and the potential guilt of shutting the door without answering would leave me cringing for the rest of the day.
“I just … am. It makes sense.”
The lady of the pair steps forward a little, eyes wide, really seeking to engage. I. Cannot. Look. Away.
It’s as compelling and awkward and hellish as walking in on your mum wanking off one of your friends who turns out to be REALLY hung.
(DISCLAIMER: this has NEVER happened to me. I’m a writer, I make shit up. But not this encounter with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, unfortunately.)
“Well, why? Why that and not something else? Let me just ask you, what do you believe in, then?”
Wait, what? If I had the voice for it, I’d start belting out R Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Flyyyyyyyyyyy’, but I don’t and I don’t.
“Er, truth … and science.”
“Well then, can I ask this, where do you think we come from?”
I’m SOOOO tempted to talk about time-loops and sprinkle my speech with pseudo-physics and mini-quotes from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ about quarks (which are not, in this instance, cheese or the sound a chicken makes when it orgasms – I presume), but feel it would be cruel.
“Where we come from? Sperm and eggs.”
She tries to ask me something else, claiming she just wants to understand me (join the queue, love), but I’m getting a crick in the neck and I’ve had enough.
“Sorry, I have to get back to work, have a nice day.”
“Oh! Oh, alright…”
And the door is now SHUT, my posture is back to normal, and I can return to my cat, my cereal, my work, and my sofa – and Millionaire Matchmaker.
Gill Hoffs lives with her family and Coraline Cat in a horribly messy house in Warrington. Find her on facebook or as @gillhoffs on twitter, email her a dirty joke at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a clean comment at http://gillhoffs.wordpress.com/ ‘Wild: a collection’, her word-mixture of sea creatures, regret, and murder, is out now from Pure Slush. Get it here.
Gill’s often-sad sometimes-grisly nonfiction book about the Victorian Titanic will be published in January 2014 by Pen & Sword. Feel free to send her chocolate.