Solicitors & Unicorns

I don’t really want to spend a whole lot of time here on TharpSter.Org reviewing movies.  That’s not to say I won’t do it though.  Sometimes, it becomes necessary to do so in order to vent another spark of verbal brilliance which periodically ignites between my ears, like when I walk on the carpeted floor while wearing socks and no shoes.

This last week for Christmas, I gave the CFO a DVD of the movie Despicable Me.  I personally wasn’t interested in watching the movie, however Wifey liked it a lot so I obliged.  As we watched it, I began to feel the sense of despair I felt the last time I did a DVD review.  Not wanting a life-sucking void to form in the living room again, I disengaged myself from the potential anguish of watching that movie and went off to read one of the books I had just received from my kids.

How’s that for a less than half-assed movie review?  Let’s move on to other things.

In my own perfect little world, I would love to post a sign on my front door advising that Girl Scouts and their thin mints are welcome, and all others should scram.  Nothing would make me happier than to advise a door-to-door profiteer / crusader that if they are going to ring the doorbell, they had better be ready to back up about 20 feet to the sidewalk to make their pitch to me from there.  I do not intend to keep the dogs from greeting them at the door.  Any crotch sniffing or leg humping that should happen because of their ill-advised decision to ring my doorbell is not really my problem at all.

I have already been sufficiently accosted in my 42 years by every sort of plan, scheme, and contrivance to liberate me of the grayish-green pieces of paper in my wallet.  If I want to set the said portraits of various statesmen of this great country of ours free, I will go do it myself.  Do not come to my door with your magazine subscriptions, automotive maintenance plans, and water analysis kits hoping that TharpSter will invest in your snake oil.

Fortunately I don’t have to post a sign.  Whenever someone knocks on the door or rings the bell, the first audible response back to the unfortunate soul who just committed such an act ranks second only to the sound of a shotgun shell being jacked into its chamber.  That sound is the menacing and intimidating bark of our Pit Bull Hope.

Here at TharpSter.Org, we have the process for handling visitors at the door down to a science.  Step one in this process sets off a chain reaction of events over the next several minutes which will evoke a plethora of emotions from those of us who inhabit the compound, and those who don’t.  Naturally, step one involves the ringing of the doorbell.

Once the generic tone of your standard doorbell resonates throughout the house as it bounces off of the tiled floors and vaulted ceilings, Hope begins her bark.  It’s not inviting.  It’s not warm.  It’s not friendly.  The canine warning to the unannounced visitor has now planted a seed in the mind of the young merchandiser that there will be one additional challenge to hocking their crap here.

As she barks, those of us inside the compound don’t make an effort to quiet her.  We don’t want the guest here anymore than she does.  I calmly and slowly walk to the door, and just before I open it I yell into the living room loud enough for the visitor outside to hear my orders.  “Someone hold that beast back!  I don’t need another lawsuit on my hands!”  Seed number two has been planted in the solicitor’s head.  There have been issues before.

Tharpster Guard DogsUnbeknownst to our hapless visitor, the dogs cannot even approach the front door unless I allow it.  That little trick comes by way of a few seeds I planted in their little doggy skulls several months ago.  The dogs take up a position on the couch where they can see the front door.  Hope continues to bark.  My son takes a position next to Hope to make it look like he’s holding her back.

With everyone in position, I open the door all the way.  Hope continues to bark and adds in a growl or two.  She licks her chops as if she’s reading the menu.  This causes the pupils of the poor soul at the door to dilate to twice their normal size.   Seed number three has been planted.

Now that I have full control of the situation, I use the culmination of my verbal brilliance combined with my exacting control of the English language to inquire as to the nature of the visit.  “What?!?!”

With the fourth seed successfully planted, I let them throw their pitch at me.  Just a few weeks ago, a young gentleman was there to sell me some miracle household cleaner.  He said the stuff was so good that it took the black out of Michael Jackson.  As humorous as that claim was, I just wasn’t interested.  I use Mr. Clean for the floors as well as a model for my hairstyle.  When I told him as much, he attempted to give me the guilt trip.  “Oh, you’re going to be like your neighbors, huh?”  He then went on to suggest the reason I didn’t want to buy from him was due to some racist undertones.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last year with Hope in the house, it’s the fact that dogs will key off of the behaviors and energies of people.  If you show dogs you’re afraid of them, they will sense it.  If you show dogs you’re the boss, they will follow your orders.  If you are confrontational, or on edge, they will mirror that same behavior.  Hope is no different.

“Fine.”  I said.  “Does this cleaner you’re selling get blood stains off of a porch?”  With the door still wide open and the growling dog still in full view of the solicitor, I turned around to my son and barked an order at him.

“Boy, get my checkbook.”  In a very animated fashion, my son released his fake grip on Hope and walked away from her to carry out my instruction.  Hope jumped off of the couch and got as close to the front door as I would ever allow her to get.  She continued to bark and growl.

When I turned around back to the young salesman, he was gone.  Those door-to-door salesmen are pretty fast when properly motivated.

Aside from having fun with unwanted visitors, I’ve really come to appreciate Hope’s protective behavior about the joint.  There have been times where such behavior was unwarranted, however those events have been few and far between.  On those occasions, we corrected the behavior.

Just the other night, we had one of those instances where Hope took on the persona of a mean guard dog.  The only problem was that we weren’t too sure as to why.  At about 1:30 am, I was drifting in and out of consciousness in bed.  Having spent the entire day trying to fight off the symptoms of a sinus infection, I was having a problem getting a decent night’s rest.  As I drifted off, I heard a high pitched voice that I didn’t recognize.

Obviously it wasn’t in my head because Hope began barking from the living room.  The CFO and I jumped out of bed and went to the source of the commotion.  We looked out the front door and the windows which face to the front and found nothing.  Either Hope was dreaming, or she heard something at the door.  None the less, there was nothing there so we went back to bed.

Twenty minutes later, the same thing happened again.  I heard the voice and then Hope began to bark.  Just as before, we reacted the same way and found nothing.

Maybe it was just a cat outside mocking my beloved pit bull.  Stupid cat.

Do you remember the movie review I alluded to up above?  You know, the review about Despicable Me that wasn’t really there?  Shortly after watching the DVD, my son created a ring tone from it for the CFO’s Motorola Backflip.  That’s a cell phone for those of you who may not be familiar with it.  I’m no big fan of the thing, but Wifey and the Boy seem to like theirs, so I’ll dispense with my opinions about it.

The ring tone the Boy created comes from the following scene of Despicable Me.

Isn’t that cute?  Once the tone was loaded on to her phone, Wifey set it as her text and email alert.

As a reminder to those of you who know this phone, and an insight to those who don’t, allow me to tell you about one of the features of this phone.  Since it’s a smart phone (I use that term loosely where this phone is concerned), you have to buy a data plan with it.  It would only be logical that if you’re going to pay a monthly charge for a data plan, you should use it.  Wifey has her primary email address feeding into this particular phone.  Sadly enough, she gets spam on it.

Every night, she plugs it in at the kitchen counter near the front door and charges the phone.

Here’s a little tidbit you may or may not be aware of.  Spammers don’t keep banker’s hours.  In fact, spam has been known to fly at all hours of the day.

Did you know that spam has been known to land on smart phones in south central Texas at approximately two in the morning?

Did you know that smart phones which have customized email alerts which depict little girls pining for stuffed unicorns are capable of bringing out the territorial and protective behavior of a sleeping pit bull?

Yeah, it took us a day or two to figure that one out too.

Randy Tharp

TharpSter is a husband to one woman, a father to two kids, a master to two dogs, an occasional cubical occupant, and unable to make up his mind on an adequate theme for this website.

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