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Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Closing Door. By John von Daler

                           I am not good at noticing the closing of a door, the silent wave of a hand, or any quiet disappearances that transpire unwarned. So I did not notice their unheralded passing.

                There was almost an anatomical separation between the two types: the salesmen rang the bell at our front door and brought in to us products that supposedly would improve our lives: encyclopedias, brushes, cutlery, or clothes. At the back door the hobos knocked and received something of what we did not necessarily have to use ourselves. Thus our home, almost like a living body, both received and emitted regularly and naturally.
                My mother was jovial with the men at the front door; after all, they came year after year with their products. We got to know them by name and we even counted on them coming by when we needed a new hairbrush or a new paring knife.
                The men at the back, though they may have come past once a year or so, were anonymous, silent, even ashamed: Could the lovely lady spare a sandwich or a glass of water? Mother always gave them something - but without exchanging further pleasantries. This river that flowed past our door was supposed to stay within its banks; its life and ours were not supposed to mix. Thus we did not recognize them if they ever returned and they did not venture to remind us that they had received a salami sandwich on rye bread here about eleven months back. They left with a quiet thank you and disappeared.
                The front door was different. The Fuller Brush man would ring our bell and our day would stop. Mother would open the door with a smile and invite the man in. He would greet us by name and taking off his hat and coat he would fold out on our couch that marvelous suitcase full of compartment after compartment of sturdy, wooden brushes, for cleaning, for the hair, for eyebrows, for cars, for food, for any job you could imagine.
                Some of the most familiar of the salesmen even brought gifts. For years I had a bright, red fire engine, my favorite, given to me by a salesman who with sad eyes remarked that he had no wife and children and that it would please him no end if he could give me the little truck. Mother allowed it and I think she also received some fashionable little brush to be used in her boudoir. Of course we bought just a little more than usual and our family was combed and groomed to a T for months after that.
                I cannot remember when this flow of migratory men stopped. When did it become impractical both to buy and to give in person? I think it was long before the internet, or did I just grow up and leave home before the salesmen and hobos found other ways to live their lives? At any rate the change made our lives lose some portion of their contact with reality.

Don't close the door
on my book.
Open your world to
Click on the picture.
See for yourself.

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