Saturday Night. 9:03 PM. Chesapeake, Virginia. Dark and Stormy Night. 'Knock! Knock!' Visitors. I put down my current read. 'Novel Role for Aeromonas jandaei as a Digestive Tract Symbiont of the North American Medicinal Leech.' [ed. note: get out more] I look through my peephole and see an eyeball. I simultaneously laugh and fear. I figure it's Sauron, a homeless man seeking shelter, or one of my sister's friends. I crack open the door.
"Boo!" says an obese black man with ugly tie and cheap cologne. "Didn't scare ya did I?"
"No. I'm glad you're not the Dark Lord of Mordor."
Perplexation. Amusation. Continuation. . .of conversation. The man holds a bottle of pink fluid in my face.
"Do you know what is in this bottle?
"No, but I'm sure it'll kill me if I drink it. Do you know what's in that bottle?"
More perplexation. "This is the best cleaning product money can buy."
He whips out a tattered sheet of paper which looks remarkably like one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Upon closer examination, I see a shopping list for Home Depot. . .in English. I hide my disappointment at not seeing household appliances in ancient Hebrew.
"Sorry, Buddy. But I just bought-this very morning-some cleaning supplies from Wal-Mart. Most of which I didn't really need."
"Ahhh, man," quoth the black man. "You sure? It's the perfect chemical."
"No, chicle is the perfect chemical. That's what chewing gum is made of. Chicle is like squid, except chicle grows in trees and won't squirt you with ink. Nor will a chicle tree try to eat you should you fall overboard."
"Um. . .OK. . .Thanks, though. Oh. . .and God Bless you."
He picks his (still smoking) cigarette wedged in my window pane and trudges off into the night.