At last, the story can be told!
Yesterday (Feb. 11) marked the 10th anniversary of my father's fatal heart attack. Time has erased much of the sting, but every day I find myself blurting out one Dad phrase or another. He lives on in my writing and in the grandson he never knew. In Marshall County he is still remembered for his 17 years as a Cub Scout leader, his work as a church elder, and his membership in the Kiwanis Club service organization. But the Freedom of Information Act now permits me to divulge one of the humanitarian acts of which he was proudest.
Sometime in the latter stages of the pre-"Do Not Call List" era, my parents received an unsolicited phone call from a high-powered salesman for tilt-in replacement windows and set up an appointment for a sales pitch.
When the salesman arrived, he was obviously using the teacher's edition of the Salesmanship 101 textbook. Novices would have been waving brochures and graphs, but chitchat and bonding were the first order of business. With military precision, he allocated just the right amount of time to mustering a semi-sincere interest in my parents' hobbies. You know how it goes. ("Recreating Great Aunt Matilda's collection of Fabergé World's Fair spittoons? It's a small world! I've always dreamed of recreating Great Aunt Matilda's collection of...")
Only then could he proceed to the numerous virtues of the wonder product. Replacement windows would save money, save the environment, erase the federal deficit, and preempt Toyota from ever having accelerator problems. If my parents invested in the windows, they would assuredly be the envy of the neighborhood, the talk of the town, the epitome of modernity, the source of the saleman's kids' college tuition, etc.
It's a pity that the Almighty chose not to endow replacement windows with souls, because they would surely have been preached into heaven that day.
Of course the salesman felt compelled to point out that time was of the essence. My parents would have to act quickly -- before winter set in, before interest rates rose, before some rival replacement window salesman got their names...
After a picture-perfect presentation, the salesman whipped out his order pad. "Now, how many windows can I put you down for?" "None," said my father.
"Excuse me???" gasped the salesman, thinking he had misheard.
"I don't want any windows. I never intended to buy any."
"Why, the very idea! What do you mean dragging me out here and wasting my time under false pretenses?" sputtered the shell-shocked salesman.
With a curmudgeonly panache that would have made his own father proud, Dad explained, "I consider it my good deed for the day. I figured whatever time I could keep you tied up here, it would be that much less time you would be worrying the h-e-double-l out of someone else!"
Too mad even to avail himself of a Fabergé World's Fair spittoon, the salesman unceremoniously vacated the premises. The "replacement door" did not hit him on the way out. Apparently Mr. Walking Testimonial didn't use replacement windows himself, because his car sure seemed to have a stuck accelerator.
I miss you, Dad.
Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.