I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.
Unless you’re a neighbor who I know, Batman, or someone dressed as Batman, I will not answer the door if you come knocking.
You can pound and bang and scream and cry, but it’s no use.
By the time you get to the third knock, I’ll either be safely locked away in my Panic Room or so well hidden you’ll think no one is home.
Whatever it is you need, I can’t help you with.
Whatever you’re selling, I’m not buying.
And you have the 1999 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl BCS National Championship Game to thank for it.
Before that game, in which Tennessee beat Florida State 23-16 to claim the championship of the 1998 season, I would usually go to the door if there was a knock and never give it a second thought.
Sometimes it was a Girl Scout hawking cookies, or occasionally someone trying to get me to buy aluminum siding. Regardless, the interactions were usually pleasant and brief.
This night was different.
I had the house to myself (except for my miniature dachshund, Otis) and all the supplies I needed to get through the game – a case of Coors Light, a pack of Ruffles potato chips, one can of Easy Cheese American, one can of Planters dry roasted peanuts, and the number of the regional medical center so I could punch it in as I was having my heart attack.
I had just positioned myself on the couch (about 10 minutes before kickoff) when there was a knock on the door.
When I opened it, there were three smiling gentlemen gathered on my porch.
“Good evening! How are you tonight?” one of them asked.
“I’m good. And you?” one of me answered (and asked).
“Outstanding. We’re with Big Box Church and we were hoping we could come in and talk to you for a bit.”
This, of course, was not going to happen. I was about to get my drink on and watch football, but even if I was only planning to sit back and enjoy an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” I was not in the mood for a sermon.
“I’m not interested, but thanks,” I said. “The Fiesta Bowl is about to kick-off and I’m gonna watch that tonight.”
Another member of the front porch-squatters smiled broadly.
“Wow,” the broadly smiling one said. “We enjoy football, too.”
Then things got awkward.
“Well,” I said. “If you leave now you can get home in time to watch it.”
Not the most subtle hint, but at this point I was agitated.
“Well, we can talk while we watch,” the broadly smiling one said.
Then – and I kid you not – the dude actually put a foot over the threshold and tried to come into my house.
“Whoa,” I said, blocking is path. “You need to leave.”
At that point I gave the guy a Heisman straight-arm to push him back and slammed the door.
I mean, there’s pushy, and there’s get your face punched pushy.
And from that day forward, I have never answered the door without first checking who it was and making sure they fell into the “approved” category.
Fortunately now we have a front yard which is covered in pea gravel, so the minute someone steps onto our property, there is the sound of shoes-on-pebble.
Charlie, our Sheltie, is the first to hear it and he immediately heads to the back porch.
The two cats retire to the drawers underneath the futon.
Mary retreats to the bedroom, and I drop to the floor and serpentine to the stairs leading up the Panic Room, which is an attic room redesigned as a place to hide from those promoting commerce or religion.
There are some disadvantages, of course. Namely, I haven’t had a Girl Scout cookie in years.
Otherwise, though, it works out quite well.
Even though I no longer drink alcohol or eat Easy Cheese, I can still watch a ballgame in peace, knowing that if someone comes knocking they will be completely ignored.
Unless, as I said, I look out the peephole and see that it’s Batman.
The door is always open for the Dark Knight.