Milkshakes and Missionaries, from the 2013 Archives

Foreword: a revised piece from 2013. The pandemic brought an end to door-to-door missionaries. I know Phil misses them, but I don’t. It’s been several years since I’ve subjected my body to one of those DQ concoctions. Digestive systems age and make their own rules. The proselytizers, I’m sure, will return.

Spring unfurling, Denver 2022

My stomach was doing flips. See, I know better than to have one of those Dairy Queen blizzard things. Knowing better never stopped anyone from doing what they want to do, however, and it didn’t stop me.

I’m a bit embarrassed by my occasional Dairy Queen cravings: in my mind, it’s sort of lowlife, much like frequenting 7-11. I made an emergency stop at a 7-11 once with a friend who looked around and said, “Wow, we’re back in America now.” If you haven’t been to a 7 -11 for years and then go to one, you’ll get that.

But I love those overkill shakes that probably cause cancer and it was almost my birthday and I’m in complete denial about my dairy allergy. I do not have one. My stomach, however, wasn’t convinced. So I was grumpy when the doorbell rang, but luckily, I could see who it was and it wasn’t for me.

“Honey, the Jehovah Witnesses are here,” I shouted.

“Oh, great!” Phil replied and came rushing downstairs to open the door, cheat notes in hand.

I got out of the way and out of sight, choose not to be involved in such encounters. I opened the medicine cabinet and stared at the possibilities: the idea of swallowing that poisonously pink stuff made my stomach flip again.

“Good afternoon! What can I do for you?” I heard Phil say. I could tell he was rubbing his hands together gleefully.

The Witnesses started on their prepared statement. In a few moments, Phil said, “tell you what. I’ll trade you copies of your scripture for mine, how’s that?”

The Witnesses stuttered.

I thoughtfully examined a bottle of Tums that expired in 2009. How much harm could it do? And those pain pills from my dental surgery two years ago. I kept them, because who knows when you might slice off a finger in the kitchen? I dropped both into the trash. Still nothing for my alarmed digestive system.

Phil was reading his list of absurdities from the Bible. “Exodus 21:7 says I can sell my daughter into slavery. So do you agree with that? Well then, how can you believe some parts but not others? How do you decide which parts really are the word of God?”

My husband didn’t find these scriptures himself. He heard them on West Wing years ago. The embellishments were all his though. He loves this stuff. You should see him with the Mormons. He has the dirt on Joseph Smith. Tell you the truth, I feel sorry for the proselytizers when they come to our door.

I passed a pair of Mormon missionaries on my walk through the neighborhood a few days ago. “Excuse me, ma’am, do you know anyone who needs help today?”

Huh, I thought, interestingly oblique way to put it. I almost directed them to my house but looked at their fresh young faces and relented. It would have been cruel.

“Nope,” I answered cheerfully, “don’t know a soul around here who needs help today.”

They gave me an odd look but decided not to engage. Smart boys.

Dairy Queen is a habit left over from my working class childhood, when it was a major treat to get root beer floats at the A & W on U.S. 1. I’m righteously proud of being working class. I even harbor enduring hostility toward rich people, an attitude that must be written into blue collar DNA. Class distinctions in America are as knotty as religious ones, everyone thinking their world is the One. An example of such differences was just beating a hasty retreat from my front door.

My stomach was still burbling. There wasn’t a damn thing in that medicine cabinet I could take. When I was greedily slurping that giant soft serve with chunks of fudge and caramel and nuts, I said to Phil, “it’s so worth it.”

Now, I’m not so sure. That’s life, ain’t it?

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7 Responses to Milkshakes and Missionaries, from the 2013 Archives

  1. normando1 says:

    I love this piece! Not least, of course, because I’m a featured actor. Thanks for making me sound so snappy and smart. A couple of months from now it’ll be time for another DQ expedition. Too bad we won’t be able to do it with the top down.

  2. Jana says:

    I’m confused about a proud working class advocate looking down on 7/11. Where would I ever get Slurpies for my granddaughters?

    • dubrava says:

      Jana, so funny! I revised some of the lowlife references out of DQ because of your original comment about that in 2013. What, now I have to be kinder to 7-11 too? It is true, of course, that my working class sentiments conflict with my snobby inclinations at time. I’ll admit, granddaughters have to have Slurpies.

      • Jana Clark says:

        I can’t imagine what I said in 2013! Where do you hide the archives? Hopefully I was consistent!

        • dubrava says:

          Jana, in the search box, put Milkshakes and the original 2013 post comes up, along with all its comments. Yours was quite delightful! And you were totally consistent!

  3. deb r says:

    Hola Pat! A few thoughts from Mexico… there is a huge chain here called OXXO and it is exactly 7-11. Like you, I NEVER frequent them at home, but we have come to rely on them here for several things in every town we visit. First, they are able to break 500 peso notes. Although only about $25, most small vendors like the ones I get my daily fresh squeezed o.j. from, do not change large bills, also you need 5 peso coins to use any public restroom! Secondly, they sell small bottles of milk which no one else carries and I need it for my morning coffee!

    And, on the J.W. topic, I have sooo many stories–the main one about the home visits: I used to have a big brightly colored fish wind sock hung from my porch when I lived in Asheville, N.C. I usually tell the little guys in their black pants and white shirts that I am a Jew and don’t believe in Jesus, and that gets them gone, but in Asheville they told me I must be a Christian as I was displaying a fish.

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