A middle aged, clean shaven, blonde haired man with weather lines indented on his face, came to my door this morning. Knock, knock. I was still supine in bed, watching television like I do on most Sunday mornings. Before I heard the knock I was thinking about all the evils of television. I was wondering if the people who were always trying to sell the viewer something felt shame in their private lives. I was also thinking how everyone on television, with slight variations, looks the same. Television truly is a Pavlovian box. Knock, knock. I looked at my wife and asked her who the hell that could be. Knocking on our door this early on Sunday morning? Really?
My wife and I argued for a moment about who was getting up and since I was the one with clothes on, that person was me. My body is tight and old in the mornings, so I walked to the front door without the same urgency I felt. I had trouble adjusting my eyes and my hips were sore from a week spent sitting at work. Thousands of thoughts pushed each other around in my head. I was angry that I was being put through this.
He was wearing a gray suit (with a tie) and had a backpack on. His suit looked as if it had been rolled through dirt before he put it on. There were what looked like cigarette marks on the sleeves. He had a hardback book under his arm. The opposite of perfection is eccentricity and this character standing on my front doorstep seemed to be the personification of what it looks like to be an eccentric. When he reached out to shake my hand, I was hesitant. His hands were dirty and I was afraid of catching something and getting sick.
I’m a tramp, he said.
Ok, I was perplexed.
Do you know what a tramp is?
Do you know what a wayfarer is?
Not this early in the morning, I replied while holding on to my door incase he tried to push his way in.
Well, I’m a wanderer. My home is what you see and I walk, with little concern for where I end up. I started out in Norway and am now here. I will end up back in Norway at some point.
Ok, I thought and curiously nodded my head.
Anyways, I was walking around your neighborhood and was struck by your beautiful house.
Thank you, I said.
Yes, sure, it is beautiful, such a nice garden in the front. I also love the colors of your house. Looks like you spend a lot of time caring for your home.
Thank you, I replied. Where the hell was he going with all of this? When was he going to ask for money? Does he realize there is a no solicitation law here? Should I tell him you can’t just go up to people’s houses and knock on their doors?
Your neighborhoods are so much different than the ones we have in Norway. Here it is like a ghost town, like no one lives in these homes. That is why I noticed your home. Seems like there is still some life here. I notice that American suburbs are a very frozen kind of thing. At least that is what I feel like when looking at most of the homes. But I did not feel frozen when I looked at your house. It was unexpected.
I was not sure how to respond. I didn’t want to engage. I just wanted for my bed, my naked wife and my tv. And then I was caught off guard.
Do you feel free?
Free, just curious if you feel free?
Well, you have a nice home and America is the land of the free (he chuckled), so do you feel free?
Do I feel free?
Look man, I appreciate your compliments about my home but I’m tired and I don’t feel like really getting into this. I work a lot all week and Sunday is my morning to just chill out so if you don’t mind I need to end this conversation right now.
Oh, well I’m sorry young man, I did not mean to be a bother. I was just walking past and as I was looking at your home I wanted to ask you this question. In Norway we are raised to think that Americans are free but I don’t see freedom in the faces of your people. No one will even really talk to me about it. But that is a good enough answer I suppose. I apologize for bothering you young man. Back to bed you go!
And just like that, the self-described tramp walked away. I watched as his large backpack swung up and down on his back. It was almost as if he was skipping. He looked back over his shoulder at me and smiled. I shut and locked the front door and slowly made my way back into bed.
Someone trying to sell you something? My wife was looking at her iPhone as she asked me this.
Yeah, just someone trying to sell something. I didn’t want to get into it.
I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and pulled her naked body in close to me.
On television some balding white man, in a nicely pressed blue suit was talking to a panel of other white men and one black man all wearing wrinkle free suits with ties. They were talking about the latest military campaign in the Middle East and how important it is to do whatever is necessary to protect American’s freedom at home.