I think this whole thing springs from the fact that when finally, at the tender age of 11, I was allowed to stay home alone when mom ran errands, I was instructed NEVER to go to the door if someone knocked. To do so might result in my being kidnapped, mauled, or converted to Mormonism. Only scary people with horrible intentions would ever dare to knock on someone’s door when the mother and father of the household weren’t home, and if they looked harmless through the peephole, it was probably just because they were the front man for the serial killer hiding behind the front hedge. From my mom’s tone of voice I understood that this happened regularly to stupid children, and that she knew many unfortunate parents who had lost their little ones to the Front Door Monsters. At any event, the paranoia wormed its way into my brain, and to this day when I hear someone knock at the door and I’m not expecting it, my first instinct is to run to the bathroom and lock the door.

My fiance found this cute the first time it happened. We were in his apartment, hanging out and watching TV, when there was a knock-knock-knock on the door. I jumped up, ran into his bedroom, and peeked out, waiting for him to take care of it. The UPS guy had him sign for a package, and all was well. The second time it was a kid selling NFL cups for a school fundraiser. I didn’t know that, of course, and hid in the laundry room. After being cute-big-eyed into buying some cups, ChoiLoi told me I was a little bit weird.

Now he just thinks I’m crazy, but he’s slowly getting used to it. Today, the maintenance guys came by to check for bugs. We’re staying with awesome friends, but when you’re in a one-bedroom apartment, the hiding options are limited. What happens if they needed to check for bugs in the closet? There they’d find me, cowering in the dark, ipod in hand, ready to drop into the fetal position should they try to abduct me. “Oh, it’s OK,” I’d tell them, “There aren’t any bugs in here!”

Instead, I had to face them. There’s something eerie about people who you don’t know being in your living space, especially when they invite themselves. All the things that seems perfectly normal to you –the chinchilla in the kitchen, the two TVs, the giant cactus and disassembled hookah– are suddenly objects of attention and amazement. “Oh, yes, that is a chinchilla. He is cute. He does look like a squirrel-mouse. He does poop a lot.” I agree with everything they say. “I have noticed no bugs. I will let you know if I see anything. I do have your contact information.” I throw couch cushions back into place, fold up sleeping bags, try to make our “normal” look like everybody else’s.

The encounter, like every other one that I have experienced in my adulthood, ended normally, with the exterminators leaving having not exterminated a thing (not even me, mom!), but promising to do so should I ever need their services. I understand that the world is not actually out to get me, that there is not a serial killer hiding behind every front hedge, and that the pizza guy is not actually a kidnapper because I ORDERED THE PIZZA AND ASKED THEM TO COME FOR MY CONVENIENCE (as ChoiLoi points out each time). But there’s a certain comfort to having a bathroom door between you and the stranger in your house, a safety to it all that makes me grateful he doesn’t insist on making me get over my childhood fears. Maybe one day you’ll come visit…just make sure I’m not home alone, so someone will actually let you in.


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