Someone knocked on the door last evening and, of course, I knew straightaway that it had to be C.W. I was feeling a little bored so playing along with him promised some relief from the tedium. Sure enough, he was in the form of a door-to-door salesman, complete which a checkered sport coat, blue trousers, and a pair of scuffed brown shoes.
“May I interest you in the latest health breakthrough to sweep America?” he said, holding up a small box with “Sani-Dispence” emblazoned across the front in bright letters.
“Sure,” I said. “Come on in.” It was unnecessary as he had already barged into the room before I spoke.
“Thank you sir,” he said. Holding the box up, he adopted a voice so smarmy that Joel Osteen would have blushed with envy.
“Did you know that many modern diseases are spread by hand contact?” he said.
“I have heard this, yes,” I said.
“Are you as careful about germ control as you should be?”
“I thought so,” he said. Then he smiled. “You are in luck.”
“I have here a device that dispenses a powerful hand sanitizing liquid that is guaranteed to kill a hundred and ten percent of all germs that you would normally carry around on your hands.”
“A hundred and ten percent? Isn’t that a lot?”
“Yes, it includes germs you haven’t even come in contact with yet.”
Not wanting to spoil his momentum, I played along.
“How does it work?”
“That’s the beauty of it,” he said. Then he made a great show of opening the box and removing a clear bottle of “hand sanitizer” along with a plastic holder for the bottle. A electrical cord dropped from it.
“You just spread some of this miracle liquid on your hands like this,” he said, grabbing my hand and squirting a small mound of jell-like substance on it. Then he spread it around.
“Germ free,” he said.
I sniffed it. “Smells like alcohol to me.”
“Ah, but I’m not finished.”
He made an elaborate show of walking to the kitchen table, setting up the container, and plugging it in.”
“See,” he said as he moved his hand under the bottle’s spot and watching it automatically dispense a wad of the goo on his fingers. “All automatic. Your fingers never touch the container.”
“So you don’t have to touch the bottle that is going to dispense a hand sanitizing liquid that will free you from germs after you apply it?”
“Why yes,” he said and then stopped. He thought for a second and then went through the process of obtaining the liquid and spreading on his hands. He considered the process again and a troubled look came over his face.
“You, uh, don’t have to touch the bottle,” he said. “It’s automatic.” Then he looked at the apparatus again and then back at me. “You don’t have to touch anything in order to get the sanitizer on you hands.” He voice was growing weaker.
“Will your species buy anything if it is advertised properly?” he said. There was sadness in his manner now.
“Just about,” I said.