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Darrell Huckaby - Salesmen are coming out of the woodwork

I guess unsolicited solicitation is a necessary evil of the free enterprise system. I know it has been around as long as I have. When I was a kid I was a heck of a solicitor. I would try to sell anything, "try" being the operative word.

Remember those ads they used to run in the back of comic books and Boys' Life Magazine? You could earn a coaster wagon or new bike in no time by sending away for a set of greeting cards to sell. I fell for that one over and over and over, but all I ever earned was a switching from my mama for continuing to order the cards, which she wound up pawning off on her friends - or paying for herself.

Some people sold salve - or tried to. I never went down that road because I couldn't see myself standing on my neighbor's doorstep explaining all the benefits she would derive from using salve in places that a 10-year-old kid had no business talking to a grown woman about anyway.

One time I needed some extra spending money for the fair and stole a couple of packs of my daddy's Winston cigarettes. I sold them to the high school kids at the bus stop for a dime apiece. You don't even want to know about the outcome of that little business endeavor.

So, yeah. I sold a lot of stuff when I was a kid, and sometimes the solicitations weren't even for my own benefit. Sometimes I was taking part in fund-raisers for a school group or some other organization. When I was a Cub Scout we would "take orders" for Krispy Kreme doughnuts. They went for 50 cents a box and everybody on my street would order a box, if I got to them first.

One of the worst whippings I ever got was for eating a dozen doughnuts that were supposed to go to Inez Buckalew, my next door neighbor, and then telling my mama that she changed her mind and didn't want them.

Well, here I am now, a grown man, and I am still confronted with solicitations every day. Every child I know - and I know a lot of children - seems to be selling something these days. Band fruit, cookie dough, scented candles, cheesecakes - you name it and there is an organization out there trying to sell it.

Folks call on the phone at supper time wanting to sell me everything from time-shares to oceanfront property in the desert. Every time I log on to my e-mail account there are Arab sheiks and London businessmen trying to take my money - and an awful lot of people who are very, very concerned about my love life, and willing to sell me a variety of miracle drugs and herbal remedies guaranteed to improve it.

My lovely wife Lisa screens those and deletes them before I can respond. Saves me a lot of money. We won't go into what it saves her.

Snail mail is the same. Every day my mailbox is crammed full of offers from people wanting to sell me something - or loan me money. "You are pre-approved for half-a-million dollars, to be paid back in easy installments - $12 a month for 7,000 years with interest compounded hourly." You know what I'm talking about. You get them, too.

Well, in the Wednesday mail I got an unsolicited solicitation to top all unsolicited solicitations. A woman I used to go to church with wrote me a personal letter trying to sell me a funeral.

Now, I realize I have had a tough year. What hair on my head that hasn't turned loose has turned gray, and even though I can no longer grow hair on the back of my head I can grow it in my ears with no problem. I have to rely on trifocals in order to see. My hearing is on the wane and my belly has expanded considerably since last Christmas - and I have developed a little bit of a hitch in my giddy-up and I've lost the zip off my fastball and we've already discussed the performance enhancers.

But still, y'all. I didn't know I had one foot on the grave and another on the proverbial banana peel. For goodness sakes.

It would have been one thing if this solicitation came from a total stranger, but this was from a person who sees me on a regular basis, and after reading her letter I couldn't help but wonder, "Does she know something that I don't?"

Well I hope not.

I didn't throw her letter away, though. I'm keeping it at least until after the Capitol One Bowl is over. If our defense looks as bad as it did against Georgia Tech last week, I just might avail my friend of her services.

If you run across somebody trying to sell hemlock, send them my way?

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.