Jerry Zezima, a Newsday assistant editor who writes a nationally syndicated humor column for his hometown paper, The Show More
In my 37 years in journalism, I have never believed that you shouldn't let the facts stand in the way of a good story. But I do believe that the bare facts can make for the best stories.
That was reinforced recently when a couple of appliance deliverymen told me about the many customers who have answered the door in the nude.
Because I am modest, and didn't want to get into legal trouble, in which case I would have to wear court briefs, I was fully clothed when Armando and Julio came over to deliver a new microwave.
"People may think our job is boring," Armando said after he and Julio had removed the old microwave and installed the new one in the kitchen. "But that's not always the case."
Like the time they encountered a huge snake while delivering a refrigerator.
"We brought it to a house that was close to the water," Armando recalled. "The lady was very excited about her new refrigerator. But first we had to go down to the basement to remove the old one. This basement had two doors leading outside. We started to move the old refrigerator when a big snake came out from behind it. This thing had to be 6 feet long.
"Julio and I ran toward one door," Armando continued. "The snake must have been scared, too, because it actually jumped toward the other door. The lady screamed, ran upstairs and went out the front door. She was in the yard, on the phone with her husband, saying she wasn't going back in the house until the snake was gone."
The snake got out, the woman got her refrigerator, and Armando and Julio got a good story.
But the naked truth is that the really good stories involve not snakes, which shed their skin, but humans, who expose theirs by shedding their clothes.
"The first time it happened," Armando remembered, "a naked woman opened the door. I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to look down, so I just kept making eye contact."
"Did she know you were coming over to make a delivery?" I asked.
"Yes," said Armando. "She got a call saying we would be there in about half an hour. You got a call, didn't you?"
"Yes," I said. "As soon as I hung up, I put some clothes on."
"Some people are strange," Armando said. "They know we're coming over and they don't bother getting dressed."
Armando estimated that he and his partner -- sometimes Julio, sometimes another guy -- have encountered nude customers 10 times.
"And not all of them have been women," he said. "Three have been men. I definitely didn't look down then."
The first naked woman went into the other room to watch TV while Armando and his partner did their work, after which she paid them and they left.
"It was strictly business," Armando said. "But there was this one woman -- she was beautiful -- who answered the door dressed very professionally, in a business suit, when we came over to deliver a refrigerator. It wouldn't fit into the kitchen, so she had to get another one. We went back three or four days later and this time her husband wasn't home. Right after we got there, she changed into this hot outfit, with tight shorts and a very tight top. She wanted me to go into the bedroom to smoke weed with her and maybe do something else. I said, 'I can't do that, we're not allowed, and besides, I'm happily married, but thank you anyway.' You see some crazy things on this job."
Julio, who also is happily married, didn't have much to say, so I asked him if he liked his job.
"Yes," he said. "Except if there are snakes."