The occasion: A planning meeting for an upcoming Orthodox clergy conference.
The players: Father Hierolambos, a logistics expert who has done this a hundred times before; Father Kephalos, the conference organizer and head honcho; Father Andreas, whose parish is hosting the meeting (for the first time); Mark, a volunteer; Sally, a volunteer.
(Our fly buzzes in at the end of the opening prayer.)
Fr. Andreas: . . .ages of ages, Amen.
(Everyone sits down.)
Fr. Kephalos: Thank you all for coming today. Hopefully we can get a lot of planning done so this conference will come off smoothly. Who wants to start?
Sally (tentatively): I have a question about the nametags.
Fr. Keph: That’s Father Hierolambos’s department.
Fr. Hierolambos: Yes?
Sally: Okay it says here we order a hundred nametags for the priests. What size are they? Do we get the kind that pin on your shirt and you slip a little card into, or some other—
Fr. Hier (interrupting): If this is too hard, I can do it. I did it last year.
Sally: I don’t know if it’s too hard. I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to do.
Fr. Hier: What does it say in the instructions?
Sally (reading): “Order 100 nametags.”
Fr. Hier: Then do it.
Sally: So I can get the kind you pin on your shirt and stick the little card into?
Fr. Keph: Yes.
Fr. Hier (simultaneously): No.
Sally: So what kind should I get?
Fr. Hier: Really, it’s no problem for me to do this. I did it last year and it worked out perfectly. I was just hoping I could delegate some of this and not do so much myself.
Sally: I’m happy to do it if I just know what it is I’m doing. What kind of nametags should I order?
Fr. Hier: We’ve always ordered them from Nametags Unlimited in Irkutsk. Call them—
Everyone else (interrupting): Irkutsk?
Fr. Hier: Yes. I’ll give you the number. Call and talk to Dmitry. They will mail them to the synod, and we’ll mail them to you.
Sally: I don’t speak Russian.
Fr. Hier: Well, find somebody who does speak Russian, and have them call Dmitry. Tell him what the nametags are for, and you want the same thing as last time, only the larger size, and not just all red this time, but some red and some blue.
Sally: How many red and how many blue?
Fr. Hier: Maybe I’d just better do this.
Sally: Excellent. You do it, Father. (aside, sotto voce, to Mark) Yes!
Fr. Keph (pretends not to have noticed): Who’s next?
Fr. Andr: Do we provide a driver and car for his Beatitude, or just a car, and he brings his own driver? Does it matter if we rent a car, or just borrow one from somebody in the parish?
Fr. Keph: What does it say in the instructions?
Fr. Andr (reading): “Arrange for transportation for his Beatitude.”
Fr. Keph (hesitantly): Well, I’m not sure—
Fr. Andr: I can borrow a car from Deacon Steven. He has a nice Crown Royal and keeps it in excellent condition. Is that okay?
Mark (aside, sotto voce, to Sally): I assume he means Crown Victoria?
Sally (sotto voce): Have you ever seen Deacon Steven drive?
Fr. Keph: Yes, I’m sure—
Fr. Hier (interrupting): No.
Fr. Andr: Did you do this last year, Father Hierolambos?
Fr. Hier (completely misses the sarcasm): No. Bob Wilberforce at the synod did it.
Fr. Andr: Do you have his number? I can call him.
Fr. Hier: Fine—
Fr. Keph (interrupting): I’ve got it here. I think.
(He rummages in his briefcase.)
Sally (sotto voce, to Mark): Disorganized religion at its finest.
Fr. Keph (handing card to Father Andreas): Here you go.
Fr. Andr: Excellent.
Fr. Keph (trying to regain control of the meeting): Any other questions?
Mark: Yes, Father, I have a question. I’m in charge of arranging for volunteers for the—
Fr. Hier (interrupting): Tom Lebeschov. I’ll email you his number.
Fr. Keph: Any more questions?
Sally (hesitantly): I have another question, Father. I’m supposed to make a map with all the restaurants around the hotel. Would that be in walking distance, or in driving distance?
Fr. Keph: Walking—
Fr. Hier (interrupting): Within a 10 minute drive.
Fr. Keph: Not all of the fathers will have cars.
Fr. Hier: They can bum a ride from another priest.
Sally: So, 10-minute drive?
Fr. Hier: Yes.
Fr. Keph (completely beyond caring): Yes.
Sally (making fist-pumping motion): Yes! I got an answer!
Fr. Hier (wearily): Can we go now? I’m missing South Park.
Mark: Just one last question, Fathers. I was wondering if we had to—
Fr. Hier: You’re going to suggest changing something, aren’t you?
Mark (deflated): Never mind.
Fr. Keph: Well, then, let’s all stand for the closing prayer.
All (singing): More honorable than the Cherubim. . .
(At this point our fly buzzed out of the room.)
Copyright © 2011 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.