The Decorations Committee

At the Church, it was that time of the year, once again, to elect the members to decorations committee. And so, the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee met in the basement of the church. It was a pleasant, collegial group.

John Paul had been on the decorations committee as long as anyone could remember; and, by the way, he was on the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee since it’s inception two years ago. No one saw this as a conflict of interest. For one, everyone loved John Paul. For two, everyone trusted him. “I have been named after a pope, after all! But, not John Paul Two. I was named after John Paul One.” John Paul liked to joke, “That makes me the real number two.” All that was true, but not very funny.

The nominations for the decorations committee had already been submitted by the congregation at large; and the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee was, once again this year, pleased with all the qualified nominees.

John Paul wasn’t nominated this year. This, at first, was no big deal — and no big surprise — because John Paul, a month earlier, had stated he was willing to step off the decorations committee. “After all,” said John Paul, in an email to the congregation, “the point of all church committees to encourage inclusion, and discourage exclusion.”

But now, John Paul was silent, and sad, and even a little bit dejected or wounded. He seemed to have difficulty making eye contact with the group members as if he had let them down; or they, him. He wanted to be nominated; felt slighted becuase he wasn’t. He knew it; and everyone around the table knew it, too.

“Oh, I got an idea.” said Mary Theresa Francis — who is also on the decorations committee and the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee. She wrote a name on a paper and said, “There. I nominate John Paul.”

“Uhm, hold on,” muffled Thomas Matthew. Then he cleared his throat, and continued, “You can’t nominate John Paul after knowing that he was not nominated by the congregation at large, can you?”

“Sure I can,” claimed Mary Therese Francis, “I’m a member of the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee; I’m a member of the decorations committee, and, I’m also a member of the congregation at large. I have the right to nominate anyone who I want.”

Thomas Matthew felt slightly chided, and responded with a mild bit of vigor, “Mary Teresa Francis, the creation of the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee was created, two years ago, exactly to avoid this conflict of interest situation from happening. Because there were suspicions.”

“What suspicions? There are no suspicions! And, there is no conflict of interest,” Mary Teresa Francis rebutted, “the only reason John Paul was not already nominated was that,” she turned reassuringly to John Paul, “I’m sure, I’m very, very sure, that everyone else thought that somebody else would nominate you – would nominate him.”

This debate rambled on. No one swore; no one raised their voice too much; and no one, heaven forbid, took the lord’s name in vain. But, each person, in their own time, spoke. Everyone, that is, except John Paul who sat there, almost red-faced, and silent.

Finally, Thomas Matthew turned to John Paul and said, “you could end this right now, you know, by telling us that you don’t want to be nominated. Isn’t that, by the way, what you already agreed to?”

John Paul was silently holding his hands inside his sweater sleeves like a schoolboy who ventured outside without his jacket.

“He’s already nominated,” jumped in Mary Teresa Francis, “I just nominated him.”

“But you can’t do that.”

“Oh, yes I can!”

“Oh, no you can’t!”

“Oh, yes yes yes yes yes!”

“Oh, no no no no!”

“Oh, yes, GOD DAMMIT!”

Everyone was silent. What to do? How to salve this? And god, someone had said, “damnit!” And dammit, some had said, “god!”

Finally, John Paul cleared his throat and make out the words, “well, I mean, I think, I mean, we should just go with the nominations as they are now, right?… and… and… I have been nominated.”

The meeting broke up, the elections for the decoration committee were held, and the congregation voted. And, as is church tradition, every nominee was elected.

That Christmas, some said the decorations were the best ever; some said that they were horrendous.

But what was revealed, what was confirmed by Easter, was that Mary Teresa Francis and John Paul had been stealing communal wine and holding all night poker games for the decorations committee. And that weekly, for the past two years, often in the missionary, Thomas Matthew and John Paul’s wife have been meeting to fuck.

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