You never know where some conversations might lead, especially when conducted via email. Please allow me to share one such instance from this very weak. I warn you, however, that this tale is not for the faint of heart. If you are easily offended or disgusted, you will want to stop reading now.
For those of you who are still curious about where this might lead, I shall continue. On Thursday nights, I and some other men are involved in a boys’ youth apostolate. We get the boys together for dodgeball and try to mix in a little Catholic formation. In the whole grand hierarchy of the apostolate, I am quite content to be just a cog. I am happy, generally speaking, to follow the lead of our “President.” The Pres takes care of all our paperwork, insurance, meeting facilities, fundraisers, etc. In the grand scheme of things, he does a lot of work; I just show up.
The Pres sent an email earlier this week notifying all of us cogs that Brother M was interested in coming to our meeting Thursday, and by the way it was sports and awards night, the last meeting of the current campaign. Cog E replied with a suggestion for how we might put Brother M to work, but also noting that we would not be able to use the school gym next week because of a meeting that has been scheduled for kindergarten parents. Cog E is kind of like a super-cog. He actually has responsibilities above and beyond us other cogs. Cog E, for instance, is the only cog capable of activating our emergency broadcast in the event that we have to cancel one of our scheduled meetings.
I, with all the wisdom of a mere cog and having just looked at my calendar, noted that next Thursday is the fourth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul the Great, and since we were banished from the gym, we might be able to do the sports part of the evening outside on the lawn, but the 10-day forecast predicts rain. The Thursday after that is Holy Thursday, and most of us would rather attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. We aren’t scheduled to meet on Holy Thursday anyway, but if we cancelled next week, we would then be three full weeks behind the schedule promulgated by The Pres back in September (Cog E had to cancel some earlier meetings due to bad winter weather and an elementary school open house).
Cog E was impressed by my use of the words “banished” and “promulgated.” I had no idea he was so easily impressed.
The Pres now wrote back with a new schedule for the last campaign of the year. We would meet next week at the Parish Center, replacing the sports segment with a rainy day activity that he’s been keeping up his sleeve. We would not meet on Holy Thursday, but would meet the next four Thursdays, concluding with a cookout at a local park on Saturday featuring chili dogs and orange Crush. On Sunday, we would all have gas. His revised schedule included dates, but he placed Holy Thursday on April 7th, rather than April 9th.
I had to take the bait. I wrote back that I preferred my Holy Thursday to fall on Thursday and did not agree with moving it to Tuesday. It was still trying to cope with moving Ascension Thursday to Sunday. And, of course, I had to note that my gas would not wait until Sunday.
Cog E thought this was all great fun, and chimed in that his doctor had identified the cause of his gas, and unfortunately it was oxygen.
At this point, the whole discussion thread was spiraling dreadfully out of control into uncharted waters. But I couldn’t help myself from doing what came next.
Cog E had already tweaked me on my vocabulary, and having recently watched a certain episode of Myth Busters, I crafted a new direction for the thread, skillfully weaving in a very little bit of theology. The correct terminology, I informed Cog E, is “flatus.” Flatus is composed of about 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, just like the air we breathe. There is, however, a little sulfur thrown in for flavor. Now sulfur is commonly associated with the devil. I found it interesting to contemplate the idea that the Evil One smells of flatus.
The Pres immediately ordered us not to share this new information with our sons or any of the Thursday boys, lest they be encouraged to “let the devil out.” Cog E agreed, but added that this dangerous new idea should be kept from his daughters as well.
The other cogs were strangely silent throughout the exchange; and the subject line never changed. Right up until the very last message, the subject was “Brother M.” Poor Brother M.