The columns and writings of
Peggy L. Elliott
""  The following is a partial chapter excerpt from the book:
"The Greenville Christian Church of Attempted Holy Order's Centennial Pig Roast Celebration."

Beulah smiled over at the insurance adjuster; she hadn't quite caught his name, but it didn't really matter. She ran a rapid rewind through her memory, looking to put the best spin on her own participation. After all, it hadn't been her fault. Why, she had done everything possible to make the Greenville Church of Attempted Holy Order's Centennial Pig Roast Celebration the most exciting event to ever happen in this town. Going over and over the story was beginning to wear her ragged, what with the police investigators, radio and newspaper reporters, and now this insurance business.

Still, she was as willing and anxious as the next person to do her part to ensure the blame was placed squarely on the cowardly shoulders of those who deserved it. But even she was getting to the point where she'd had about enough of all this hoopla. Sitting in her kitchen there, gazing at that little whirring tape recorder gadget, Beulah began for the umpteenth time to set the record straight, while she silently longed for the day her life would return to normal, or at least what passed for "normal" in the town of Greenville. "Well, let me think a minute and I'll try to get the story straight for you." Beulah spoke directly into the microphone. No sense going through all this and not getting it recorded properly. "I don't know why this is so important. After all, I had nothing to do with the way it all turned out." The insurance adjuster merely nodded his encouragement.

Beulah closed her eyes for a moment and tried to center her thoughts on that first committee meeting. She supposed it must have been then the giant roll of toilet paper began its descent upon the innocent little town of Greenville. Why, they never knew what it was "wiped them out!" Beulah tossed back her head in laughter at her joke, then realized she hadn't actually spoken the words aloud. Regaining her composure, she began to relate the incidents which lead up to the disaster, or those to which she was privy, anyway.

"I suppose it all pretty much started out when I called everyone together for the first Pig Roast Committee meeting. I was the Chairwoman, you know. Of course, it wasn't the 'Pig Roast Committee' just yet, it was the 'Centennial Celebration Committee.' We hadn't come up with the pig roast idea until we all got to the meeting that first time.

Now, it was still winter at that point and the celebration wasn't until July, but I thought we should start getting some ideas worked up, make a couple of decisions, that sort of thing. Just to get everybody headed in the right direction, you know, thinking about how big a deal this really was. Greenville had two churches and both were celebrating their one-hundred year anniversaries that summer. We were the original, so of course we were going to hold our celebration first.

The Greenville Christian Church of Attempted Holy Order had even written up a mission statement, after it was decided too many of the congregation were forgetting what exactly was expected of them, as members of this church. The statement ended up being pretty long and involved, which is what you get whenever you let a minister loose with a captive audience - you're gonna get a lot of words heading in your direction. Makes no difference if it's while you're sitting in those old, hard pews, or if you're handed a piece of paper to read. Of course, with the paper you can skip the boring parts, which you can't do in church. Unless you fall asleep!

Anyway, the mission statement referred to the congregation as 'priding ourselves on our spirit of progressive-conservatism, as well as promising a religious experience of some sort for anyone who cared to show up on a semi-regular basis.' Like I said, there was more to it, but these were the rules, or whatever you'd want to call them, which stuck in my head. Back when the Attempted Holy Order was founded, they didn't have these rules set down in quite so friendly a manner. You know, when you're starting something as important and nit-picky as a church, well, you're gonna have your share of disgruntled nay-sayers, and Holy Order certainly had its fair share of those types. Makes no never mind what you try to do to please everybody, these folks will keep on complaining and bullying and the fights keep escalating, until every Sunday morning turns into an out-and-out battle zone. Well, finally the rest of the congregation had no choice but to show the misfits the door; their welcome had plum been worn out.

These people, when thrown out of the original Greenville church, banded together to form a new church of their own. That's how the renegade Greenville Sixth Evangelical Church of Everyone's Favorite Saints came to be, though it's not thought of so much as a 'renegade' church anymore. You can imagine, in the early years these two churches fought like Moxy's Raiders, but as the years went on, and being a hundred of them by now, we'd each pretty much grown to accept the existence of the other. Some people even went so far as to say both these churches were exactly the same and it was stupid to be wasting good money on having two buildings like that. But some people are always confused, aren't they? Of course it's a moot point now."

Beulah stood up and retrieved a small aluminum coffeepot which had been set to simmering on the stove and grabbed from the counter mug tree two thick, white porcelain mugs with "See the World from Look-Out Mountain" stamped on each. She used only her best when she was serving important company, like today. She set one mug in front of the insurance man, the other by her seat, then without bothering to ask, poured them full of thick, hard-black coffee. The man's grimace surprised her, but then she realized he must take sweetener, or something. Personally, Beulah preferred her coffee strong enough to grow hair on your chest, though, of course, she sure didn't want that hair growing on her chest! "You need something to weaken that up for you? Sugar or milk, maybe?" The insurance man shook his head, "No, thanks. I'm fine." Beulah noticed he didn't touch his coffee, though. Some people just don't know what's good even when it's right under their noses like that. "I need my coffee, you know. Keeps me energized.

Well, anyway, as I was saying, Holy Order's celebration was first and Reverend Beecher, rest his soul, had mentioned we should be getting a committee together. Right away it was noted how I would be the chairwoman, having the most organizational experience, and all."

"Mrs. Fudderwick, I wasn't aware Reverend Beecher had passed away." "Well, I guess that's cause he hasn't. He's just not here with us anymore, a decision he made on his own, I might add, and against everyone else's wishes. To this group that was as good as being dead. He was only one of the casualties brought on by this whole affair. Anyway, when I set the date and time for the first committee meeting, no one would have believed the outcome of what was to have been a grand celebration. Why, I thought my main challenge was to get those ladies working together, to agree on some plan, when they hadn't agreed on anything in years. But being, as I guess you'd say, 'a natural-born leader,' I was committed to my duty. You may not know just yet, but the people here in this town look up to me. I was determined to put on a celebration none of them would be forgetting anytime soon. I never thought I'd be saying this, but sometimes I wish I wasn't always right."

"Mrs. Fudderwick, if you don't mind, maybe you could tell me more about the actual meeting you first held. Who was there, what plans had taken shape, that sort of thing."

"Well, calling that first meeting was simple enough. Everyone wanted to be on the committee, of course, it being such an honor and all. So, there were really more ladies on the committee than I'd have preferred. But, you tell me, how can you weed them out when it's for something that big? Anyway, I knew the number who would actually participate in any of the decision making would be low. So it didn't make a hill of sardines difference how many would actually be spreading out on those chairs that day. I'd asked them all first off if they had any suggestions for the celebration. We would want something special to mark the day properly, of course. But we should plan on having something fun for everybody, from the children all the way up to those real old members we had, like poor Elsie Thompson. Would you believe I can still, to this very day, hear that nitwit, Cindy Simms, blathering away? I knew she was trouble soon as she came slithering in, all la-di-dah and 'ain't I just the cutest lil' ole thing?' Just cause she's young, she's got this idea that dressing like some crazy fruit pop'em-up-tart is something she could pull off. Shoot, she had that hair sprayed into a mound of knots so solid and piled up so high I can't imagine how she ever managed to keep that head from slip-sliding off those roller-coaster shoulders of hers. And I can still hear her twirpin' away on that stupid circus idea of hers.............."

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© Peggy L. Elliott 2006