Saturday, November 16, 2013

A laugh a day keeps the doctor away

[Editor’s note. The following was written by Matthew Belinkie and appeared on (Timothy McSweeney’s) on April 24, 2007, as “An Update On The Problem of Maria.” --RWP]

FROM: The Reverend Mother
TO: The Nuns

My Sisters,

As you know, our little convent has been plagued in recent months by “the Maria problem.” I must say, in all my years serving the Lord, this is the greatest challenge I have ever faced. It is like trying to hold a moonbeam in your hand.

Nuns have described Maria as “a headache,” “a demon,” and “capable of outpestering any pest.” Yet, when I put out a box to collect anonymous Maria-related complaints, many of them seemed relatively minor:

.....• “She climbs a tree and scrapes her knee.” We are not
....... Franciscans, but surely we can agree that a youthful
....... heart often expresses its love of the Almighty through
....... delight in nature. Besides, it’s spring; it’s like the hills
....... are alive!

..... • “She’s always late for everything except for every
....... meal.” As a novice, Maria may simply be unaccustomed
....... to the regimented life the convent demands. By the
....... way, the implication that she is fat is simply uncalled
....... for.

..... • “Underneath her wimple she has curlers in her hair.”
....... Sisters, we all know that Maria sports a rather
....... unflattering pageboy bob, with nothing resembling a
....... curl upon her head. Whoever submitted this slander
....... must search her soul.

On the other hand, I must admit Maria makes me uncomfortable. Once, she mentioned that brown-paper packages tied up with string were among her favorite things. That doesn’t seem normal, does it? Plus, her five-octave range is positively unnerving.

So what can be done? I have been conducting frequent meetings on the subject with the most senior nuns, and a number of options have been proposed:

.....• KICK HER OUT. Vetoed. These walls were not built to
....... shut out problems; we have to face them.

.....• FEED HER LESS. By limiting her rations, we may deny
....... her the energy to do things like waltzing on the way to
....... Mass or spinning around on mountaintops with her
....... arms outstretched.

....... shocked at the number of times this was suggested.
....... For shame, sisters. I know it can be truly frustrating
....... when she will not stay and listen to all you say, but we
....... are nuns! Nuns!

....... NAVAL HERO. I don’t really understand this plan. How
....... is this going to make her a better nun? If anything, I
....... feel that putting her in close proximity to children will
....... exacerbate her own childish tendencies.

Sisters: I will consider our course. In the meantime, let us pray for a solution to this seemingly insoluble problem of Maria. We must have faith that we can climb every mountain, ford every steam, follow every rainbow, ’til Maria either stops being so annoying or falls in love with someone and gets married. I sincerely hope that the time soon arrives when we can turn our attention to more pressing matters. For instance, I hear the Nazi Party is quite popular nowadays?

Yours in Christ,
Reverend Mother

P.S. The voting to select a word that means Maria has been completed. The winning word is “Flibbertigibbet.”


  1. Poor Maria.
    Life should be so simple. lol

  2. Hahaha! Very good. That's helped me maintain my no-doctor zone for another day.

  3. since i have been held accountable for writing classical pieces for tiny tim by a similar survey, one of which was to go manic in calling for a medic, i must respond to a problem called maria<<>><><>kindness, love and giving would do much for any problem i dare for you to find one word with spelling problems

  4. A Lady's Life in British Columbia, I'd like to say a word in her behalf: Maria...makes me...laugh!

    Katherine in New Zealand, my own no-doctor zone is currently being threatened by a ruddy dose and a bad head code.

    Putz in Yew-tar, ewer spilling, chest lack Yuma friend, reminds bee yon rap roach. (Note. I put a little Aussie accent in there -- did you hear it?)

  5. I am always glad to keep the doctors at bay - so thank you.
    However, your response to Putz sounded much more like Noo Zilland speke than Oz. Accents are sooooo difficult are they not?

  6. I could be wrong but I think this spoof letter could have been stimulated by "The Sound of Music"(1959) - a musical with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. In 1965 the popular Broadway show was developed into a film starring Julie Andrews as Maria. Co-incidentally, I once met Julie Andrews in a fish and chip restaurant in Guiseley near Leeds but I refused to give her my autograph.

  7. Elephant's Child, you're right! It does sound like Noo Zilland speke!

    Katherine, thank you. I do believe I'm on the road to recovery.

    Yorkie Puddy, Julie Andrews eats fish and chips in Guiseley near Leeds? Will wonders never cease!