[Originally published April 24, 2007.]

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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.
  • ADMINISTER FREQUENT, SAVAGE BEATINGS. I am 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!
  • LOAN HER OUT AS A NANNY TO AN ECCENTRIC 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.”