I got a call yesterday from a woman who sounded old.
“Pastis, this is Mildred. I need to talk to you.”
I didn’t know Mildred, but she obviously knew me. So I asked her what she needed to talk about.
“The parish banquet. I think starting it at three o’clock is a mistake.”
“What parish banquet?”
“The parish banquet at the church.”
“I don’t think I’m going to that,” I said.
“How can you not go, Pastor?”
And that’s when I realized she had not said “Pastis” at the start of the conversation.
Now this is where a kind, sane person politely says, “I’m afraid you have the wrong number” and hangs up. So that’s not what I did.
I said this:
“How can I not go? Because I don’t feel like it, Mildred.”
“You need to go.”
“Well, I wanted to, before you told me it couldn’t start at three.”
“It’s just too early.”
“Not for me, Mildred. I don’t like those people. I want to get in and get out.”
“We can’t start it at three.”
“Listen, Mildred, you’re really pushing me on this.”
“I feel like I’m being strong-armed.”
“You’re being what now?”
“Strong-armed. Maybe you can talk to your people and I’ll talk to my people and we can work this out amicably.”
“I can talk to Mary.”
“That would be a good idea, Mildred. I’d hate for things to get ugly.”
“I’ll call you back, Pastor.”
“Thank you, Mildred,” I said, and for some reason felt compelled to add:
“And God bless you.”