Four Frenchmen and Some Tables

There we were once again, the four of us, esteemed Knights of Columbus, getting ready to set things up at the clubhouse, while our patrons were out circling the links for our annual Burt Boucher Memorial Golf Tournament. The event takes a lot of planning – mostly on the part of other Brother Knights besides me – but our part on this day was to merely be grunts.

So once we’d gotten all the golf teams registered, coffee’d up, and out on the course, the four of us gathered all the prizes we’d been accumulating for months and lugged everything upstairs to the cozy confines of the Londonderry Golf Course’s cheery clubhouse. That’s where we would be serving lunch and holding our raffles when the teams came tromping in.

Now, we’ve only been doing this tournament for about ten years… but being French, we always have difficulty with it. Mostly because, again, being French, we all know what needs to be done – we just have different ideas on how to get there…

Dave was the first to arrive at the top of the steps, with a load of stuff in his arms. He tried to push the door open. “Shoot, the door’s locked…” he said.

“Locked?” I queried. And three of us ran up to check this out.

“Maybe, he should be pulling the door open?” one of the other guys suggested.

But a deeper look at this conundrum confirmed something, and with the deepest respect for Dave, I said “It’s a sliding door, Dave. Try sliding it open.” And that worked. Signs of the Cross all around. We ran back downstairs to get the rest of our stuff. The clock was ticking…

Finally, with everything now safely upstairs, we had to work on laying the prizes out on tables. Now remember, we’ve only been doing this for ten years. It took us about 20 minutes to decide where the Winners Prize table and the Silent Auction table should be. That was the easy part – they only involved one table each.

The Raffle Prizes table was a different story – that involved two tables, which had already been laid out for us in an L-shaped pattern. “We need to moves these over in a V-shape,” said Dave. That’s how we had it last year.”

“But then there won’t be any room to get by, when the players go over to the Winners Prizes table,” I said. We decided to try the V-shape anyhow. Meanwhile, even as we were moving these two tables around, Dick and Will started laying the prizes out on them, oblivious to our activity. We moved the tables to the left. Then to the right. Then we tried them back in the L-shaped configuration. Then tired, we stopped.

“Shouldn’t those tables be in a V-shape?” Dick asked, suddenly part of the conversation, as he laid the final prize on one of them. So we moved them again, settling on a V-shaped pattern that everyone thought worked. Another twenty minutes had passed. Later, we would be admonished for moving the tables, but, being French…we just ignored that.

We then got the final two tables for the Door Prizes, and two of us quickly started laying those prizes out.

“Shouldn’t we lay the prizes out in order, from the most expensive to the least expensive?’ Will asked. “That’s the way the list is written.” We all agreed that was a good idea – although it didn’t really matter since everything in the Door Prize category is valued about the same. But, regardless, Dave and I started lining up the more expensive stuff, from left to right. Meanwhile, Dick had the gift certificates and was laying those out from most expensive to least expensive too – but he started at the other end of the table, from right to left.

“Dickie,” I asked, “Are you Chinese?”

“What? I’m lining these up from the most expensive to the least…”

“Yeah, but backwards. Everything is going from left to right – except your stuff.” We all pondered this. For about three seconds. Then we left it as it was. The Door Prizes are a free-for-all anyhow. But then we needed to set up another table. That’s because John, who organized the event, and by the way, is neither French nor Chinese, had some less expensive door prizes and wanted to combine them so their value would be equivalent to the other prizes. From among the dozen signs John had prepared for us, Dave found the sign for this phenomenon. It read “Choose two $10 prizes or one $10 prize and one $5 prize.” No mention what you’d do if you wanted two of the $5 prizes.

We all looked at this sign, trying to absorb its meaning. “Is John French?” Will finally asked.

“Polish’” I responded.

“Couldn’t it just say ‘Choose any two’?” suggested Dave.

“Who cares?” said Dick. And we taped the sign to the table – upside down, at first, and finished spreading out our esteemed two-for-one prizes.

Then, as true Frenchmen, each of us, except Dave, ran away – off to do other things on that gorgeous Saturday morning. I was off to cut the lawn and rush back in time to use my big mouth to call out the winning tickets for our 120 prizes. My penance. Dick and Will ran off to other commitments. By hanging around, Dave took the brunt of being chastised for moving the tables around. Life is unfair.

And the golf tournament? As usual, it went off without a hitch. Good and generous people who help us make this event work, year after year. Despite those of us who are French…

Disclaimer: For those who don’t know, New Hampshire is crawling with Frenchmen, the vast majority of us descended from French Canadians, who themselves are fairly fond of distancing themselves from Frenchmen in the mother country. There is a worldwide French “pecking order” you know and French Canadians aren’t at the top. Regionally, if you do something offbeat, even stupid, you will get the retort “What are you – French?” We even call ourselves Frogs. It’s all in fun and really an expression of our self-depreciating humor. Now, if this offends you, see either Dick, Will, Dave, or myself. We’ll be readily available to prove you wrong – after debating the issue for a half hour and reaching no conclusion. Then we’ll run away…

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