I died on stage two weeks ago. The occasion was the annual Pastor's Appreciate Banquet. The setting was the Oakwood Inn (Syracuse, IN). The cast was a professional Murder Mystery Group and yours truly. I earned the spot by winning a contest.
I have my friend Scott to blame for my death. He told one of the actresses that I had a background in theater. (My wife and I met in a production of Twelfth Night.) The woman interrupted my final bites of Parmesean chicken to ask me to die. "It won't last more than ten minutes," she assured me.
My death was not guaranteed. I was in competition with three other people. We would each sing Happy Birthday. We would do so impersonating a famous character.
"Can you do any impressions?" she asked.
"I can do a mean Kermit the Frog," I said.
"I've never had anyone do Kermit the Frog before. This should be good. I'll get you in a few minutes."
The troupe commenced with their show. They mentioned one of their cast failed to arrive on the scene. They would need a volunteer from the audience to play his part. All four members stepped off the stage. They were looking for victims. The actress I had spoken with grabbed a hold of me and led me like a sheep before the slaughter.
The troupe leader explained that competition: Each of us would sing Happy Birthday mimicking a famous person. The most impressive impression would be cast as a corpse.
The first contestant did a believable Marilyn Monroe. The second stumbled through as John Wayne. The third wailed like Elvis. And I summoned my inner Kermit the Frog to the roaring approval of my colleagues. I won the competition, and took my seat among the dead.
As I sat there, eyes closed, motionless, and feigning death, I couldn't help but feel a bit of pride. In a room full of religious performers, I alone earned the spotlight. My Kermit the Frog impression placed me front and center. Seven minutes into the script, as promised, they moved my body off the stage. They allowed me to return to my seat, where my wife beamed at me and several folks nodded. I inhaled my dessert, basking in fame.
Later that night, my euphoria dissolved. Instead of pride, suspicion took residence. I began to worry that my fifteen minutes of fame would lead to a lifetime of Kermit the Frog references. I was, in fact, among pastors, who are notorious for depersonalizing people. By trade, we turn people into gifts and resources. Sadly, all humans are guilty of this tendency.
Sure enough, the next morning when my wife and I entered the breakfast room, I was a marked man. The first person to greet me clasped my shoulder and said, "It's Kermit the Frog!" The next person pointed a fork at me and said, "It's the dead body!"
Pride came before my fall. Among my fellow clergymen, I will henceforth be known as the Kermit the Corpse Pastor.