BtVS, in a scene inspired by Parkinson's Law by C. Northcote Parkinson. Also features a few paragraphs stolen and adapted from Lawrence Block's The Scoreless Thai.
Usual disclaimer applies: I'm playing in Joss Whedon's backyard but not charging a dime.
Giles banged the gavel and declared the board meeting adjourned; the banging woke Buffy. She shook her head, ran her fingers through her hair, and stroked the corner of her lips with the small finger of her right hand to remove a suspected spot of drool. She got up with Xander and followed Giles into his office while the others talked and strolled amiably out of the conference room.
"Giles, we gotta talk!" Buffy exclaimed impatiently.
"And what would you care to talk about?"
"These stupid meetings..."
"These are very important meetings, Buffy. How else are we to plan our week? How else to keep up with whatever is going on with other Watchers?"
"And Slayers. Don't forget Slayers."
"Indeed, how could I ever forget Slayers?"
"Look Giles, in today's meeting we spent nearly an hour and a half discussing the proposed bike rack. AN HOUR AND A HALF! An hour and a half that I'll never get back! And for what? A bike rack? Why you ask? I'll tell you why. It's because every damned Watcher in there knows just enough about bike racks to have an opinion. After we discussed the material, the finish, the number of bikes it should hold, whether or not it should have protection from the weather, how fancy it should be, built-in locks or not – argh! I'm really ticked off Giles. And then, after it got tabled, or untabled since you Englishmen think 'tabled' means exactly the opposite of what it actually means, we talked about the new Hellmouth developing on the Malay peninsula. And do you know how much time we spent on the Hellmouth, the very reason for our existence? Three minutes! Three little minutes talking about a new Hellmouth and eighty-sevens minutes – I timed it – talking abut your stupid freaking bike rack! This has got to change!"
"Yes, yes, we all understand bike racks, but not even Watchers know much about Hellmouths."
"I don't care, one is business, the other isn't. The meeting was upside down, Giles, and you let it get that way!"
Giles backed up at Buffy's anger. He replied indignantly, "Oh yes? So why don't you try chairing a meeting and then you can tell me..."
Buffy interrupted, "Okay! I'll take over as chairman, thanks ever so much Giles. Ciao!"
Giles looked up in shock, "Wait, I didn't mean, I was just..." But it was too late, Buffy had already left. Giles glared at Xander, there being no one else to glare at. Xander shrugged.
One Week Later:
"Okay, I call this meeting to order!" Buffy banged the gavel. Some of the Senior Watchers blinked their eyes at the sight of the Senior Slayer at the head of the table.
Buffy continued, "Old business. First, the bike rack. Xander, can you see to designing and contracting this out?"
Buffy banged the gavel, "So ordered! Next order of business!"
A buzz of shock ran around the table. An older Watcher demurred, "But is the bike rack going to be anodized aluminium or painted steel? This could greatly affect the useful life of the rack as well as the aesthetics. It must be strong enough to stand up to abuse by young Slayers whilst appearing to be normally constructed so as not to attract undue attention and it should blend with the style of our building while following the Building Society's architectural guidelines. And what about...?"
Buffy interrupted him, "Xander will decide. And you mispronounced aluminum. Although that's not too surprising since you spell it wrong over here."
"What! Why you, you, American!" He pronounced 'American' as if it were a disease. Buffy ignored him.
Willow spoke up, "And while we're about it, I think we should outlaw the use of the word 'whilst'." Ignoring the gasps of dismay, she continued, "It's such an ugly construction, it's pointless, it only has one vowel in the middle of a bunch of nasty jammed-together consonants so that it hurts the ears. If it weren't for the bad karma, I'd turn everyone who said 'whilst' into a frog. And I really don't like frogs. Those of you who don't bow to the the god of English language, Noah Webster, just don't understand how English should be spoken!"
"What impudent cheek!"
"Rude and disrespectful child!"
"How dare you!"
One of the more recalcitrant old Watchers, fighting a rearguard action, said, "You are wrong! 'Whilst' is a very fine word, it's traditional..." But he wilted under the intense twin glares from Willow and Buffy.
Willow said, "Please, use 'while'; it's a much nicer word, the vowel to consonant ratio is superior – okay, one of the vowels is silent, but it rolls easily off the tongue, it's clear, it's to the point. It's really much better in every respect. It's, it's, uh, modern! I mean, if you're willing to use whilst in public, what's to stop you from using thou, or thee, or fain, or rede, or any other antique and outmoded word from Middle English?"
Realizing they were outgunned by the Senior Slayer and the Red Witch, they waited in silence for the next dreadful indignity; all except Giles, who said, "Now Willow, your fustian discourse on British usage was not amusing – and it's wholly out of order. So, if Buffy would bang the gavel, we'll get back to Council business."
Willow huffed once but subsided back in her chair.
"The next order of business," said Buffy with a tap of the gavel, "is the new Hellmouth. Xander, please pass the reports out."
Xander casually tossed thin bound reports to each person at the table. The Watchers were probably irritated at Xander's laid-back distribution method, but no one dared complain.
Buffy said, "Thank you, Xand. Okay, this is all the information we have on the new Hellmouth. If you'll turn to page two, you'll find a map with the suspected hellmouthy area marked. Now look at Appendix III; you'll find at least some of the questions we need answered. Does anyone here have any of the required answers? No? Does anyone here have any new questions to add? Then I propose that we send a delegation for a fact-finding mission."
The Watchers sighed because they all knew that even in the unlikely event of Giles voting against her, Buffy would still have a one vote majority since she stacked the meeting with scoobies and a few Slayers, and they had a pretty good idea who she intended to send to the Hellmouth this time.
So they were quite surprised when Dawn said, "I'll go. It'll be fun to tour Thailand and Malaysia. I'll get to really give my new digital Leica a workout."
"No, no my dear," said one of the senior Watchers, "it is simply impossible for you to go into the Thai countryside. For one thing, you don't speak the language."
"Thai isn't the language?" asked Dawn.
"Er, yes. But you –?"
"You do?" He studied her. "I find this hard to believe. I lived there for a number of years and remain at sea in it. And, as you know, I am a good linguist; I'm fluent in several European as well as a number of demonic tongues. But the maddening language of Thai? I find it impossible. I say khao when I wish some rice, but the same syllable also means badly, or white, or old, or news. One little syllable with five meanings!"
"It's just different tones," Dawn replied, "For 'rice' you say khao. For 'badly' you say khao, for 'news' you say khao, for 'white' you say khao, for 'old' you say-"
"Stop, stop! You're giving me a headache! Each time it sounds identical to me."
"Well yeah, but when you have an ear for the language, the words are clearly distinct."
"And you have such an ear?"
"Ummm, yeah," she said with humble wave of her hand.
"Then I stand corrected."
"Wait!" said Buffy, "I don't think I like the idea of Dawnie traipsing around looking for a Hellmouth in the jungle! I mean, besides snakes and tigers and elephants running amok, they've got those revolting revolutionaries and, and, other stuff. And the Powers only know what kinds of demons might be lurking in the mangroves. It's not safe!"
"Hey, it's my job! And besides, I'm sure you'll send a squad of Slayers and some Watchers with me. What could go wrong?"
"AHHHGGG! Now you've jinxed it!"
"No, no, Buffy, that's just a silly superstition."