I love a good mystery. Check my Kindle, and you’ll find a lot of P.D James, Dorothy Sayers, and Agatha Christie – to name a few.  So, when I heard there was a secret FLL judge willing to talk, I said “count me in”.

We met at an undisclosed location, somewhere even my GPS couldn’t find, and it was dark and rainy. Why does it always have to be dark and rainy?
The  judge stayed in the shadows, so I never got a good view of a face, but the flash of red polyester beneath the trench coat was unmistakable.
This was the real deal.

“So, why did you decide to make like a canary?” I asked, pulling out my notepad.
“Who said anything about singing?” the judge replied.

This wasn’t going to be as easy an interview as I had thought. These FLL judges are obviously sharp as a tack.

“Alright, then what exactly is a secret judge?” I tried again.
“What do you think?” the judge replied. This was one tough cookie.

“Well, they’re probably judges who makes incognito observations of teams outside of the judging sessions.” I answered.
There was no response.
“So, are they in disguise?” I asked.
“Maybe. ”
“What are they looking for?” Again, there was no response, so I continued.  “Are they looking for core values?”
“Probably.” the judge answered, pulling a small paper bag out of the trench coat pocket.

At this point, I was in too deep to stop, so decided to take a leap.

“If I were a secret judge, I would be looking to see how teams act when they think no one is looking. ”  I said, wondering what was in that bag.
The judge didn’t say anything, so I kept talking. “Because, FLL teams should be practicing good core values all the time anyways, right?”
“Seems reasonable. ” the judge finally spoke, opening the bag and peering inside.
“Also,” I added  ” when a team practices core values all the time, then it becomes a part of who they are.”
The judge didn’t say anything to that, and just smiled.

Whatever was inside the bag was making a rustling sound and I leaned in closer trying to get a look at the contents.

“After all, practice makes permanent. ” I said.
Again, the judge said nothing, only continued to peer silently into that mysterious bag.
“So a team like  that wouldn’t have to worry about a secret judge like you, would they?” This judge was  getting to me, and I really wanted to know what was in that bag.
“Who said anything about being a secret judge?” the judge responded.

And at that, the judge poured the contents of the bag onto the ground and quickly vanished into the darkness.
I stood silent for a few moments before  looking down at a pile of colorful jelly beans glistening at my feet.  Bending  over, I picked out a black one and put it into my mouth. It had only been a few seconds after all, and I know the rule.

It tasted like licorice.
I love licorice.