The Jubilators...October 14, 2018

The Jubilators...October 14, 2018

Oct 14, 2018, 2:51:00 PM Entertainment

Sitting Three

The Report


Shelley had read an article that catering a business meeting with delicacies was a great motivator and conversation-ignitor. What to provide? She considered her options:

Mike Caruthers was a southern boy, barbecued and sizzled. Deep fried with a side of hash browns.

Lisa Lampoy was a vegetarian who periodically consumed exotic seafood if there was some plum sauce available for dipping.

Then there was Charmaine Thompson. She liked almost anything that wasn’t fried, soul food, chicken or any other grub that stereotyped her as a black woman.

Timothy Barkins scarfed sweets.

So with all that in mind, Shelley catered shrimp cocktails, baked kale chips, salsa, cream-filled donut holes and mozzarella sticks. (It wasn’t a compromise–just her favorites. She figured that someone might as well be happy with the menu.)

The two thousand word reports had been turned in from her team. She had read each one thoroughly.

Mike’s read like an edict from a prophet, forecasting doom and gloom from Dixie if Baby Jesus even had his diaper changed.

Lisa’s document was speckled with numerous details which failed to connect together to form a conclusion. Her final sentence summarized the confusion: “You’ve got to be Jewish to be this unexplainable.”

Charmaine, as it turned out, became quite anti-Kwanzaa, which made it difficult to ascertain an informative reading. She repeatedly pointed out that although she was a black woman, she had no interest Africa, confiding that she once refused Broadway tickets to The Lion King because she didn’t favor the plot or the locale.

Now, Timothy’s two thousand words were like bouncing bubbles of effervescent holiday intoxication. He was the most optimistic of the four investigators, but could only offer one example of a woman who was in favor of a name switch–and as it turned out, was because her mother had named her “Christmas.” “Christmas Jones.” (So much for the theory of a mother’s natural love…)

The reports were absent many ideas for new names for the holiday. After eliminating some of Timothy’s outlandish possibilities, it came down to four options:

Sowlstice (with the “w” for winter)

Joy Forever


Great Jubilation

So as the “investigators four” perused the catered food, bewildered, Shelley passed out paper and pencils for the discussion she hoped would ensue after the cream-filled donut holes (which became the preference of the gathered) were devoured.

She had a prepared speech but it seemed a bit too much for the casual setting. So instead, Shelley posed a question:

“In one sentence, would you please summarize your findings?”

Everyone glanced at each other, curious about who should start. After an awkward moment (made even more bizarre when Shelley spilled her coffee on top of the baked kale chips) Mike spoke up.

“People hate the idea.”

Charmaine and Timothy nodded in agreement, so Shelley probed Lisa for her opinion. “Well, Lisa, what do you think of that?”

Lisa frowned. “Jews don’t hate. It demands commitment.”

For some reason, there was a universal, affirming nod from all four–everyone but Shelley. She sighed and continued. “Let’s get to the names.”

Lisa liked Sowlstice–her concoction, placing the “w” in the middle, to focus on winter.

Mike: Joy Forever. His invention.

Charmaine? Unitree. You guessed it. Her thought-child.

And Timothy, Great Jubilation, although he was a bit surprised that his acronym of S. E. R. J. A. H. (Santa, Elf, Reindeer, Jesus, Africa and Hanukkah) had not made the cut.

Voting seemed futile. Debate would be comical and clumsy. Shelley needed to make an executive decision.

“I favor,” she began, peering at the list before her. “Well…Sowlstice or Great Jubilation.”

She blurted it breathlessly, as if she had just finished a lengthy race.

“I prefer Christmas,” spat Mike with his arms folded across his chest, as all the patriarchs, disciples and priests of history mumbled their approval from the celestial realms. The others concurred.

“Well, we need something,” surmised Shelley. “I’m stickin’ with it.”

The rest of the meeting was spent planning the division of activities and duties leading up to the Big-Wig convention. Also mingled in were growling objections to kale chips, shrimp and salsa.

Shelley looked around the room, feeling a sudden rush of doom and gloom, as Timothy blithely popped the last donut hole into his mouth.

Sitting Four

Flipping the Big-Wig

Shelley knew she was in trouble when she arrived at the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel and the food on the banquet table included shrimp and kale chips. She was early.

She liked arriving first. Time to think. In this case, quality time to worry. Very soon she would be presenting her findings before the two big bosses, seven executive vice presidents, fourteen core managers and one hundred and twelve stockholders.

One hundred thirty-five people in all. Two hundred and seventy eyes on her, with one common demand: “You better make it good, girl.”

What was she going to say? She wasn’t quite sure because she wasn’t positive what she was looking for in the first place.

Her heart wasn’t in it. Although she was not a religious person, she did like Christmas–the season, the traditions and even the name. Especially when you added a “Merry” to it. Shelley thought “Merry” brightened up anything. (Except, she supposed, an operation. “Merry Amputation” does not take away the sting.)

Yet her mission was to provide a new promotable name for Christmas and suggest ways to advertise it. With this in mind, she added a third possibility to Sowlstice and Great Jubilation–of her own making. Not that she had come up with anything better. She just believed that three options sounded more corporate.

Her possibility was Winterfest. It wasn’t ingenious–barely passable. Yet, if they ended up liking it, she would claim complete credit. If not, she would insist that it was the winner of a contest of fifth graders who were asked to join into the renaming process for fun and prizes.

It seemed like she had everything covered.

People were beginning to trickle in slowly. Three members of her committee of four came sheepishly through the doors. They cautiously explained to her that Mike was refusing to participate due to religious objections and was at his home, fasting in protest.

Shelley sniffed disaster in the air–the mixture of an overheated room, shrimp which had set out too long, and perspiration odor emanating from her armpits.

It stunk. Yeah. That summed it up. While she was contemplating her business suicide, the room suddenly was completely full and ready to go.

It was time. After some opening remarks from Mr. Dunleavy, he turned, with extended hand, and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you our spearhead, Shelley Claibourne.”

Mr. Dunleavy turned to her and said, “The floor is yours.”

Shelley didn’t want the floor unless she could use it for passing out. Yet this was her job. Doggone it, her future. She began.

“Christmas means different things to different people. Even to some, it means nothing. Therefore, is there a way to give it more of a universal interpretation?”

She paused. They were very still, staring at her. There was the obligatory coughing spree from the back row, giving her a much-appreciated delay. At length, she continued.

“I had four of my cohorts investigate all the possibilities. I want to ask them to sum up their discoveries. There are only three here. The other one. well … is home. Can’t hold anything down on his stomach. Anyway, let me start with Timothy, who was sent out to peruse and interpret the traditional market.”

Timothy leaped to his feet like he was attempting to catch a departing bus.

“Does anyone like candy canes?” he posed. About half of the room slowly raised hands.

“Me, too,” he said. He stood, smiling at the gathered, stalled.

Shelley stepped in. “Tim, tell them about your journey.”

Tim nodded. “I went to the world’s largest Christmas store. Thirty-four acres. Fifty thousand items. Do you realize, you could feed a city of six thousand people with the crops that could be grown in one season in that particular space?”

Shelley felt the need to interrupt.

“Wow. Crops and feeding. Great, Tim. Could you tell them a little more specifically about what you uncovered concerning Christmas?”

Shelley smiled at the audience, attempting to convey continuity.

Tim, on the other hand, looked puzzled. “What I uncovered…? Well, I tell you right now, Santa Claus needs to have a real beard or the kids will lose faith in his prowess.”

An ugly, agonizing pall fell over the room. Shelley turned quickly to Charmaine.

“Charmaine! Charmaine Thompson! How about you?”

Charmaine slowly rose to her feet, conveying the reluctance of a fourteen-year-old ordered to clean her room.

“Ms. Claibourne asked me to check out Kwanzaa, because…let’s see. Oh, yeah. I’M BLACK! I hated it. Don’t bother about that Kwanzaa thing unless you like Africa. Any of you white folks dig the Dark Continent?”

Fewer hands.

“Let me step in,” said Lisa with some uncharacteristic gusto.

“Thank God,” said Shelley under her breath.

“Jews are grouchy, Hanukkah’s too long, I don’t know Yiddish and a menorah has too many candles. I ain’t gonna be lighting all of those.”

Lisa sat down to a surprising smattering of applause. Shelley found herself stuck between stunned and mortified. She took a deep breath and shared.

“My suggestions for a name -lift for Christmas…”

She stood for a moment, expecting to hear some approval for her play on words. Yet the room seemed to be crickets in the midst of a vow of silence. So Shelley cleared her throat, deciding to finish quickly.

Sowlstice with a “w” in the middle. Winterfest. And Great Jubilation.”

“I like Great Jubilation!” said Mr. Markins with a spirit of real enthusiasm.

Well, that was it. After that, the one hundred and thirty-five people took over.

Shelley was relieved. Timothy was pumped that his name was selected. Charmaine pouted. Lisa tried the shrimp and then ran to the bathroom to throw up.

As Shelley quietly sat, trying to disappear into the taupe walls, decisions were being made. It was no longer a project.

It was becoming a plan.

Published by Jonathan Cring

Comment here...

Login / Sign up for adding comments.