1 Thing You Can Do This Week To Be a Better Person

PROMISES ARE NOT PROMISING

Though for a brief moment, our pride swells, our hopefulness inflates and our prowess among our fellow-humans may appear to soar, promises leave us with a single difficulty:

WE MUST DELIVER OR WE WILL START LYING

Once we start lying we can’t be trusted. When we are not trusted, we are eventually relegated to a position where people are willing to dine with us but not work with us.

The difficulty with promises is that they become two desolate deserts if we fail to deliver the goods: arrogance and foolishness.

Arrogance because we said we would be able to accomplish something and not only shared our intent but sealed it with the covenant of a promise.

Foolish because everyone wonders why we didn’t account for the thing that brought our plans down.

Yet we continue to promise that we’re going to give the money, win the game, be there on time and even be faithful until death do us part.

There’s nothing that makes us look more ridiculous than an unfulfilled promise, but people continue to feel the need to look powerful while ending up with a powerless claim. Society promotes arrogance–but we are all drawn to humility.

We expect people to overlook our foolishness although wisdom is regarded as a higher virtue.

If you want to do better, stop saying “I promise.” Instead, reply, “I think I understand what needs to be done. Here’s where my ability lies, and it’s available if you’d like me to take a shot at it.”

Nobody ever won a game, won a love, won the lottery or won salvation by making a promise.

So if you want to gain strength or be perceived as intelligent, offer what you have with humility, and apply it with wisdom.

 

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Jubilators … December 16th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3887)

Jubilators

Every afternoon from now until Christmas we will be posting sittings from the story, “Jubilators,” for your enjoyment. Good reading and Merry Christmas!

Sitting Twenty

Musings of the Hopeful

Lit made an appointment to catch up with Christmas Carol and Holly Sprig. He also invited Everett Green, who showed up for a few minutes, but then had to “leaf”—which left a trio of friends. Lit provided the light, the color, the illumination for the season; Christmas Carol, the soundtrack, and Holly Sprig was the gorgeous vine, green with promise and red with richness.

There was a bit of anxiety for this year was quite different. Normally there were those who wanted to be “lit, sung into happiness or decorated with holly”—and those who didn’t. But this year, blessing had been scared away by the common cursing.

“I just don’t understand it,” said Christmas Carol. “I feel like I’m still offering great tunes, words, instrumentation and singers, so that the whole world, for a few moments, can close its mind to bitterness, and at least consider betterment.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Holly Sprig. “Interest seems way down. There was a little girl just the other day who turned to her mother, pointed at me and said, ‘what’s that?’ Would you listen? The little girl didn’t even know what holly was.”

“I’m with you, too,” said Lit. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked any harder to use my incandescent personality to dazzle the eyeballs of these mortals. But it seems they just put together television shows where they compete for the most bulbs without enjoying the light.”

“Well, I wanted to talk to the two of you,” said Christmas Carol, “because the others in the spirit world are all involved in their own things—presents and manger scenes—and it’s always fallen our lot to carry the brunt of creating the exhilaration of Christmas.”

“Don’t forget,” said Lit, “I provided the Star that helped get this whole thing started.”

“Well, I got the angels to sing,” said Christmas Carol.

Holly Sprig drooped. “I wasn’t around for the first one, but I’ve done okay…”

“You certainly have,” sang Christmas Carol.

“If you’ll let me speak,” said Lit, “I want to point out an important fact. It is not the reaction that we must be concerned about, but instead, our portion. Conclusions come, conclusions go, and are never complete until all is said and done.”

He continued. “All three of us know that a season that begins with indifference can often end in the greatest glee.”

“I remember,” said Christmas Carol, “back in World War II, in the dark days after Pearl Harbor, that no one seemed to want to have Christmas. But then, when they realized that their sons and their husbands would be shipping off to war it made the fire, the tree and the songs become even more important.”

Holly Sprig giggled like a child. “I remember that, too—so well. They hung holly everywhere! I was very popular.”

Lit beamed a smile. “And for a brief moment, while the world was thrown into darkness, people chased the light. So, my point,” he continued, “is that we should not give up. We must not grow weary in our well-doing.”

“Here-here,” said Christmas Carol. “Joy to the world, for the Lord did come. So, we should let heaven and Earth sing.”

“I’m going to try to make my berries redder,” Holly Sprig joined in. “I don’t know how I would do that, but I shall try.”

Christmas Carol chimed, “And I will work on my harmonies. Richer, fuller—praying that the memories of the lyrics will stir the hearts of those grown, to remember what they were as children.”

“My job’s easy,” said Lit. “I’ll just keep lighting up the world.”

The three of them were still inwardly concerned, but greatly uplifted by the fellowship. Whenever Holly Sprig joined with Christmas Carol, and included Lit, they became a beautiful trinity of Christmas hope, and the world became a better place.

 

Sitting Twenty-One

The Go Must Show On

Golda was going to scream if one more grown-up uttered the words, “Next year…”

She sat in meetings with Charrleen, producers, musicians and technicians, discussing her play, which she was now writing with Charrleen. The writing sessions were amazing. It was like Golda and Charrleen shared a common soul, which released inspiration to a shared brain and spoke from a single tongue.

Golda was invigorated, entranced with the closeness she felt with this popular singer. Charrleen was astounded at the talent the young girl had—almost a supernatural awareness of rhythm, rhyme, melody and harmony. The girl’s lyrics were simple, but catchy, and easy to access. They weren’t childish—just available. Playful but thoughtful.

The pair had written eight songs in less than a week. Charrleen had gotten permission from Golda’s parents to have the little girl come to her penthouse for an extended visit. Charrleen had a full studio, with every instrument you could imagine—at least that’s how Golda saw it.

But now the music was written, the scenes were sketched out and some of the choreography was even completed and ready for review. But the meeting about when to do the performance had bogged down, and the investors and those who were more practical were insisting that it was “much too quick to do it this year, but by next year they could turn it into an international extravaganza.”

It was December 1st. The country was in turmoil. The world was trying to wrangle its way into a new war. Golda thought it was stupid to withhold the blessing of her musical—of their musical—until next year.

She was a little disappointed in Charrleen because Charrleen tried to compromise and adjust to what the executives were saying. This was no time for compromise. It was not the season to ignore the season. The world needed the musical—now. And it needed to be performed on Broadway, live, Christmas Eve, and filmed for all the world to see. Golda saw it clearly in her mind.

The discussion would probably have gone on for many more hours, and the grown-up naysayers would have worn Golda down and forced her to consider a 365-day delay. But suddenly, out of the clear blue, Charrleen spouted off. “Well, if you ladies and gentlemen do not want to fund this, I will do it myself.”

Golda’s wanted to cheer so badly that she did. The meeting had droned on for two hours. Charrleen’s accountant nearly dropped his educated pencil. He objected, which he felt it was his duty to do. “Even though what I have seen looks really good,” he said, “everyone knows it could still be a disaster. And then, you would be left holding the bag, Charrleen.”

Charrleen shook her head vigorously. “Since I’m holding the bag anyway, if it’s successful, won’t my bag get bigger?”

The accountant thought for a moment and then smirked. “Well, yes,” he acquiesced. “Then there’s that.”

The others at the table, realizing that Charrleen was going to take on the project with or without them, and that they had found the “Golda goose,” decided to sign on the dotted line.

Golda learned a new phrase. “They inked a deal.” It was a done deal. Rehearsals were set—a short clock demanding day and night work—but it was totally possible that every facet of the project could be ready by December 24th.

What was difficult was deciding which Broadway theater to use. One of the bold investors (who just moments before had frosty feet) popped up and said, “Madison Square Garden.”

This pleased everyone. It opened the door to thousands more ticket sales, which would certainly help the bottom line. As it turned out, after making a quick phone call, Madison Square Garden was booked, but one of the investors bought out the client who had rented the facility. All at once, Golda’s play, which Charrleen decided should be entitled, “The Great Jubilation of Christmas”—well, it was in full swing.

Everyone was hugging everyone and everything. If the spirit in the room was anything like what the performance was going to be, then the production would ring with success and explode with opportunity.

Charrleen and Golda went back to the penthouse to celebrate. Since Golda was underage, champagne was out of the question, so they had her favorite—A&W root beer and egg rolls.

Right in the middle of their private party, there was a knock at the door—a man in a lime green jogging suit made more popular in the 1980’s, handing Charrleen an envelope. He quietly said, “You’ve been served.”

Charrleen took the envelope from the gentleman as he turned and walked quickly away. She closed the door and headed to the couch. She opened it and glanced at it quickly, unfamiliar with all the legal jargon, but still realized she was being sued by Dunlevy and Markins for breach of contract.

She promptly called her lawyer, who explained that he had received the documents as well. Summing it up in a nutshell, the company was asserting that Charrleen had ceased to be a representative for the “Great Jubilation” campaign, and had launched in her own direction, failing to represent the cause and creating national embarrassment in an interview.

They were suing her for thirty million dollars.

Charrleen sat down next to Golda, who realized something was wrong. She’d overhead the conversation with the attorney but couldn’t figure out what anything meant. She patted Charrleen on the shoulder. “It’s gonna be all right,” she comforted.

Charrleen turned to her and said, “Well, sweetie, not everything works out all right.”

“What’s the problem?” asked Golda. “Why does the paper make you so sad?”

The tenderness of Golda’s voice and her gentle touch broke Charrleen’s heart. Her eyes flooded with tears. Charrleen was just trying to do what was right, and now she was being threatened to lose everything she had.

“I’m being sued, Golda,” she said softly. “What that means is that the company that hired me to do the song thinks that I have cheated them and that I haven’t been a good representative for their cause.”

“That’s a lot of words,” said Golda. “But maybe you’ve just decided to be a representative…is that the word?” Charrleen nodded with a smile.

“A representative for a better cause,” Golda finished with conviction.

Charrleen had to laugh. Everything in the world was so much easier when you were twelve years old. Well, nearly twelve. Golda hugged her arm. “Does this mean we’re not going to do the play?”

Charrleen embraced Golda and kissed her on the head. “No, my dear. It means we’re going to do the best play that has ever, ever, ever, ever been done.”

 

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Jubilators … December 16th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3887)

Jubilators

Every afternoon from now until Christmas we will be posting sittings from the story, “Jubilators,” for your enjoyment. Good reading and Merry Christmas!

Sitting Eighteen

Polar Opposites

Mike Carruthers never returned to work at Dunlevy and Markins. His resignation letter cited, “Irreconcilable differences” and complained about an attack on his faith in order to promote a commercial venture. For after returning to his church to garner information in the first stages of the campaign, he experienced a crisis of faith in advertising, brought about by his deep faith in Christmas.

He was gone.

Remaining were Lisa Lampoy, Beatrice Thompson and Timothy Barkins, who were asked to keep a pulse on the reaction across the nation about the new name, “Great Jubilation.” They were to monitor the positives, the negatives, the general acceptance of the phrase itself, and how it was breaking down in the U.S., from the North, South, East and West.

The work was aggravating and exhausting. The conflict over the holiday fueled a debate in the United States, which sparked brush fires of intolerance all across the nation. For some reason, Americans decided to go crazy, completely divided over tampering with Christmas, or even allowing the holidays to have any significance.

In San Francisco, a group of protestors burned a manger scene to demonstrate their rage over Christmas continuing to “force religion down the throats of the citizens.”

A poster of Charrleen with green skin was circulated, with the caption, “The Grinchess Who’s Stealing Christmas.”

Public debates, cable network forums, and commercial campaigns were launched to hurl rocks at opposing sides from behind Christmas trees, menorahs, Africaan garments, and stacks and stacks of books promoting secularism.

It certainly appeared that this Christmas would go down as the nastiest of all time. Any attempt being made to create unity or to make the celebration more universal was going up in flames, with bitter conversations and nasty insults.

Perhaps one of the worst cartoons was from the magazine, “The Cynic’s Corner,” which showed a very pregnant Mary of Nazareth, about to enter a Planned Parenthood center, with a caption reading, “A Better Choice.”

Lisa Lampoy was on the verge of joining Mike as a defector from the company. It was assumed by most of the people she interviewed, who had discovered through news reports that she was Jewish, that it was her idea to take this God-given Christian holiday and reject Jesus just as her people had done so many years before in Palestine.

Lisa, in fact, was not Jewish. Nor was she Christian. She was just a person. She had no negative views on Christmas, nor was she interested in promoting it. But she found herself caught up in the middle of a tug of war over angels, elves, candles and atheism.

Beatrice was black, so it was assumed by those she questioned that she was either a proponent for Kwanzaa or was a traditional Baptist and therefore able to be attacked for her religious fanaticism.

Timothy just wanted to get away and play with his Christmas stuff. He loved the holiday because it was the greatest form of escapism for any adult who was tired of being older and just wanted to play.

The public relations firm of Dunlevy and Markins had to evacuate the building three times due to bomb threats. Shelley received a constant barrage of complaining calls and became known around town as “The Wicked Witch of Christmas.”

There was a sense that something horrible was about to happen if something good didn’t intervene. The nation had divided into Red States and Green States. The Red States were in favor of a baby born to save the world through giving his life in blood to remit human sin. The Green States held dear nature, human life and the sanctity of individuality.

A nasty time—which often invites nasty people.

In marched Mackie Roberts.

Mackie was a national conservative talk show host. He posed a question. “If they’re going to take away Christmas, what makes us believe they’re not going to take away Christians?”

For his audience, he envisioned concentration camps where truckloads of Christians would be taken, reassigned identities and brainwashed to abandon their faith.

He cited the San Francisco incident, the burning of the manger scene, insisting that “burning Christians could not be far behind.” Even believers who were normally more subdued found themselves challenged to stand against an irrational removal of the Prince of Peace, born so humbly in the manger.

After the attacks came against Dunlevy and Markins, and against those working to monitor the reaction of the nation, Beatrice could not endure it any longer. It was not just an issue of spirituality, but also one of culture. The black community, her home church and even her family had ostracized her as a “Queen Herod,” who was trying to destroy the Christ Child. She quit, leaving Lisa and Timothy to bear the burden of gathering information. Timothy told Lisa that he felt they were like the tax gatherers working for Caesar to collect money during the birth of Jesus.

Mr. Dunlevy and Mr. Markins beefed up their security, and Shelley had body guards and rarely left her apartment.

The entire country was struggling with the placement of faith. Where did it fit into everyday life? After all, everyday life was reality—and the true reality was finding a way to get along.

 

Sitting Nineteen

Short Court

After a roaring success following the release of the Christmas video, the “kids from the park,” as they collectively became known, were an overnight delight. Charrleen had invited Golda to sing along with her on the song, “Great Jubilation,” and both Shanisse and Harry danced their little elf toes beautifully (though Harry was later humiliated by what he saw on the screen). The American public received them as kin.

For a brief moment it seemed like some common ground might be found between the traditional approach to the Christmas season and the renaming campaign, “Great Jubilation.”

But when Chris discovered that Charrleen was still receiving death threats and that Shelley was practically a prisoner in her own condominium, he was so distressed that he found it difficult to overeat. These were the two favorite women in his life, next to his mother, who was rarely around because she was a young widow who had taken on an even younger lover, and spent most of her time spending insurance money, cavorting about Europe.

Chris feared that trouble was brewing. It all came to a head one afternoon when Charrleen was at a promotional event for the song and the video, and a crowd of dissenters brought a huge tub of snowballs and started pelting her with them. No one knew what to do—even the police guarding the event were taken aback by the innocence of “snow play,” and the absurdity of the sight. One of the “snow throws” struck her in the head, leaving her, the next day, with a black eye, which she had to cover with make-up for all the concerts she was holding the following week.

It was just too much.

With Charrleen out of town, Chris was able to contact Shelley, who was working from home. He decided to pay a visit. Arriving at her building, it became problematic to get through the guards. Matter of fact, they finally had to call up to her room and ask her if she knew anyone named Christopher Timmons. She stalled. Chris was a little surprised. She finally agreed to have him let through. He rode the elevator to Shelley’s floor and stepped out.

Looking down the long hallway, he spied her standing outside her apartment. On the ride up, he had imagined what he might say or what he might do upon seeing her. She stood in front of her door, wearing a burgundy floor-length bathrobe, sipping a cup of coffee. He looked at her carefully as he walked down the hallway, wondering what his reception might be. She eyed him for a long moment, and then motioned for him to come inside.

Chris walked slowly, gathering his nerve, figuring out how to approach the situation, which basically seemed unapproachable. After all, this woman was not his girlfriend—nor had they been real friends at all. She was an acquaintance who had sparked his interest. Well, more than interest. Some intensity with a little hint of fire.

Inching his way to her door, he peered in and saw her sitting on her sofa, leaning back, legs crossed, modestly covering herself with the plush robe. She said nothing. He walked through the door, closed it and entered the room. Crossing the room, he sat in a chair adjacent to hers. “I only came,” he began, “because I needed to.”

“Needed to?” she queried.

“Yeah, that is a rather awkward word, isn’t it?” he agreed. “I used it because I didn’t really know whether I wanted to come or not. It seems like every time we get together, we either start off great and end messy, or else we start off messy and end normal. It’s weird.”

Shelley took another sip of her coffee, glancing up at him. “Maybe it’s not weird. Maybe it’s just not meant to be,” she suggested.

“I differ,” said Chris, “mainly because, if there weren’t this nervous energy between us, when I came in you would have offered me a cup of coffee.”

Shelley was baffled. “Well, doesn’t that mean I don’t like you? Since I didn’t offer you a cup of coffee?”

“I don’t think so,” said Chris. “I think you thought if you offered me a cup of coffee, I’d stay a while, and then our messy might have a chance to get great.”

“Your thinker is weird,” said Shelley.

“Maybe so,” countered Chris, “but that doesn’t mean you don’t like it.”

He sat for a minute to see if she would respond, and when she didn’t, he gladly filled the space. “Anyway,” he continued, “I was worried about you.”

Shelley took a big drink. “Worried about me? Whatsoever for?”

Chris laughed. “Well, maybe it’s because I had to go through the CIA, the Secret Service, the KGB and I think ten Navy Seals to get permission to come up and see you. Unless they’re all lining up for dates, I assume you need protection, and if you need protection that means someone wants to hurt you.”

Shelley couldn’t disguise her fear. She was in terror over the situation—and what made it even more intolerable was that she found herself representing—perhaps even defending—a position she did not favor. Her personal preference was to leave Christmas alone—let it be what it be. But her job and her insistence to be self-sufficient kept her from admitting the depth of her conviction.

In her mind, since she had begun as a promoter of “Great Jubilation,” she would die carrying the banner. It might be foolish—she knew she could run out to the closest reporter with the hottest microphone and recant her position. She just didn’t want to be… a chickenshit.

Shelley didn’t like to be manipulated. She didn’t want to be controlled by the opinions of others. Unfortunately, it made her too aware of their opinions.

Chris sat and finally asked, “If you don’t mind, I’m going to go out in the kitchen and grab a cup of that coffee.”

“And if I did mind?” teased Shelley.

“Well, then,” said Chris, standing to his feet, “I’d have to come over, sit next to you and steal sips.”

She produced a fake shudder. He escaped to the kitchen and found a half a pot already made. He put together his favorite blend: four parts coffee, four parts creamer and four sugars. His friends often mocked him, saying that he didn’t really like coffee—it was just the Santa in him, trying to imitate hot chocolate.

He stood at the counter for a moment, wondering where in the hell this conversation was going. To ease his entrance back into her lair, he began speaking before reentering the room. “I’ve been working with Charrleen a bit. Of “The Jubilators.””

He arrived and quietly sat back in his chair.

Shelley looked at him. “I know. Remember? I was Joe—the trash picker upper.”

Chris smiled. “You did make a rather attractive inmate.”

“Thank you,” Shelley responded, lifting her cup. He joined her in the toast.

“Let me be blunt,” Chris said. “No. Forget that word. I don’t like blunt. They always use that word when they describe somebody getting killed—with a ‘blunt object.’ But would you allow me to be open?” He swallowed some of the coffee. “Shelley Claibourne, I do not know even if I like you. I find you equally as annoying as you probably find me. I think you are foolishly opinionated but absolutely adorable. I am—how do they say? —conflicted. You have created a bump in my road that still tickles my innards when I bounce over it.”

Shelley set her cup down on the coffee table. “I’m not a bump,” she said. “I’m just lonely, which makes me look like a loser.” She looked him in the eyes. “This campaign—I don’t really want to be part of it anymore, Chris. But…” she paused. “Look around you. I have one of the damned prettiest apartments in the whole city—and at my salary! But it’s all tied up with that more damned publicity firm. I got the job, I got the clothes, I’ve got transportation, and I got the apartment—all because of Dunlevy and Markins. I’ve never quit a job. Listen, when they did their last report and graded my efforts, the word that kept appearing over and over again was ‘tenacious.’ I hate to throw in the towel. Even when I take a shower.”

Chris laughed. “There’s nothing wrong with tenacious,” he said. “As long as you’re hanging onto the right rope. If you keep pulling on it, you’re going to rise to the right cliff.”

Shelley frowned. “I know you meant that to be beautiful and artistic, but it just kind of got lost halfway through.”

Christopher shook his head. “Would you also like to take a moment to critique my outfit?”

Shelley reached for her coffee cup, taking a sip. “Already have. Shouldn’t share.”

They both sat, sipping coffee in a silent room. Conversation was gone. Maybe he should go, too. Something should go, or soon the moment would be gone.

Finally, Chris spoke. “I’d like to try us out. I mean, we do it in other ways in our lives, right?” He breathed in. “We test-drive a car. We buy things with warranties. ‘Ninety days, and if you don’t like it, return it for a full refund.’ Couldn’t we try?”

“You know what I don’t need?” said Shelley. “You don’t need to answer. I’ll tell you. I don’t need another disappointment.” She considered for a moment. “I don’t know about you, but this is what I do with disappointment. I get mad and then I get sad, blame myself, wonder why I’m so screwed up, and soon I forget that it may not have even been my fault. I always feel this need to climb up on my step ladder and hang on the cross.”

“Wow,” said Chris. “You are one sick mofo.”

“Is that your official diagnosis, Dr. Timmons?” Shelley snapped.

“No,” replied Chris. “My official diagnosis is, ‘go home, drink lots of fluids, eat some chicken soup, and spend lots of time with Chris.’”

Shelley softened. Tears came to her eyes, which she blinked back. “I do like chicken soup.”

“Me, too,” said Chris. He boldly moved over to the couch. Taking her into his arms, he kissed her. Their first time. He immediately liked it—and since she offered no objection, they continued. For ten minutes they did nothing but kiss, hug, stroke, grab each other’s hair and absorb into one great human unit of physical enjoyment.

Just about the time that Chris was prepared to check out the texture on Shelley’s robe more seriously, she pulled away. “Whoa,” she said breathlessly. “Let’s hold on. That’s enough for Day One.”

They laughed simultaneously. It felt great—a great moment—one they would never forget. It was something each one secretly hoped they would one day tell their grandchildren.

Chris felt so positively energized that he offered, “Shelley, why don’t we forget about all this nonsense? Let’s just figure out how to make this work, so we can both get jobs, you can get away from that public relations firm and we can start a new life…”

Shelley immediately jerked back, scooting across the couch. “What do you mean? Do you think that just because we made out for ten minutes, you can plan my life? It’s none of your damn business what I do with my job! You think your kisses are so potent that I’m going to become a Santa Claus lover? I think you’re a dipshit for having so little motivation in your life that you end up imitating a mythical figure who’s really just a marketing tool for corporate America.”

Chris held up a finger. “Excuse me,” he said. “I’m sorry. Could we go back to kissing?”

Shelley leaped to her feet, walked to the front door, opened it and pointed to the hallway. “Mr. Timmons, I would like you to leave. I didn’t ask you to come. I didn’t want you to come. You didn’t even wait for me to offer you a cup of coffee but presumptuously went in and took one for yourself. This is not the kind of man I’m interested in. I’m not looking for a gentleman friend who smells like candy canes. This is not going to work. Do you understand me? If you didn’t understand before, would you please understand now?”

Chris interrupted. “The word of the day,” he said, trying to insert some levity, “is understand.”

“I don’t care to hear your critique of my speech patterns,” Shelley spat. “If you leave now, I won’t call the guards to come and throw you out.”

Chris lifted both hands, surrendering. “Okay. Okay,” he said. “I’ve made a mistake. It’s not my first. But perhaps…” He looked up at her from his chair, “…my last with you.”

He stood up and walked to the door. As he passed by her, he said, “Thanks for the coffee. I believe there’s a woman out there that would love to sniff my candy cane.”

He walked out the door and Shelley slammed it behind him. As Chris strolled down the hallway to the elevator, he lifted his head to the ceiling and laughingly muttered, “Now there was the shortest romance in history.”

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Jubilators … December 15th, 2018

Jubilators

Every afternoon from now until Christmas we will be posting sittings from the story, “Jubilators,” for your enjoyment. Good reading and Merry Christmas!

Sitting Seventeen

Park It

“I don’t get it. I really don’t get it.” Christopher was sitting on the bench, trying to reason with Golda, who was standing three feet to his right, her arms folded, and her nose stuck in the air. About twenty feet behind her stood Shanisse and Harry, who had turned their backs and for some reason had decided to periodically stomp their feet.

Golda refused to answer, so Christ continued. “What’s the difference? I’m a grown-up. You talk to me.”

Golda broke her silence. “That’s because you passed the test, Dopey! Remember the questions we asked you? If we start trusting one grownup who has not passed the test, then we’ll have to start trusting them all. Can you imagine that?”

She flung her arms in the air in a dramatic flourish. Meanwhile her comrades persisted in looking at Chris, frowning and stomping.

Things had not gone well. Christopher had arrived for the 10:45 meeting, assuming there would be no problem with introducing Charrleen into the fold, striking up a great friendship and unleashing a joyous “Merry Christmas” alliance. Unfortunately, Golda pouted, Shanisse fretted and Harry cried.

Christopher had become the villain. He pleaded with them. He explained that Charrleen was a really cool person. He asked them if they knew the song, “Great Jubilation.” They did. They loved it. They thought Charrleen was “immensely amazing.” BUT…they didn’t want to meet her, and they certainly and absolutely did not want her involved.

Stalled. All three were deciding to “park it.”

Christopher looked down at his watch and realized that Charrleen would be arriving very soon. What to do? He was at a loss. If he left the kids, they would escape. If he stayed with the kids, Charrleen might think he was a flake and leave. He decided to experiment. He took Golda’s hand and walked her halfway between the park bench and the parking lot. He didn’t explain. Harry and Shanisse maintained their twenty feet of protection but followed along.

All at once, in the distance, a huge, white limousine pulled into the Fenswick parking lot. Christopher turned to explain to Golda that this was Charrleen arriving to meet them, but when he pivoted, he saw that all the children were running up the hill toward the luxurious limo.

Harry, screaming like a madman, shouted, “Big car! Big car! Big car!”

Christopher decided to jog after them and then stopped. Nobody was doing anything until he got there, anyway. Charrleen had her legs out of the back seat, surrounded by Harry, Golda and Shanisse, all jumping up and down like kangaroos.

He topped the grade, slowed down so he wouldn’t be panting, and waved at Charrleen. He shouted, “Charrleen, I would like you to meet…”

Charrleen wrangled to her feet. “It’s okay. They already introduced themselves.” She pointed to each one. “Golda, Harry and Shanisse.”

Christopher, coming to their side, looked at Golda, perturbed. “So, Golda, what happened?”

Golda snubbed him. “I don’t know what you mean! We LOVE Charrleen. She is SO good.”

Harry stood just a foot or two back from Charrleen and said, “You are prettier than a poster!”

Charrleen winked and said, “Thank you. I think.”

Shanisse stepped forward. “Who does your hair?”

Charrleen leaned down to her. “Me, shampoo and my brush.”

Shanisse replied, “Wow. A brush…”

Everyone was gazing at Charrleen, who didn’t know what else to say. Christopher reached out his hand to her and said, “Let’s go down to the bench and talk about Christmas.”

Everybody clapped their hands joyfully, giddy over their gang. Arriving at the bench, all kiddies wanted to sit next to Charrleen, so Golda was to the right, Harry, left, and Shanisse was on the ground, touching her knees. Christopher was stuck three feet away, appearing as if he were conducting a job interview.

Charrleen looked at the children as if they were her own. “Tell me about yourselves.”

Harry spoke up first. “I’m a runner,” he explained. “That means I’m in great shape. I’m not very old—but you aren’t either. And what I was wondering was, if I stay in great shape, and you stay in great shape, maybe you would think about…I don’t know…”

Charrleen reached over and touched his face. “You are handsome and wonderful just the way you are. Let’s not talk about the future. Let’s enjoy right now.”

Harry blushed, relieved that he didn’t have to finish his marriage proposal.

Shanisse, at Charrleen’s knees, spoke next. “I love board games. I mean b-o-a-r-d.”

Charrleen giggled. “I’ve always loved them.”

Shanisse sparkled back. “I want to have the biggest board game tournament in the world.”

Charrleen smiled. “I do love them, but…” she whispered, “I like to win.”

“Me, too!” said Shanisse, her eyes lighting up. “I try to do what my mom and dad say, and not pout. But when I lose, a little bit of pout always sneaks in.”

Charrleen turned to Golda. “And how about you, sweet lady?”

Golda hesitated, suddenly gripped by apprehension. “Well,” she said, “I feel kind of dumb saying this to you, since you’re so great, and a big star, with a big, white car…”

She stopped. “Hey!” she exclaimed. “Did you hear that? I just rhymed. Let me try again. You’re a great big star who has gone far with a big white car.”

Charrleen, in a country accent, sang back, “Drinkin’ from an old fruit jar.”

Everybody laughed, including Chris–from a distance.

“So,” said Charrleen to Golda, “I’ll bet you’re a singer.”

“And a song writer!” exploded Golda. “I want to write a musical about Santa Claus and the North Pole and Mrs. Claus! I want to represent for women! Is that the way to say it?”

Charrleen nodded. “Yeah. That’s what I want to do, too. Be human but represent well for women.”

Golda crooned, “Charrleen and I agree.”

They talked. They laughed. They discussed the joys of Christmas. They shared the favorite gift they’d ever received. They hugged.

Christopher was actually able to get a thought or two in around the festival of words about the Yuletide. It was a beautiful sight—a young woman worth countless dollars, with millions of fans, talking to children with no dollars, but a boat-load of dreams.

Charrleen leaned forward and said softly, “I’ve got an idea.”

The children nestled in even more tightly. Chris scooted over on the bench. Charrleen continued in a breathy tone, “This afternoon, here at Fenswick Park, I’m shooting a new video for my song, ‘Great Jubilation.’”

The children quietly feigned clapping, to mirror Charrleen’s whisper.

“I was wondering if you three would appear with me in the video.”

On cue, all three children looked at each other, eyes like big apple pies, and spoke a resounding, “Y-E-E-S-S-S!”

Charrleen put her finger to her lips, encouraging them to be a little quieter. “Now,” she said, “I wonder if we could get Christopher over there, to help us out by playing the part of Santa Claus in the video. We could rent him a costume.”

Christopher interrupted proudly, “I have my own costume. You know—since I play the part of Santa Claus. I had it made for me and it’s perfect for my…” He peered down at his belly, “…for my dimensions.”

Charrleen, surprised, said, “Wow. I love a man who has his own Santa suit.”

They began to discuss times, and then Golda said, “Wait a minute! What are we going to do in the video?”

Charrleen answered, “Well, if you don’t mind…I’d like you to play elves.”

Golda leaned back on the bench. “From what era?”

“What do you mean?” asked Charrleen.

“I mean, there are different eras for the elves,” Golda responded officiously. “There are the medieval elves, which are more or less wood nymphs, resembling gargoyles. Then there are the elves of the Victorian era, which were giggly, impish and had pointed hats and curled up shoes. Those have endured to today.”

Charrleen was amazed. “Why don’t you play modern elves?” she suggested. “Not too modern… but certainly not gargoyles.”

Harry piped up. “What’s a gargoyle?”

“Ugly, like you,” Shanisse answered.

Harry tried to playfully punch Shanisse, but Charrleen blocked the blow.

“Stop!” said Golda. “I will design the costumes. Trust me. I’ve been told I have a flair.”

Charrleen giggled, then realizing that Golda was serious, stifled her levity.

All at once Harry poked Charrleen. “I don’t want to be weird. But there’s a man over there, in one of those…you know, jailhouse outfits…wearing a baseball cap. He’s been watching us.”

Charrleen looked over.

Harry protested, “No! Don’t look! Just be careful. He keeps circling around us, poking for trash—but I don’t see any junk.”

Charrleen became concerned. “Maybe we should move, and let Mr. Christopher here find out what’s going on…?”

She motioned for Chris to approach the man, while she took the children over to another bench. Chris stood up and walked toward the man—about thirty feet away. As he approached, the fellow turned and began to head out of the park. Realizing he should do something—or lose Charrleen’s respect—he hastened his own clip and caught up with the man, who stopped dead in his tracks.

Christopher tapped him on the shoulder. “I don’t mean to bother you, sir, but we noticed that you’ve been hanging around, and we wondered what your interest in us is.”

“Nothing at all,” growled the man in a deep voice. “Just doing my job.”

Christopher was suspicious—the voice seemed phony. “Would you turn around here where I can see you?”

“Not allowed to talk to the public,” said the man, with a crack in his tone.

Christopher gently took him by the arm and pulled him around, peering into his face. Under the ball cap and what appeared to be a fake mustache was someone he knew. “Shelley?? Is that you?”

“My name’s not Shelley!” said the man with less basso profundo. “I don’t know any Shelley! And if I were a girl, Shelley wouldn’t be my name!” The pitch lifted higher with each word.

“No, that is you,” Christopher announced with conviction. “Shelley, what are you doing in that get up?”

Shelley, embarrassed, pulled off her mustache. “I…uh…well…” she stammered. “I was asked by…uh…Mr. Markins…Yeah. Mr. Markins. To come out and keep an eye on Charrleen, because she’s…well, you know. She was acting weird at the luncheon, and he wanted to… Well, you know. Corporate people. He wanted to monitor her movements, so we would know that she’s …Well, you know. Still on board.”

Christopher squinted. “So, you needed to dress up like a convict picking up trash?”

Shelley chuckled. “I didn’t think I’d make a very good tree.”

Christopher shook his head. “You also don’t make a very good liar.”

Charrleen shouted across the park. “Do you want me to call the police?”

Christopher turned to Shelley. “So…do we need to call the police? Shelley??”

Not waiting for a reply, Christopher shouted back over his shoulder. “No, that’s okay, Charrleen. I’ve got it under control.” He turned back to Shelley. “You, on the other hand, are not in control. I know what’s going on here.”

Shelley objected. “I told you what’s going on. What right do you have to question my authenticity? My veracity? My truthfulness?”

“Maybe because, like Santa Claus, I know who’s naughty and nice,” Chris countered.

Shelley attempted to push away to avoid any more inquiries.

Christopher managed a chortle. “You’re out here checking up on me.”

Shelley shook her head.

“No, no,” he accused. “You are a little bit jealous about what I’m doing…Oh, wait! Or is it Charrleen?”

Shelley tried to pull away, and Christopher took her arm and pulled her back in. “Shelley Claibourne, are you saying that you have the hots? For me?”

“You are so gross,” she replied, pulling away from his grasp. “I am a trash woman, and a damn good one! YOU didn’t notice me! I got fingered by the kid!”

“Okay,” said Chris. “You want me to consider you trashy. So be it.”

Shelley turned adamantly, walked, jogged and then ran away into the distance. Chris stood for a moment, watching her retreat, then turned and walked back to Charrleen and friends. Charrleen looked at Christopher, puzzled and concerned. “Is everything all right?”

“Just one of the paparazzi,” he whispered to her.

Charrleen nodded. “Oh. I should’ve known. They’re always around. I had this one guy that dressed up like a hot dog vendor.”

“You mean, like…with an apron and a paper hat?” Christopher asked.

Charrleen shook her head. “No,” she explained. “He dressed up like the cart for a hot dog vendor. I mean, he hid inside, waiting for me to walk by.”

“Talk about being a hot dog!” Harry joked.

Everybody laughed. Then they laughed some more. Then they laughed because they were laughing, and finally, they laughed because they couldn’t stop.

Plans were made for the afternoon, to shoot a video with new amigos—brought together because of Christmas.

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Cracked 5 … December 15th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Cracked 5

Things to Do When They Start Singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

A.  Fake a heart attack

 

B.  Belch out “Five Golden Rings”

 

C.  Mess with the words so they send you out of the room

 

D.  Clap your hands like there’s a beat

 

E.  Vomit

art by smarrttie panntts

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Jubilators … December 15th, 2018

Jubilators

Every afternoon from now until Christmas we will be posting sittings from the story, “Jubilators,” for your enjoyment. Good reading and Merry Christmas!

Sitting Fifteen

Cracking Me Up

Jackie Barnett perched on the set of the Good Day, USA morning show, feeling as if someone had just thrown a huge cup of ice water into her face. Only moments before she had been so excited about the possibilities for her career. As a new reporter on a network show, she had been given the opportunity to interview Charrleen of “The Jubilators” in a three-part series, with each portion airing at different stages in the programming—from the morning show to “Noon Day Round-Up,” with a special segment done on the late-night talk show.

Cherry.

Jackie had studied, practiced and rehearsed, perusing Charrleen’s biography multiple times, even analyzing the lyrics of the new song, “Great Jubilation,” so she could formulate questions and come up with the best angles for holding the interest of the American public.

John Q. Public was certainly interested. The country was split right down the middle between why and why not. Some of the more conservative locales were posing the question, “Why are we messing with Christmas?” and the more liberal strongholds were coming to the conclusion, “Why not, if it’s going to make everybody feel better?”

The conversation had turned into a discussion, quickly becoming an argument, and had finally degraded to a war of insults.

Jackie was quite confident that there would be a built-in listenership—especially since the girl who sang the song which launched the campaign was so attractive and talented.

Taping the interviews had gone beautifully. The connection Jackie and Charrleen created made it seem like they had been girlfriends for life.

But lately Charrleen had developed a crisis of conscience. Jackie should have seen it coming. During one of their private back-and-forths, Charrleen had confided that she was losing faith in the idea of “losing faith.”

She explained that her Grandmama from Louisiana had arrived and planted doubts in her mind. She got her thinking about the Great Jubilation campaign and had her wondering whether it was just stupidity to mess with Christmas. Yes—Jackie should have sniffed it out. But her optimism was so high that she could see nothing but angels and “Joy to the World.”

And now, during this morning’s live interview on Good Day USA, a brief exchange with Charrleen meant to advertise the upcoming airing of the interviews, Jackie posed a final question. She asked, “Charrleen, since I know you to be a woman of faith, do you believe that maybe God sent the opportunity your way, to sing this beautiful song and launch a new enthusiasm for the season?”

Charrleen froze. Tears came to her eyes. Suddenly Charrleen, weeping and struggling to remove the microphone, jumped to her feet and said, “I’m sorry—I can’t go on.”

She ran off the set, leaving Jackie to tie up the segment on the fly—while still trying to convey enthusiasm over the upcoming showcases. In other words, it had not gone well. When the director cut to commercial, Jackie just sat there, devastated. Could the networks even air the specials? What would the public think? Jackie did a little crying of her own. It was so unfair—and certainly, took the “Merry” out of her “Christmas.”

Meanwhile, Charrleen didn’t even stop off at the green room to pick up her stuff. She ran out of the studio, through the door and into an alleyway, where a limousine was waiting. Climbing into the back, the driver, who had been watching on a small screen in his front compartment, turned, opened the sliding glass window and asked, “Are you all right?”

Charrleen took a deep breath, looked him in the eyes and said, “No. Just get me home.”

He nodded sympathetically, closed the glass door to give her privacy and drove to her apartment building. She took the elevator up to her beautiful penthouse and walked in the door. She crossed the room and fell on the chest of her very surprised Grandmama, crying.

Grandmama had seen the broadcast. Her heart was broken for her “dainty doll.” Using her Cajun wisdom, she remained silent, waiting for Charrleen to set the tone for the conversation. Charrleen sobbed. They inched over to the couch, where they sat down together, allowing the broken young lady to find a resting spot on the older woman’s bosom.

After a few moments, the tears stopped and became heaving sighs. As they dissipated, Charrleen spoke. “I really screwed up, Grandmama.”

“Not so, dear child,” she corrected. “I guarantee you this—the Good Day USA program will never forget you.”

Although Charrleen was still plagued by sadness, she erupted with laughter. She pulled back and asked the question foremost in her mind. “What can I do, so I don’t end up being ‘the singer who destroyed Christmas’?”

Grandmama patted her back. “My sweet, you cannot destroy Christmas. Others have tried to do so, but they just ended up buried under a pile of presents and mistletoe.”

Charrleen smiled. Her Grandmama was so comforting—certainly an exacting woman, but more than willing to cease the pressure and allow for grace. “But you didn’t answer my question,” Charrleen pointed out.

“And I can’t do that,” said Grandmama. “Only you know what you have done and only you know what you want to do, because only you will be able to do it.”

“I feel so alone,” said Charrleen.

“I understand the feeling,” replied Grandmama. “But you are truly never alone. There was once a prophet in the Good Book who hid in a cave and lamented to the heavens that he felt abandoned—sure that he was the only one who still believed. The story tells us that the voice of God spoke to him and said, ‘Don’t be an idiot. I have thousands who still get it.’ Well, more or less, that’s what the voice said.”

Charrleen laughed again. “I need to be with someone who believes. I need to know if I’m believing too much or too little.” She looked up at her Grandmama. “It’s not that I need a cheering squad, but for now, I need to be around someone who loves Christmas as much as I do.”

Grandmama chuckled. “Well, that is me, but no. I’m much too old. Everything I say will sound ancient. You need to hear a fresh voice, a brighter tone. Someone who only has wrinkles on their brain, not their face.”

Charrleen nodded. Grandmama waited, and when there was no response, she pursued, “Well? Do you know such a person?”

Charrleen tilted her head back, looking toward the ceiling. “W-e-l-l…” she began slowly. “There was a young fellow I just met over a luncheon, who seemed to be dedicated to Christmas. He spoke up to Mr. Markins about it.”

“I see,” said Grandmama.

“I think he was a friend of Shelley’s,” Charrleen continued. “I guess I could call Shelley and get his name…sit down and pick his brain. Or maybe he could pick mine.”

Grandmama noted, “Sounds like a lot of picking going on.”

Without saying another word, Charrleen reached over, grabbed her purse, took out her phone and dialed Shelley, who answered on the first ring. Charrleen explained that she wanted the number of the young man who had joined them for lunch.

Shelley, surprised, asked cautiously, “Why would you want Chris’s number?”

“Because I liked what he said, and I’d just like to hear more,” Charrleen piped back.

Shelley had an instinct to resist the request, but that was impossible. Why? What excuse could she give? So, with as much cheerfulness as she could muster, she provided the digits. She was about to ask another question when Charrleen thanked her and hung up the phone.

Charrleen didn’t wait. She programmed the number into her phone and punched the button. Three rings. Four rings. Five rings. It was actually on the seventh ring that a very sleepy male voice croaked out an elongated, “Hello?”

“I don’t know if you’ll remember me,” began Charrleen, “but we had lunch together. I’m Charrleen–from “The Jubilators?”

A long pause.

Chris was thinking. How could this call have any good news? Why would a beautiful pop singer be calling him on the phone unless he had committed some dastardly indiscretion which he might not be aware of, but was still horribly offensive? Realizing that Charrleen was waiting, Chris managed, “Yes. I remember you. I mean, of course I remember you. I mean, you’re you. How could I not remember you?”

Charrleen pressed on. “I know this is odd, but I was wondering if you watched ‘Good Day, USA’ this morning?”

Once again, Chris couldn’t tell if this was a test or not. He formulated his answer carefully. “I… did not,” he said very slowly, “but…don’t take that personally, because…well, Good Day, USA is not in my sleeping schedule…” he finished.

Charrleen chuckled. “Don’t worry about it. I just wondered if you and I could have coffee…to talk about Christmas. About elves, mangers and Santa Claus.”

Suddenly a light dawned. Chris remembered that Charrleen had expressed doubts about the Great Jubilation promotion. “Sure,” he said. “When?”

Charrleen was about to suggest a location for their pow-wow when Chris interrupted. “Wait a second!” he said. “I’ve got an idea. I hope this isn’t too weird. I have a meeting in the park with some kids this morning, who want to make Christmas even more Christmassy. They’re like—well, like the poster kids for Christmas.”

Charrleen gasped. “That is so weird,” she said. “Because I’m supposed to do this video at Fenswick Park today, around one-ish—so I could stop off and meet your kids first, before that appointment.”

Chris produced his own gasp. “Did you say Fenswick Park? Talk about weird. That’s where I meet the kids. At 10:45. I know that doesn’t give you much time…”

Charrleen interrupted. “My time is my own. This is important. So where do we meet?”

Chris replied. “Just drive into the main parking lot. We’ll be looking for you. What kind of car will you be in?”

Charrleen sighed. “Well…all I have is my stretch limousine.”

“Okay,” said Chris, squelching his enthusiasm. “That’s gonna make it easier to spot you.”

Charrleen added, “Thank you. By the way, is your name Chris? I think that’s what Shelley called you.”

“Shelley…?” Chris asked slowly.

Charrleen answered. “Yeah. I called her to get your number. She seemed a little weird about it. I think she was just respecting your privacy.”

“Right,” said Chris, imagining Shelley’s plotting.

“Well, anyway,” Charrleen concluded, “thank you for taking my call. Thank you for this wonderful idea. And I’m looking forward to meeting these great kids.”

Chris blurted out, “You’re the greatest.”

Charrleen terminated the call.

Chris groaned to himself. You’re the greatest?? That’s the best I could come up with?

He considered his clumsiness—how it seemed to possess his personality. Then he silently breathed a “wish upon a star” … that maybe Charrleen had already hung up before he uttered his dumbness.

Sitting Sixteen

Pre-Love

Shelley sat for nearly an hour, trying to figure out some proper way to find out why Charrleen was calling Christopher.

Two forces were at work: there was the rational, level-headed, thinking human unit who prided herself on being able to match wits with anyone—either gender. This being had already set aside any consideration of being hooked up with a pseudo-author who had Santa Claus issues. Then there was the other part of her—the little girl who still hung around, leftover from her childhood, who was told that anyone who was unmarried after age twenty-six was doomed to a life of solitude and condemned to the title of “Old Maid.”

Shelley disliked Christopher—in a kindly sort of way. She found him ignorant, even when he bettered her with his wit. But the issue wasn’t actually about their interaction together, or the possibility of becoming a couple. Rather, it was her duty as Chairman of the “Great Jubilation Project” to know what this rogue singer was up to. She had to be clever. She didn’t want to be intrusive or come across girly-girl.

And yet another issue was screaming for attention. Mr. Roger Dunlevy, the founding partner in Dunlevy and Markins, had asked a favor. This was monumental, considering the fact that he had never spoken to her before, and she wasn’t certain he knew that she worked for the company since he had once asked her where he could find a broom. (The request troubled her for two weeks, rattling around in her brain and causing her to wonder if she carried the demeanor of a custodian, or looked like she should be a housewife, sweeping up in the suburbs.)

When he approached her with the possibility, she held her breath, hoping she could pull it off. It was actually rather simple—his friend, Maxwell Winslow, was coming to town. He was a single man who wanted to be shown the beauties of the city and required a tour guide.

Shelley said yes, never thinking that no was an option.

Therefore, following her usual studious profile, she looked Maxwell Winslow up on the Internet, discovering that he was a corporate giant with a Fortune 500 company and had initiated the idea of making the December holidays more universal. He had placed an op ed in the New York Times entitledA Worldly Celebration.  He contended that the symbols which were more world-wide and common should be adapted into the yearly expression of good cheer. This would be better for the whole planet and might inspire more good will the rest of the year.

Shelley read the entire fifteen-thousand-word article. It was exhausting, boring, illuminating and definitely foretold that the man she would be ushering around town was scholarly and not given to fits of passion. He was also twelve years her senior.

Not that she was looking for romance. A bit of companionship might be nice. Shelley had considered a cat—but if she wanted to be around dismissive creatures, she could go see her family. A dog was out of the question. It required walking and feeding. Though she believed that somewhere within her there was a dog-walker, she also felt she might go broke paying someone to do the job. People were so fussy about their mutts. After all, they weren’t humans—not kids, not children or even brothers and sisters.

If she wanted to be successful being a tour guide for this giant of industry, she needed to switch into a more flexible gear. But Shelley hated flexible. Flexible meant you had to be ready to do anything at any time. Flexible was just too flexible. It was too much “playing it safe,” which wasn’t really playing at all. So even though it appeared to those on the outside that Shelley was calm and common, inside, she felt, was a raging biker chick, looking for her Hell’s Angel. (Well, that was a bit too far, but she still wanted something spicy—her personal jalapeno.)

Even though in five hours she would be dressing to go out with a man who was probably a billionaire, her undisciplined mind still drifted to her frumpy, unshaven and uncombed Santa impersonator. It was ridiculous. How could she feel jealousy about this Christopher fellow? It was just a date or two. And when he humiliated her in front of her boss, he established very clearly that her feelings were not as important as his opinions. She chased the thought of him out of her mind.

Shelley climbed into the shower—way too early. She was powdered and puffed a full hour in advance, and spent that hour changing her mind on her dress seven times, which was ridiculous considering she only had nine outfits.

She chose the black one. She looked closely in the mirror. Yes. It was forgiving. It was the Catholic priest of clothing. It was the Amazing Grace of garments. She could hide a lot of baggage underneath black draping. Not that she had a lot of baggage, but more than was allowed for carry-on.

The time arrived. Mr. Maxwell Winslow was to pick her up in his limousine. (That in itself was a step up from Christopher.) They were going out to dinner at a six-star restaurant. (Shelley had always thought they ended at five stars.) Winslow had procured tickets to a Broadway show that supposedly had no tickets available. (Christopher could only afford to take her to discount matinees at the Movie Cinema.)

Yes, it was going to be a night to remember.

Shelley didn’t want to think about all the ramifications of being on a date—or in a meeting, however you chose to think of it—with such a well-known playboy, but God, she hoped he thought she was worth consideration. That’s all she required. Even if he doesn’t do me… does he want to?

She was getting crazier by the minute. Finally, the limousine showed up, Shelley climbed into the back and Winslow offered her a glass of champagne. He was better looking than she had even imagined and smelled like a pine log with flowers growing out of it. She politely passed on the champagne because she was already a little too intoxicated by the atmosphere. He was surprised, bruised that she turned it down, so she changed her mind, took the glass, drank it straight down and held it out for more. What the hell? Might as well have a good time while making a good impression on the boss who thinks you know the ins and outs of a broom closet.

The restaurant was gorgeous, and everything was going perfectly—until the subject of Christmas came up.

When Shelley mentioned “Great Jubilation,” Maxwell waxed disapproving. “It’s an acceptable title,” he proffered. “I was hoping for something a bit more imaginative. Something more inclusive, that wouldn’t force the idea of joy onto those who are content with their contemplative manner.”

Shelley stifled a frown. It wasn’t so much what he was saying, but rather, trying to keep up with the context of his words that was giving her trouble. She nodded—not in agreement, just hoping the conversation would roll onto something that was easier for her to address. But Maxwell continued.

“I’ve grown weary of people who think they know what’s best for everyone,” he stated. “I’ve worked hard all my life to not need anything. After all, it is our needs that betray us, don’t you think?”

Shelley nodded again. She realized she would eventually need to utter a sound, or he might assume she was mute. However, Maxwell pushed on, oblivious. “Of course, the Muslims are too aggressive. The Buddhists, too passive. And the Christians, too dogmatic. We are human. It is a shame to be ashamed of that. It is insane to believe that we won’t have flaming passions ignited by things we smell, touch…”

When he said the word “touch,” he reached over and placed his hand on top of Shelley’s. She had an immediate reflex to pull away. It was so ugly. Here was this genius—this financial wizard—this philanthropic legend—and he was willing to make physical contact with her, and she yanked away like he was a horny purple lizard.

He didn’t even notice. He perpetuated his speech. “I am a man. You, a woman. What do we have in common? Many things. But there is always something we want from each other—and it only becomes ugly if we allow that want to deteriorate to a need.”

He paused and looked at her for either response or applause. Shelley couldn’t tell. She quickly cleared her throat. “If I were to be honest with you, Mr. Winslow,” Maxwell flicked his hand into the air, interrupting her. “You are not so uptight and so young that you are going to insult me by calling me Mr. Winslow. We are sharing a meal—so I am Max.”

Nervously, Shelley gently pointed at him and said, “Then you can call me Shell. No…Shelley. That’s fine.”

He smiled at her. She smiled back. Smiles all around.

Shelley was waiting for her brain to arrive to the dinner, grateful that the black dress was there. Winslow talked for half an hour before they even ordered food. He opted for calamari and she chose lobster. She didn’t know much about lobster—it did not live in her neighborhood. But she knew it was a classy thing to order at a classy restaurant. She asked the waiter if she was supposed to go to some tank to pick out her lobster. The waiter sneered and in broken English, replied, “No. That’s Red Lobster…”

Maxwell emoted a short giggle. A little bit of Shelley died.

They waited for food. In that interim, Maxwell covered three other subjects: universal poverty, universal health reform and a large dose of universal boring. It was hard for Shelley to imagine how a man with such charisma, finance and even some sexiness could be so vacant of appeal—at least to her.

Every time he mentioned Christmas, she thought of Santa Claus. Santa Claus made her think about Christopher.

Every time he brought up poverty, she thought about poor people—which made her think about Christopher.

Every time he brought up health care, she thought about unhealthy—which certainly made her think about Christopher.

What was Christopher doing with Charrleen?

It was the question that kept racing to the front of her brain, and every time she threw it back to the rear, it jogged up her cranium and made itself known again. While cracking her lobster shell, she realized she was in trouble. She would, of course, finish out the evening watching a Broadway show which only made her focus on how she needed to pee. But she was a girl in a terrible fix—she had read about it very recently at a dentist’s office, sitting there waiting to be drilled. She had considered reading one of the three magazines available: Sports Live, Mechanics Today or You Girl.

There was an article listed on the front of “You Girl” entitled How You Know You’ve Got It and Can’t Get Rid of It (Take the Test). Inside were ten questions about your present relationship with your man.

Bored, nervous about her lack of flossing and waiting impatiently, Shelley had taken the test—with Christopher in mind. She added up her number and looked down to the end where a code explained where she was in what the article referred to as “the world of love.”

Three possibilities: Madly in Love, Not in Love, and in Pre-Love. Her score landed her right in the middle of Pre-Love. The You Girl article described it as a situation in which “enough contact and intimacy had been exchanged between two people that they know they want to see much more of each other, but neither one has admitted the urge. Even though each may attempt to interact with others, dissatisfaction will come to the forefront because both need to find out if their Pre-Love could lead to being Madly in Love.”

At the time, Shelley dismissed the article as drivel. She was a feminist—a woman of today. A conscious, aware being. Prepared to take on any comers.

But now, as she sat in the limousine on her way home with a billionaire who was attractive enough to call “tycoonish,” she felt empty, alone—and possessed not one single drop of desire to have him touch her, kiss her or for that matter, even recognize that she was still in the vehicle.

Preparing herself for an awkward exit, Shelley pretended that the lemon on the lobster had curdled her stomach, and that she would have loved to invite Max up—but she was afraid… Well, you know.

Maxwell Winslow, who was not accustomed to being rejected by women, immediately accepted her excuse, expressed his concern, and suggested baking soda and three units of water with a drop of hydrogen peroxide.

Shelley listened very carefully, as if she were taking a “mind pencil” and jotting it down in her brain. The limousine rolled to her door. She nervously took his hand, squeezed it and thanked him for a lovely evening. Max pulled her in for a brief hug, whispering in her ear, “You’ve got it, girl. You’re one of the ones.”

Not certain what he meant, and feeling extraordinarily upside down and turned inside out, Shelley quickly gave a brief kiss to his ear, and pulled away. They smiled to each other as if waving good-bye. The chauffeur had already made his way around to her side of the car, opened her door, helped her out and walked her to the entrance.

Shelley was overjoyed—relieved to get away, nervous, questioning, frustrated, pissed off, and unwilling to have one more hour of life without knowing for damned sure what Charrleen wanted with Chris.

The elevator took her to her floor and as she walked to her apartment and put the key in the lock, she lifted her eyes and spoke to no one in particular and said, “All right. I admit it. I’m in Pre-Love.”

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Published in: on December 14, 2018 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sit Down Comedy … December 14th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3886)

Bad inflow, stinky outflow.

The human race has been given lots of bad information.

Thus the stink in the air.

The collaborators are at work. They have gotten together and either lined up in one brigade or clumped in another–those camps being the secular notion that all human beings are basically good, just needing to be left alone to prosper within their own consciousness, or the religious assertion that we are rotten, and if God doesn’t save us and constantly monitor our activities, we are fodder for hell.

It’s spooky.

And trying to find a real life out of these warring armies of philosophy makes the common person like me wish for some peace. The problem is, I end up less productive than I wish to be.

Human beings are probably one of the simpler forms of life.

We are not creatures in the jungle, struggling for survival. We are not bees, frantically trying to make honey, and we also are not cockroaches, scurrying across the floor to escape being squashed by grossed-out adults.

We have two buttons. Yes, just two: LESS and MORE. Should we press LESS or press MORE?

The conflict arises when our ego tells us to press MORE when LESS is needed, or our fear demands we press LESS when it’s time to hunker down on the MORE button.

The entire Gospel of Jesus was a less and more proposal. Don’t take my word for it–you read it and you’ll see the principle. He came to guide us into what should be done less, what should be thought less and what should be felt less, and what requires a good dose of more.

You don’t have to go any further than the Beatitudes to find this in full application:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

In other words, less ego about being spiritual because you really aren’t, and God doesn’t expect you to be anything but human.

“Blessed are they that mourn.”

More compassion is needed for others if we expect to feel the compassion coming back our way.

“Blessed are the meek.”

Less struggling, fighting, arguing, back-biting and cursing will give us a chance to buy time for a shift in society’s thinking or a change of scenery.

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

We all need more energy in trying to learn to achieve our goals by using the most common sense we can possibly muster.

“Blessed are the merciful.”

It’s made clear that the more merciful we are to others, the more we receive in return.

“Blessed are the pure in heart.”

The less we inundate our emotions with unnecessary arguments, the easier it is to see God working in our lives.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.”

The more we stay out of the fracas of politics and religious intolerance, the more we will be viewed as individuals who make things happen–good things.

“Blessed are those which are persecuted for righteousness sake.”

Yes, less worry about whether we will come out on top. We should stop being concerned about goodness going out of style.

And the culmination: “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.”

Bluntly, less fretting about whether things are going to turn out well for us here on Earth and in the kingdom beyond.

Step into your day with your two buttons: LESS and MORE.

Then take the time, all the good things you’ve learned, and choose which one to press when it is the moment to render an excellent decision.


We are delighted to announce that every afternoon from now until Christmas we will be posting sittings from the story, “Jubilators,” for your enjoyment. Good reading and Merry Christmas!

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