Spark word: Sibling Rivalry
“Shut up!” Adele stops singing and pounds a fist against her bedroom wall. From the other side, Sienna responds in kind with a faint but distinctive blow. “You shut up!”
“Girls,” Eve warns from downstairs as she lounges on the sofa, fashion magazine in her lap and vodka martini in hand. Although she knows it’s a waste of breath, and is proven correct when, predictably, her daughters continue squabbling.
“I shouldn’t have to shut up!” Adele’s voice borders on a screech. “I’m not the one who sounds like a hyena with rabies!”
“Why should I have to shut up? You sound like a crackhead going through withdrawal!”
“You wish. I’m the one with real talent! Not the one who sounds like a stuck pig bleeding out!”
“I thought you said I sounded like a hyena with rabies!”
“That’s because your sound is inconsistent!” thunders Adele. “You’re so all over the place that you sound like several sick animals!”
Eve throws down her magazine. “Girls,” This time, she’s serious; she says it to be heard.
Except she’s not.
“You would think so because you wouldn’t know what good singing is! Which is what makes you a bad singer!” Sienna counters.
Adele’s fist issues another pound to the wall. “You’re just jealous because I was born with this talent. It’s a gift from God!”
“Well then I hope He still has the receipt because it needs to be returned!”
“Ooh – good one. I mean, GIRLS!” Eve’s on her feet now, but not before gulping the last of her drink. Ooh yeah. Burns so good.
There’s stomping now, which means each sister has emerged from their rooms and into the hallway.
“Uh, don’t hate because you make Jennifer Lopez sound like Jennifer Hudson,” Adele spits out. “and that’s without Autotune!”
“You take that back.” Once Eve hears the tone in Sienna’s voice, she knows it’s a bad sign. And once again, her daughters don’t disappoint. By the time she reaches the top of the stairs, she finds them rolling around on the hallway floor, kicking, slapping, scratching, and pulling hair.
Eve’s not sure what’s got into her daughters. Okay, she kind of does: the spirit of competition. It just surprises her because they’ve never competed for anything – or fought this much, if at all. Eve can’t recall them fighting ever. And now because of this damn talent show, that’s all they’ve done over the past two months.
Adele’s always been the singer. As pompous as she’d sounded just now, she was also right. Since she was knee-high, she’s been in choirs, school musicals, performed at churches and recitals, and even employed a voice coach. Singing is her thing. So it was no surprise when she announced she was going to sing at the high school talent show over dinner eight weeks ago over dinner. “I’ve already picked a song,” she’d glowed. “Hallelujah.”
That was when Sienna made an announcement of her own, louder than necessary: “I’m going to be singing in the talent show, too!”
Eve was confused – she’d never heard Sienna sing, ever. So this was news – and a shock – to her . Was she jealous of Adele? Couldn’t be; she’d never acted as much in the past and had made her own fair share of accomplishments. So Eve was baffled as to what was her motivation.
As was Adele, of course. “What? But you don’t even know how to sing!”
Sienna returned her sister’s narrow-eyed glare. “How do you know?”
“Because I’ve never heard you sing!”
“Uh, it’s called a hidden talent.”
“Well, it must be hiding in the Bermuda Triangle!”
Sienna jumped out of her chair so suddenly that it clattered to the floor. “You take that back.”
Adele stood up, too, but with much more grace. “Why should I?”
“Girls,” Eve had warned, but it was too late. Sienna grabbed a handful of mashed potatoes from her plate and launched it at her sister’s head, landing with a splatter. Adele stood there with her eyeglasses completely covered in the goop, looking like a fish out of water as her mouth worked open and closed soundlessly, save the occasional incredulous squeak.
By the time Eve was able to keep her urge to laugh under control, Adele had already wiped most of the starchy substance from her face, picked up her glass of milk, and tossed the entire contents in Sienna’s face. Their mother’s arm suffered some of the splash back.
“Bitch!” To Eva’s shock, Sienna leapt forward with a growl towards Adele, and they started to scuffle against the dinner table so hard that plates and glasses and silverware rattled. That was when Eva jumped into action, pulling them apart and scolding them for their behaviour – just as she’s doing now.
“Stop it! Stop it right now! You’re sixteen years old girls – not children! But since you’re acting as such, I will treat you accordingly. End this right here, right now, or neither of you get to go to the talent show. Do you understand me?”
Dishevelled and panting, the girls exchange a glare as they each mutter a reluctant “Fine.”
“Now go get dressed. You’ve had more than enough practice for tonight. And screaming at each other from the top of your lungs aren’t going to do your voices any favours. Nor will getting a black eye from beating up your own flesh and blood.” Eve waves her hands in the direction of their rooms “Now git! Git! And remember: if I hear one peep – just one – outta any one of you, neither of you get to go tonight.”
Eve waits for their doors to close, lingering a minute more in case of impending ruckus, then. heads back downstairs, cursing the fact that neither daughter had their driver’s license yet. Otherwise, she’d have herself another martini.
One tense but blessedly silent car ride later, Eve enters the school with her daughters in tow as they head towards the auditorium. Behind her, Sienna adopts a super-sweet tone as she addresses Adele. “What is it you’re singing tonight?”
“Hallelujah. I already told you.”
Sienna snorts. “How original.”
“Girls,” Eve warns for the millionth time that night.
The hallway is packed with parents and their children alike. Some of the latter – much like her daughters had been back at home, pre-brawl – are doing eleventh-hour rehearsals, including an obnoxious tuba player. Meanwhile, one of the dads has his daughter’s shoulders in an iron grip, staring intently into her eyes as he says “Remember: second place is first to lose.”
“Sweet Jesus,” murmurs Eve.
Suddenly, a deep male voice breaks through the pandemonium. “Hey! Pardon me! Hey!” Everyone immediately becomes quiet and looks at him, this fellow who’s probably only one or two years older than Eve’s daughters but whose height – and looks – undoubtedly attracted girls ranging from junior high students to senior citizens. He’s holding a clipboard in his hand and wears a headset. “Could all the acts involved in tonight’s show please proceed to the green room? The show is set to start in fifteen minutes. I repeat, the show is set to start in fifteen minutes.” At his command, all the kids – Eve’s girls included – snap into action, forming a line as though by a drill sergeant instead of their fellow student.
Power and influence – one of the popular ones. Eve watches as the boy steps aside to let the line bypass him towards the “green room”, which is really a nearby empty classroom. When Adele reaches the front of the line, she gives him a brilliant smile. “Hiiii Jack.”
Jack returns the expression. “Hi yourself,” he murmurs in a low voice. “Good luck tonight,”
Sienna, who’s standing behind her sister, nudges Adele out of the way. “Hey – what about meee?” she purrs, holding her arms open.
Jack’s dimples could double as parking spaces. “I could never forget you, my love,” he says, embracing her. “Good luck, hun.” Adele watches them, arms folded, glaring.
Ah, there’s the rub. Eve shakes her head, then follows the rest of the parents to the auditorium.
Twenty minutes in and Eve’s need for a vodka martini has reached an all time high. The tuba boy’s performance sounded like two minutes of obnoxious flatulence; the daughter of Mr. “Second is First to Lose” recited a long, boring poem, obviously picked out by her father; and another female student performed a dance routine more suited to a gentleman’s club than a high school talent show.
Jack appears on the stage to announce the next act. “Everyone, please put your hands together for the vocal stylings of Sienna Martin, who will be singing -” He’s cut off when an arm snakes out from backstage; the hand attached to this arm grabs him by the sleeve and pulls him behind the curtain. Everyone in the audience exchanges confused glances as the sound of furious whispering fills the auditorium.
Then Jack is back on stage, smiling as though nothing’s happened. “Sorry about that folks. Just taking care of a little business.” He clears his throat. “As I was saying, next up is Sienna Martin, who’ll be singing Hallelujah.”
As Sienna glides onstage to the sound of applause and the opening bars of “her” song choice, Eve drops her face into her hands.
But Sienna barely gets through the first few lyrics before an enraged, incoherent scream explodes from backstage; it’s quickly followed by Adele. “That’s my song! You’re singing my song!”
Sienna crosses her arms, cool and calm in the face of her sister’s rage. “Um, I believe that the song is actually the creative property of Leonard Cohen.”
Adele stomps one foot. “You know what I mean!” She moves closer to her sister until they’re nearly nose to nose. “You laugh at my song choice, and then have the nerve to sing it?!”
Sienna smirks. “Well, yeah, but it’s such an iconic song that I couldn’t let someone with a voice as bad as yours desicrate it. So what I’m doing tonight is simply saving its integrity. Now if you’ll excuse me.” Sienna turns to face the audience and starts to sign again.
“No!” Adele shoves Sienna, who loses her balance but doesn’t fall. Adele takes advantage of this by picking up where her sister has left off.
Sienna grabs her sister’s arm. “Hey! It’s my turn! You can’t sing yet!” Now she starts to sing again, too, but that only makes Adele sing louder. Which makes Sienna sing louder. Soon they’re shouting the song into each other’s faces.
Eve’s the only one in the audience who isn’t laughing. Instead, she’s paralyzed with shock. The mother of one of her girls’ friends, who’s sitting beside her, nudges Eve with her elbow. “Your girls are so funny.”
“What?” Eve glances at her in confusion. “What are you talking -”
The moment Eve turns her head, distracted by the other mom’s comment, she misses the part where her daughters are once again engaged in another physical brawl as though they’re in a dive bar, each still singing as they fight. (Although they’re really just yelling “Hallelujah, bitch! Hallelujah, bitch!” with each blow.)
Horrified beyond belief, Eve jumps out of her chair, slapping her hands together to get their attention. “Girls! Girls!” she barks.
Apparently, the rest of the audience thinks that she’s giving her daughters a standing ovation, applauding and yelling “Cheers! Cheers!” because that’s exactly what they start doing.
“No!” Eve yells. “Stop!” But it’s pointless; her protests are drowned out by the effusive accolades.
Which also makes Adele and Sienna stop fighting as though they’ve just realized they’re being watched. Limbs still entangled, hair hopelessly mussed, clothing torn, they look at each other, then back at the audience. Adele’s the first to stand, after which, she helps Sienna to her feet. Both girls brush themselves off, exchange another glance, shrug, join hands, and bow with a flourish.
Or: visible proof of why I (probably) didn’t make it as an advertising copywriter.
I’ve made some vague references to my failed career on here; hopefully, I didn’t sound TOO bitter about it. I’ll give myself credit for fighting the good fight, as I tried my hardest to remain in the industry, but I guess it was’t meant to be.
What I’ll miss the most though: Thirsty Thursdays/Fridays. At one agency in particular, they had cases and cases of wine and beer stacked in the kitchen at all times. CASES! That might explain things the next time you see an ad that makes you say to yourself: “WTF were they thinking?!”
Anyway, here are some highlights from my portfolio, not from my brief career, but from ad school, as it was when I graduated, circa 2005. Obviously, I did the writing in the following ads, but I also did the art direction, so that might explain things when you say to yourself: “WTF is up with that shitty-ass ad?” The funny thing is: I’d be lucky to be able to do such poor art direction today, as once I graduated, I no longer needed to know how to use the necessary programs, so I definitely lost what little mastery I had of them. And you wanna know how long ago that was? Yes, I just mentioned the year, but I gotta tell you anyway: one of the programs I used was Quark Xpress.
Some of these didn’t scan very well, so I’ll only display two campaigns. Plus, I don’t want to torture y’all by showing more. Once, during an interview, it took the creative director only 30 seconds of viewing my portfolio before he slammed it shut screaming: “Make it stop! Make it stop!”
Click to enlarge – at your own risk.
Enjoy (or don’t) as I work on a Family-Day themed story. I now have a holiday category, as I have decided to write a story for each holiday. (Sorry for insulting your intelligence; I know that was pretty self-explanatory.) But much like the other two stories in there so far, it’s going to be written and published after the fact. Also, it’ll incorporate one of the exercises from The Writer’s Block, which I haven’t done in forever.
*not a true story.
As seen on a homeless person’s sign a couple years back when I was living in downtown Toronto. I’m not one to give out change to people who make the street their humble abode, but I wanted to give this one money purely based on her wit.
UPDATE: The note worked! It was the long weekend and it looks like my desk wasn’t even used! But it was probably avoided not because they got scared of me like they were of Ross, but because they rolled their eyes at my high-maintenance ass, thinking “What a neurotic bitch.”
I also just fucked up and lost the video of Ross screaming “My sandwich!” Since I can’t access YouTube at work, I will have to put it back when I get home.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m highly neurotic – well, in general, but quite particularly about neatness & cleanliness (ask my ex-roommate; I was the Felix Unger to her Oscar Madison) of Monica Gellar proportions.
But I was more like Ross Gellar this past Monday morning when I got to work, discovering the state of my desk. My workstation was used by a co-worker over the weekend. Not that I minded. I just minded that things were not left in the orderly fashion it had been when I left work the previous Friday.
So I left them a kind reminder.
PLEASE RESPECT THIS WORKSPACE
Feel free to make use of it, as long as you keep in mind that it belongs to someone, so things should be left as you found them.
- It’s OK to adjust the chair to your comfort level, as long as it’s put back at its original level when you’re done.
- It’s OK to use the office supplies in the drawer, as long as everything is put back in its place. If you use up one of these items, please be sure to replenish it.
- Same goes for the items on the desk. If you knock something over, please pick it up and put it back where you found it. And it’s fine if you prefer to use the mouse without the mouse pad, as long it’s back on the mouse pad when you’re done.
- Naturally, personal items are off-limits.
- There’s no need to remove any items tacked to the wall, so please leave them be.
- It’s also ok to use the radio, but please handle it with care or be prepared to replace it. You can even change it to your preferred station – as long as it’s tuned back in to the original one when you’re done. Also, please remember to turn it off.
- Take your belongings with you when you go.
THANK YOU FOR TREATING THIS SPACE WITH RESPECT!
Call me anal, call me an asshole; call me brusque, call me bitchy, or whatever insult from the rest of the alphabet you please. (Just no C words, thanks!) But I likes my shit tidy, so they’d betta recognize.
But apparently, the note was far too polite, as per today’s discovery. So this time I had to let out my inner Pheobe Buffay with this addendum:
- IT IS NOT OK, NOR FUNNY, TO MESS UP MY DESK ON PURPOSE AS A PRACTICAL JOKE, ESPECIALLY UNPLUGGING MY COMPUTER AND REPOSITIONING THE ITEMS ON MY DESK. (AND WHAT DID I *JUST* SAY ABOUT THE MOUSE PAD?!) SERIOUSLY – DON’T.
I swear on my Wonder Woman paraphernalia – all six T-shirts included – that this note is currently tacked to my cubicle wall.
There will be employees coming in to work again this weekend, as to do so is a common occurrence, so it’ll be interesting to see the state of my desk on Tuesday. (Woo-hoo! Three-day weekend!) So if you hear: “MY DESK! They messed up MY DESK!” complete with birds outside flying away in fright echoing towards wherever you are. you’ll know what happened: they didn’t recognize.
And if this results in a psychiatric evaluation, stress leave with pay, and access to Valium, it just might be worth it!
Note: I SO did NOT march around the office asking people if they were the culprit who fucked my shit up. I walked. And I said “messed up” and did not in fact say “shit.” Also, I realize I’m aging my self with my reference to The Odd Couple, and Friends, which ended their series seven years ago this May. Can you believe it?!
ETA: Here’s the actual note!