The Grapes Have Gone Sour

Super JJ will tell me that I am sourgraping.

It all started when The Shoe Factory announced that there will be a contest for the best decorated work area on the factory floor. Some Unimaginative Shoemaker assigned a few elves (including myself) to be the ones who’d take care of preparations. However, at the last minute, other Unimaginative Shoemakers decided that I should not be included in the preparations because I was part of a group of elves who had the most workload for the month. Still, I had already given my word to those elves tapped for the Halloween decorations contest and I was with them when I was off duty.

The Halloween Committee established fort at Daphy’s house, a real strategic headquarters, because it is quite near The Shoe Factory and a gustatory haven to boot; there were snacks every two hours. Our calorie count rose as the day of the contest neared.

Our work in the understaffed “Halloween Committee” involved the following:

  • wrestling yards and yards of newspaper and transforming these into twines, after which they were painted to resemble vines or intestines or hair or umbilical cords (depending how one’s imagination interpreted the finished product);
  • painting cardboards to be later assembled into baguas (Tamark wanted a horror-flick-based concept, and chose Kulam, Feng Shui, and The Ring as the bases for the decor — hence the baguas). Super JJ and I were tasked to do this one evening, and we were quite smug, feeling a sense of accomplishment because of our effort. However, both our egos were quickly brought back down to earth when Suzette, wielding the sword of truth and practicality, came by our work area and deadpanned: “You could just have bought red paper and cut it to shape instead of making the effort of cutting, painting, and drying those cardboard sheets.” Ouch. But a funny ouch. In our effort to go after complexity and crafts(wo)manship, we neglected that the simplest things had more oomph;
  • sewing voodoo dolls for the “kulam concept.” This was the most enjoyable bit of the work, second only to the snack times;
  • going off to Dumaguete for some last-minute purchases of materials that were missed in the initial shopping spree.

The work lasted for three days, full swing. Daphy’s front yard resembled a factory where the workers had run amok; the scraps, blobs, fibers, and splatter of our work strewn all over the place. Daphy’s housekeeper can’t decide if she should be amused or distressed.

Daphy loaned her antique jars, and I went home to the tropical jungle to get the family collection of Afrikaan statues and some knick knacks from my trip to Indonesia… these were used as props for a sacrificial altar. For several days, the Halloween crew wandered around The Shoe Factory with a glazed look of those who had so many sleepless nights from trying to balance being good elves and working in their regular shifts while also working and preparing for the contest. Some Unimaginative Shoemaker, the one who has no sensuality in her soul, had the gall to say that we were making a career out of being in the Halloween Committee. I had to control myself from naming one voodoo doll after her and sticking a million pins into its plush body in her honor.

We did what we did out of our love for the work and a sense of being part of the factory, and that exalted Unimaginative Shoemaker can’t get it… not in a million years. For her, the most important thing is that the MSExcel graphs show an arrow with an upward trend.

Then, the day of the contest came. We had our baguas and voodoo dolls and vines installed in the Shoe Factory. The Ring was playing in a TV, courtesy of Daphy. Candles burned in their holders. The elves in other departments were also busy as well, being spooky.

So, the judges came by to look at our work… In all honesty, I had thought that they are going to stick by their criteria, which was handed to us a couple of weeks ago, when they came and checked things out. There was a big percentage for “concept,” “chill factor” and “originality.” Still, my jaw dropped when one of the judges interviewing Tamark asked “Why are you not in costume?” Eeep! What the f***!? There was nothing in the criteria saying anything about costumes.

And so, another year came to pass in this losing streak of the Halloween contest, we didn’t win… No costumes. No award. Hehehe. First prize went to the work area where they had a demon and a walking corpse. Those elves draped a black cloth over everything. If I had known, we would have just sewn death shrouds for everybody. Never mind the vines, never mind the baguas, never mind the hundreds of teeny voodoo dolls. Just the death shrouds would have been enough.

This morning, I looked over at the piece of paper where the criteria was written. I must have had the wrong copy because there was nothing there telling us that people occupying the work stations should be wearing costumes.
[picture of bagua courtesy of; voodoo doll of;]


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