I Have a Daughter Named Julia
Often times, Levi tired of being surrounded by ancient men. They were responsible for the success and past progress of the company and they had every right to have a strong hand on its future, but he always felt so small beside them. They were like giant statues, always sat upright in their chairs with a stick up their ass. They spoke quietly and without passion. Their flames had burnt out long ago and now they ran off of dollar signs and black coffee. Their positions on the company’s youth marketing team meant only paychecks. They had no desire to make a mark on the business. They’d made their marks long ago, he supposed.
Every Friday, they sat around a long rectangular table, all coffee cups and stained suit cuffs. They listened patiently to the report on the ups and the downs, the ins and outs of sales the previous week. After the report they were to discuss the current project, individual assignments, and ideas for new campaigns. They also discussed “hitman campaigns”, marketing jobs that were done for other companies or businesses for some a determined sum of money. They all sat in the same seats. They came with the same cuff links and dry small talk. They had the same, reused ideas. They all let the same boring, dusty characters dribble from their slow lips. Levi couldn’t stand it.
Levi was the youngest of the small group of 10. At 35, he had a 17 year gap between the second youngest. He entered the team through a promotion and immediately felt out of his element around the men he was to call his coworkers. They seemed so out of place, all sporting smartphones and laptops that they had no idea how to use, let alone sell to high school kids. They knew shit-all about “kids these days”. All their kids were grown adults with their own jobs at this point. Levi had his own daughter, who was just turning 15 and he would think about her every time they were deciding on a campaign strategy. He thought to himself every time how pointless their new magazine ad would have been to him 15 years ago or how ridiculous their next commercial would seem to his daughter now. Even though his head ached every time they began their weekly regurgitation cycle, he never wholeheartedly protested their ideas, which seemed much more like predetermined plans.
It always seemed like the men all shared one mind, with the same uncreative suggestions. They were all the same aged man multiplied into 9 bodies. Here they sat, once again, halfheartedly listening to and agreeing with each other. The group was designing their next ad campaign that would market a tablet towards high school students that would be good for both school as well as personal use. The commercials they were mapping out were dry, plain, and humorless. There was no excitement, nothing that would appeal to the younger generation. The other men that sat around him apparently did not understand this, and they all nodded along and drooled about budget costs on extras and graphic designers. Levi groaned. All eyes turned to him. The sudden attention of the men startled him and caused him to sit up straighter, mimicking their proper posture. They looked at him in similar surprise. Other than the occasional, quiet comment about his daughter, he didn’t often speak during their meetings. He just nodded silently and left to get started on the work afterwards.
“Is there something you’d like to comment on, Mr. Rousseau?” one of the eldest men spoke. He acted as the coordinator for their meetings and would deliver their financial reports each week. As he spoke, his peppery mustache twitched on his upper lip. Levi let his lips fall open, then pulled them shut again. His heart began to beat faster, the unfamiliar confrontation making him feel more out of place among the men than usual
“I just…,” he hesitated, looking for his lost words. He was amazed that he was being handed this opportunity. He always had the power to say something, but never had the balls. Now, though, they had their eyes on him and were actually asking. He could barely articulate his words. His thoughts suddenly jumbled from both excitement and nerves “I just think that, maybe we should take into consideration-”
“Our design up this point was just fine. We should just keep looking’ forward. We’ve got a lot to get done, anyways. There’s no need to go changing-”
“No, Kelston, the design was not fine,” Levi immediately countered another man, Richard Kelston, who was one of the most talkative of the group. Levi sat a bit straighter and took a second to continue speaking to the suits and ties that looked back at him. “The design was shit, the model is shit, and these ideas are shit. We need something new for Christ’s sake.” He spoke with a heat to his voice and the men listened.
“We need to try something that hasn’t been done a thousand times already. All these spit-back commercials are tiresome. Nobody’s listening to us anymore and there’s a reason for that! There needs to be some changes.” He paused and eyed his coworkers. Michaels, the eldest, spoke again, tone much softer or perhaps submissive, compared to Levi’s:
“Well, then what do you suggest?” The men all seemed to lean back in their chairs at the same time and Levi saw it immediately. He froze for a moment, having expected a much different retort. After a moment he smile and laughed, letting his voice return to a proper volume as well.
“I have a daughter named Julia.”