Young Genius Rhonda RoycebyEgmont0409©
At 9.24 the Monday meeting of senior personnel at Beck, Lane and Russell Advertising was coming to an unproductive close when the company's president Richard Lane was handed a note. He read it and said, "Oh yes of course, we need to promote a young person to our executive ranks so that we have all important sectors of advertising covered by establishing a youth department. Right, who do we promote?"
Everyone bent low in their chair and avoided eye contact with their chairman.
The president sighed and then one of the creative directors Stan Collins said, "If we have no one within our ranks why not appoint my niece Rhonda Royce?" She's a fine arts graduate with a master's and after feeding the pigs on her parent's farm lies back on the grass and contemplates the sky to make sense out of the cloud formations and enters an intense creative mind-set."
The president was about to abuse Stan for wasting time when he stopped to listen to the murmurs of executives from creative:
'Dress in white with a primrose worked bodice Rhonda the niece eyes the heavens and craves enlightenment...'
'Rhonda a pig maiden looked to the east and appeared confused as if knowing that was not the way back to the farmhouse...'
'Covered in pig food slops the curvy farm maiden with a breast hanging loose eyed the dawn and yawned thinking what the fuck had happened to Saturday?'
"All right Stan, wheel her in Monday. That completes for today. Back to earning your money everyone."
Stan got it in the neck over dinner than evening when Rebecca demanded to know everything that had happened in his day. She suspected him of having a closet mistress. Unwisely he related how he'd suggested Rhonda for a position but had the sense not to elaborate.
"What?" screamed his wife. "What about our Dorothea?"
Stan eyed his disinterested daughter with food remains across the side of her mouth and on to her satin top with no evidence of breast development beneath and clawing for a way out smiled triumphantly and said, "Dorothea left school when she was twelve. This position called for a college degree above bachelor's."
"But Dorothea had home schooling?"
Stan wondered whether been commanded to do the housework and hang out the laundry equated to home schooling but smiled and said, "Darling, the minimum, requirement is a college degree."
To the rescue came Dorothea who broke the exchange of hostile looks by asking, "Where's my dessert?"
Stan called his sister Malvina and said he was inviting himself to lunch tomorrow, Saturday.
"Why aren't you including Rebecca and Dorothea?"
"Because Dorothea will be washing floors at the Youth Center and Rebecca is not talking to me."
"Oh then come to lunch."
"Only if Rhonda will be there."
"Rhonda will be there but if you lay one finger..."
"I'll be arriving with a job proposition."
"Oh darling Stan, you know you always are welcome in our home."
* * *
Rhonda thought it was pretty cool that dry old Uncle Stan had won a position for her at the advertising agency on six month's trial without her having to go through the job engagement screening. All she had to take was a CV and documents to substantiate her educational and her work record.
Rhonda thought the lazy way of rural life gave her far too much time for sleeping, eating and being fucked. Surely there ought to be more to life than that?
On Monday the HR assistant manager stared at Rhonda's CV. "You claim to have a Master's in Fine Arts (Visual) and yet you are not quite twenty-one yet?"
"That is a misrepresentation of the truth and I demand an apology Just because I'm young and extremely talented there is no need to put me down. Because of my above average attributes I completed my master's in two years instead of up to six years."
"I need proof of that."
"Copies of my accreditations are inside the back cover of that file you are holding."
"Ohmigod, what you say is true this testimonial form your professor raves about you. These are not false documents are they?"
"Please call your superior. I wish to lodge a personal grievance against you, you stupid cow."
HR manager Wendy Pine, who sat on the executive board, soothed everything down and looking at the college's website found everything she needed to know and said, "Welcome to our team Miss Royce and please accept our apologies; my assistant manager has been under some strain lately that has left her having difficulty in accepting reality."
"That is quite all right. I understand. Who will show me how to run errands and make coffee for my department boss with my being the most junior of all?"
"Your position is executive director of Youth Entertainment & Lifestyle Miss Royce for which you'll received a salary of $62,000 and a new Mercury Milan Hybrid as your company car."
The quick reacting assistant caught Rhonda as her eyes rolled up and she fell.
Rhonda's eyes fluttered open. She lay on the sofa in Wendy's office and was offered iced water that she sipped.
"You have nothing to fear. Although the appointment is for six months and then a review for reappointment on a three-year contact your career with us will go forward. We have not had a youth department before so there is nothing to measure your performance against so providing you interact well and appear positive you are here until your retirement or whatever."
"Who knows whatever is dear?"
Wendy said Rhonda would require a PA and a creative staff of six until she build up business. I have advertised for young graduates and here are thirty applicants to consider including three who are already in our employ. You PA can be assigned to you..."
"Yes that is best, perhaps an older woman."
"That's what our office manager suggested."
"But not to mother me."
"Oh no, to convince people coming in to see you there is an adult present for stability and to engender a sense of an anchor to the past."
"God you visualize well Wendy; I can picture your thoughts."
Wendy was quite taken aback, aware she had just been led into experiencing a profound moment and triggered by one so young. Oh my.
* * *
Three days later reception called and Mrs Rita Malcolm said to her boss, "Mrs Joseph from Youthcraft to see you Rhonda."
"Right Rita, please go and introduce yourself and bring her in. We have rehearsed this."
"Yes indeed. Good luck."
Sara Joseph looked curiously at Rhonda as they were introduced and said, "You are Rhonda Royce, executive director of your agency's heavily promoted new division?"
"Yes indeed; I apologize for not being younger."
The older woman smiled. "Well at least you have confidence and a sense of humor. I'm here to find what you can do for our languishing label."
Sara returned two days later to view the presentation that was just the one display board showed a sole creation for full page ads and billboards.
Before flicking back the black protective cover Rhonda said, "I warn you nobody here apart from my blindly loyal PA likes it and our president says you, as my very first client, will run for the hills. All I ask is try to view it as how a young person would assess it."
"God, you've made me nervous. Very well, I think I can do that; I have two teenage daughters."
Rhonda flicked the cover back over the top of the stylized rendering of a model, aged about eighteen, wearing the garment supplied by Youthcraft, a multi-color horizontal-striped cowl-neck buttoned wrap reaching down half way to the knees. The background was white and the model's skirt, stockings and shoes were just two shades darker white than the background. The text read:
'UGLY. Designed by Youthcraft International. View the UGLY range soon.'
Wringing her fingers, Rita couldn't believe how relaxed Rhonda was standing, looking closely at Sara to read reactions.
Sara brushed her fringe back. She played with her bra straps, never once taking her eyes off the board. Then she said, "I love it. Congratulations. If this is not a masterstroke in fashion then I'm not Sara Joseph."
"Aaaaaagh," screamed Rita and flew at Rhonda and hugged her.
Rita said to Sara, "If you could have seen the negativism, almost hostile at times, but my brave young Rhonda just took it in her stride and smiled. She convinced me young people would take to it because older people wouldn't like the style and the brand name. She's right, isn't she?"
"I would think so Rita, very much on the ball. Unfortunately we cannot launch without support lines coming on stream."
Rita darted off and returned with a folder of thirty drawings.
"They are very basic," Rhonda said apologetically, "but will give your designers a suggested path they ought to follow to design for your UGLY range."
"Ohmigod...OHMIGOD," Sara said, quickly sifting through the drawings.
Beck, Lane and Russell Advertising currently had only two accounts that were truly national campaigns and suddenly the agency had a third, booked, Youthcraft's UGLY range. Scheduled to launch in two months.
At the Monday conference following that booking Rhonda was applauded as she walked into the room with other latecomers.
"We salute you Rhonda," beamed the company president.
Richard Lane held up a copy of 'Advertising Agency On-line Bulletin', just posted for access restricted to subscribers.. It appeared no one else had seen it.
The lead item with a college file photo of Rhonda beside it crowed, 'Advertising's Youngest Sensation' and described how Rhonda (20) as probably the youngest creative director in advertising, had won a contract from her very first client Yourthcraft for $12.3 million to launch its new UGLY range.
'No one thought Rhonda could do it but as the co-owner of Youthcraft Sara Joseph says, Rhonda's creativity, originality and being acutely attuned with the lucrative teenage segment of our market gelled so well, her presentation just blew her away. "Our think tank had come up with the new range being called Girly but Rhonda simply looked beyond that and our designs and came up with this novel approach of UGLY, using a thigh-high wrap to brand the range and then supplied a range of 30 garments she'd sketched herself to complete the range."
"My lights almost went out because of its brilliance." Sara Joseph said.'
Richard finished the article reading, 'Advertising On-line attempted to interview Rhonda but she was too busy that day to talk and we were right on our deadline. So we asked her assistant to ask Rhonda what was her comment when told she won the contract and the message came back, 'Awesome. Mrs Joseph was such a darling to work with.'
'We ask, how many of us speak of our clients with that genuine respect?'
Rhonda appeared on TV that evening and was interviewed along with Sara Joseph for a full page story in next day's morning newspaper The Clarion. And then just as suddenly the talk of newcomer Rhonda Royce died, and she was very happy about that because the fuss had embarrassed her. As she told the directors when they handed her a special bonus, "I was only doing my job." She sounded so convincing they had no choice but to believe her.
Back in her office Rhonda had Rebecca order a case of her Uncle Stan's favorite red wine to be delivered to his home and on the way home that evening purchased tickets for her parents to go on a 7-night cruise from Vancouver British Columbia to Seward, Alaska in a cabin with veranda that they'd always talked about taking. She presented the gift thanking them for the support they had given her especially during through schooling when she'd been accelerated though classes to become the second youngest student to be accepted by her college.
The pretty, slim blonde went to work next day feeling very happy, being at the top of her game although aware the game had only just started. Business flowed into her department and she'd taken on two more assistants.
One morning she arrived at her office early, ahead of Rita, to find a suave black hair guy sitting in her chair.
"Good morning," he said.
"Hi, may I get you coffee?"
"I thought your first action would be to order me out of your chair?"
"If you are a client you are welcome to stay there but if you are the courier guy I'll kick your butt, but I have yet to meet a courier guy wearing a six hundred dollar suit."
"God you noticed. I spent the big bucks and have been left ruing my expensive purchase, thinking no one would notice."
"Some people like me would notice you even if you were in full cut briefs."
Hi grinned. "Hi I'm Mark Williams-Ryan."
Rhonda spun in surprise, "Celeste Williams-Ryan's son?"
"You know my mother?"
"Only be reputation."
"I'm surprised. She's been out of the limelight for a generation, bringing up Glenys and me."
"Celeste Williams as she was before her marriage was in fashion and I read fashion, even going right back beyond her days. Besides, she is the only true super model from this state."
"Do you mind if I tell her this?"
"Please yourself. It's not classified."
He grinned. "Mom wanted to hire a big name agency to build her campaign but I suggested she ought to try you."
"God you sound like my mom. That's what she said. You are supposed to gush you are so charmed and elated that I recommended you?"
"Why? What counts is what your mother thinks?"
"Oooh, that sounds like a sharp and incisive mind. Could I also say it gives me the chance of meeting you because my mom says she will call for submissions from five agencies. You are to go to her..."
"Excuse me, you have that the wrong way round. People come to me."
"Mother is very busy."
Rhonda said sternly, "And I'm not?"
Mark took his coffee with a smile.
"God you do have it, don't you? I'm an instructor in business studies at Clifton University, specializing in mediation, negotiation and general discussion management."
Rhonda said confidently, "You have the demeanor indicating you'd be successful in delivering the techniques and strategies in that field."
"So what do you know about demeanor?"
"I knew it as confidence when I was a kid and later found the grown-up version was called demeanor. You control how people listen to you and regard you by excellent demeanor, speaking simply, briefly and directly and controlling your hands, eyes and other gestures. I know about this intimately because I've studied art and specialized in portraiture. Before starting a portrait the painter needs to examine demeanor because it indicates personal conduct, manners, traits and indeed can open a complete toolbox of knowledge about the person she or he is about to paint."
"My god, and here was I thinking a painter just slapped a bit of paint on to canvas."
Eyeing Mark, Rhonda said, "Okay what was Rococo?"
"A style of 18th Century French painting and interior design."
"Very good. I didn't think Celeste Ryan's son would be educated to think a portrait painter just slapped paint on to canvas."
"Rhonda, you are very, very good. Beyond my expectations and already I was impressed watching you on TV and reading that huge interview with you published in The Clarion. Here, please take my mother's card and send your CV and photo and statement about availability plus of course your submission. My mother has been engaged by the National Research into Birth Deformities Trust to raise $5 million to bolster research funding and has agreement of a raft of big businesses to match public donations dollar for dollar during the 2-month run of the campaign."
"What is the budget?"
Mark pulled a face. "What do you see?"
"Nothing. You'll learn about it in my submission. Does you mother realize I could only work on this project on commercial rates?"
"I would think so."
"Good then goodbye, I need to get on with my work."
That startled Mark. "Aren't you going to indicate your level of interest?"
"I've very interested. It's a worthy cause."
"When can I see you again?"
"Saturday night I'm free."
"Oh, I have a girl friend I date."
"Well that's the end of us before there's any chance of us tangling, isn't it? Now if you would excuse me?"
"Yes of course."
* * *
Celeste said that night when Mark and his father Charles, Chief Assistant District Attorney, arrived home, "Well this girl, what did she say?"
"She is very interested and will send you a proposal."
"But I wish to see her?"
"I told her she would have to come to you but she said she was too busy so I briefed her."
Celeste said rather miffed, "Too busy... the cheek of the girl. Well she's off the list."
"Mom drink this and keep calm. She is one of the most incredible young women I've ever met and would think she has stayed clear of drugs, booze and group sex. She bubbles and knowledge and awareness just flows."
"Bubbles, how can anyone bubble?"
Mark grinned. "Like I see in those films we play of you were you were young, rising to the peak of your career."
Charles entering the room and said, "Indeed, I'd call that bubbling."
Celeste smiled and looked at her two favorite men. "Let's invite this little eager-beaver to dinner Saturday night."
"Mom I was thinking of taking Charlotte to..."
"Take her Sunday evening."
"Very well, I'll invite..."
"I shall do it thank you Mark. Please give me the address where she works."
"You mean her phone number?"
"Yes and where she works."
Mark was twenty-eight with a doctorate in business administration and had secured a position at his university as an assistant professor from the start of the next semester. He was academically minded and had no desire to work in the real world, preferring instead to prepare students to take that route. He looked forward to taking on more senior lecturing roles as he progressed up the academic ladder.
He thought more and more about Rhonda, knowing she appeared to be available on Saturday night and would scarcely turn down the opportunity of socializing with his mother.
The doorbell went and he called he'd take it but his mom who was preparing the meal called she was already on her way so he continued thinking about the remarkable Rhonda who appeared to be a lateral thinker and operated laterally, as far as he could make out. His mother came into the study, still looking surprised.
"It's your girlfriend's submission. How could she do a presentation that quickly?"
"Open it and prepare to be surprised mother. I don't think she thinks like you and I do which is normal thinking."
"Ohmigod... she wants a budget of three million to raise fifteen million plus and says I should not be wasting my talent and fine mind on anything less and such success could only increase my reputation although the converse would apply if the campaign bombed."
"There you go mother. I told you not to expect what you would expect."
"I called her an hour ago to invite her on Saturday night and she made no mention a courier pack was on the way."
"Those stickers indicate it was the so-called rocket delivery by Zillion Couriers. It guarantees delivery anywhere in the city within an hour. So the package may have been in the hands of the courier company when you called. Did she accept?"
"Yes, and seemed delighted. She has a lovely voice for a twenty year old. But why wouldn't she have said she was about to send me a package?"
"I am not your official oracle mother but I would say the invitation she viewed as social and the package she viewed as business and considered it inappropriate to mix the two."
"That can't be correct. Aged twenty she would be unable to resist."
"Pardon me mother but I did indicate earlier we weren't dealing with the usual run-of-the-mill young woman. Rhonda resisted."
"Well I never."
Mark thought about his relationship with Charlotte. Although they were having sex it still seemed an arm's length relationship, er almost semi-formal. Also Charlotte was more about taking rather than giving or better still giving and taking in a balanced manner, riding with the flow so to speak. Now in comparison... Mark stopped, knowing it was not necessary to go on because there was no comparison. He knew without thinking Rhonda was endearing, warm, exciting and possibly his intellectual superior. Whatever she was Rhonda was hot. He decided not to call Charlotte to arrange to meet over the weekend.