Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

Romance, Revenge and the SAM Christmas Dinner

SAM’s Xmas dinner was a great one this year. It always comes with a price, though – in order to be included in this exclusive feast of wine and lobster, you must bring a White Elephant gift.

The X-Mas Dinner Spread

I thought long and hard about what to bring, and frankly it stressed me out a bit. I started to think through what I had – a spare picture frame, photo-shop skills, a photo printer. All these things add up, but a final ingredient made everything come together: the desire for revenge.

I had been the brunt of a few jokes in the sales department, those strapping men who drive fast cars but gossip like school girls at the faintest hint of romance: I went to lunch with a girl, and weeks later, Arthur was still prodding me about the marriage plans. My walk from the creative wing down to the sales department became a passage through that affectionate verbal gauntlet common to most male workforce interaction.

Kim knows what I'm talking about...

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the interaction. However, I am not one for immediate retaliation either. If I feel the need to save face, I’ll smile, nod and laugh along, then later when you aren’t looking I’ll slap you in the back of the head so hard your glasses fall off. It’s more fun for me that way. So, in this vein, it dawned on me that the White Elephant gift represented a beautiful opportunity to bring things back around. And to do so tastefully.

I started scouting the company server to find an old funny picture of one of the culprits. Quite honestly, the possibilities, when mixed with a little photo-shop trickery, were endless. I knew who my targets were: Joe and Arthur. Andy, the new guy, might take it a little hard, not to mention the shortage of his pictures on the server, so I really had no choice but one of the top dogs.

Understanding how creative business works, I did a few mockups:

Here's Joe Faulkner with his good friend Joe Faulkner.

Arthur Casias on vacation in California.

However, an axiom I try to live by: natural is better. If you can find something that requires no manipulation and still meets your needs, it will almost always be better than something you have to tweak endlessly (for example, Arthur’s chin above). Knowing this, imagine how elated I was when I stumbled across this gem:

"I am Arthur, hear me roar." Photography by Paul West.

Ultimately, as the ringleader, it was Arthur who I felt deserved the proverbial slap in the back of the head, even though Joe and Andy participated in the friendly banter. So I printed the above photo, practiced Arthur’s signature twice, then dreamily signed his name across the left side with plenty of x’s and o’s. I wrapped it up and headed to the Christmas dinner, where I nervously wondered how everyone would react. Too much? Maybe…

But luckily, they loved it. Even Arthur. Predictably, he still gives me a hard time about said lunch date. But hey, that’s just what sales guys do. (Chest bump)

Arthur, Chad and Joe with Arthur's beautiful b&w head shot.

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