Oct 272011

No one really knows where the olive tree originally came from, but here is the Olive Crazy version of it’s mythological beginnings.

One day a Phoenician guy, named Cecrops, was sailing past Greece and saw an attractive bit of land for sale. He thought to himself, “That’s some nice real estate. I’d like to build a city there.” He contacted the land agents at the Mount Olympus Real Estate Company and made a deal. Cecrops was now the new owner of a prime tract of sea-front property.

Cecrops worked hard on his new city. He made it very beautiful, but couldn’t come up with a suitable name. About that time, a couple of highly-competitive, local land agent super-stars, Athena and Poseidon, looked down from their elevated offices at the Mount Olympus Real Estate Company and were impressed. They wanted into the action. Maybe they could capitalize on some of those land development drachmas.

Cecrops, who was not a man to miss a public relations opportunity, devised a contest. The land agent who created the most useful gift for the citizens of his unnamed, beautiful city would get the city named after him or her, and as an extra bonus – all the resulting development rights.

When the other land agents at the Mount Olympus Real Estate Company got wind of the contest – they wanted a piece of the action too. Cecrops was thrilled and held a General Council where each land agent got a chance to compete. Each contestant came ready with handouts and laptop. Long speeches were given to accompanying PowerPoint presentations, but …

The General Council was a disaster. Most of the land agents were quickly bored or sleepy. One by one they slunk away and went back to the office. Cecrops kicked himself. He forgot. Land agents have notoriously short attention spans, since their diets consist of mostly booze and sugar.

At the end of the Council, Athena and Poseidon told Cecrops that they were still interested in competing, but it was too late. Cecrops had lapsed into a dark depression which not even his prescription of Eirene-il (the early Greek name for the Roman medication Pax-il) could correct.

About that time, Zeus, the owner of the Mount Olympus Real Estate Company, striking leader, ruthless entrepreneur, arch procreator, and known baby-eater, came to the rescue. In truth, Zeus thought that Cecrops was ruining his and his land agents’ chances of picking up some juicy development contracts. Cecrops got muscled out and Zeus took over.

Zeus took Athena and Poseidon aside and gave them their instructions. “You have one week to prepare your presentations. You have one minute to speak and if I see a single PowerPoint presentation you are immediately disqualified.” Athena and Poseidon were aghast.

“Well I never,” said Poseidon.

“Grumble, grumble, and you thought you had a headache before, old man,” muttered Athena under her breath.

For one week no one saw either Poseidon or Athena, but the citizens of the unnamed, beautiful city could hear a mighty racket coming from the Mount Olympus Real Estate Company. Finally the day of the contest arrived.

Zeus had a fancy gold chair set up for him and a slightly less fancy one set up for his sister-wife, Hera. The local populous was happy that Hera was attending the contest. Whenever she showed up, she made sure the event was catered. “That woman’s got some class,” a local rube was heard to remark at the buffet table.

Poseidon and Athena took their positions on a rocky outcropping where everyone could see them. Poseidon said, “ladies first,” but Athena declined with a smart-alecky, “age before beauty.” Poseidon was impatient and didn’t consider Athena’s remark worth addressing. Poseidon raised his mighty land-agent trident and struck the ground. Out of the rocks beneath his feet sprang a magnificent horse. The citizens were in awe. Poseidon was sure that with all that wonder and admiration directed toward his gift, he would surely win. Poseidon stood smirking and gloating.

Then, before the over-confident Poseidon could give his one minute narrative on the value of his fabulous gift, Athena struck. With a lift of her chin, an olive tree grew from beneath her feet. Poseidon laughed so hard he dried himself and the local populous guffawed.

Undeterred, the clever Athena gave her one minute presentation on the uses of the olive tree. “Out of this tree you receive wood for fire and building, fruit for food and fuel, and leaves for teas and medicines.”

The local skeptics were impressed, and so was Zeus. Athena won the prizes. Cecrops’ new town was named Athens for the clever and practical land agent, and Athena was awarded all the development contracts she wanted. Her first property development project was a temple to herself at the location of the contest.

May the sun shine through your branches.