Like most of my promises, I'm a day late in making good on declaring a winner for the caption contest, but as punishment for my tardiness I'm picking two. Merry Jelinek, for her therapy story to go along with the Santa picture, and Jason for being the only person to correctly identify me as the face behind the white beard.
That's right folks, that is me lurking beneath those snow-white whiskers and red hat. And here is the real story of how I became a mall Santa and happened to have a six foot plus two hundred and something pound red-headed man sitting on my lap.
The years was 2001. I was just shy of my 29th birthday, far too young to make a good Santa but then again I never claimed I was a good Santa. The previous spring I had agreed to play the Easter Bunny at the mall so the Santa gig was my second stint for the company. Who ran the company -- the red headed man on my lap, who also happened to be my boss at the Post Office. He knew I had a new family and could use a bit of extra money so he hired me for nights and weekends.
The Easter Bunny was easy. Ten bucks and hours plus commission if we met our goals of getting so many pictures. Later, I will share some Bunny stories, which are actually funnier than the Santa ones, but y'all will have to wait for spring for those. The good thing about the Easter Bunny was I just had to sit there in my suit. No talking, no Ho, Ho, Ho'ing. Just wave and sweat in a gimongous fur covered suit while the sun beat in through the mall's atrium windows. Easy money.
There was nothing easy about being Santa. First, because I was young and my eyebrows are black, I had to get this wax pencil and color my brows white each time I donned the suit. Also the middle part of my moustache bled through the fake beard so I'd have to use the pencil to color what I'll call the Hitler portion of my 'stache white as well. Then, despite having a fairly ample gut of my own, I'd have to tie this big poofy pillowed girdle around my torso. Then I'd slip into the red velour trousers and shirt, hoist up the black suspenders, and then slip into the leather boots. Did you know Santa's footwear isn't much different from a Hell's Angel's?
Last, I'd slide the beard into place. It itched like hell and those little fine grey hairs constantly found their way inside my mouth and nostrils. They tickled like hell and over the course of a night spitting out the hairs and keeping them out of my nose proved to be nerve racking. For all I know they gather that crap my the backside of Polar Bears so who the hell knows what kind of germs I was ingesting. Of course every sick and snotty nosed kid in town ended up on my lap, so it didn't really make a difference.
So after a half hour of getting dressed I'd wait for the Santa on duty before me to come back so I could take his place on the throne. Then the fun would really start.
At Easter you might get three or four people in line at the busiest time. The parents are calm and relaxed for the most part since they haven't spent all day running around from store to store maxing out their credit cards in the name of good cheer.
Christmas was an entirely different story. After a ten minute break the line would be twenty screaming kids long. Parents would be eyeballing their watches and scowling like constipated elves forced to eat prune-laced fruitcake.
Between now and Christmas I'm gonna tell y'all many a tale of what went on after that. From sad, to funny, to head shaking, people- are-crazy. But I just might have been the craziest of them all. I also might have been the worst mall Santa the world has ever witnessed, but my pain, and the scarred memories of many a child is y'alls gain. So get ready to read all about, The Saga of a Second Rate Santa.
** a couple of notes**
The man on my lap's name is Galen, As I said he was the boss at the Post Office at one time. I took a good amount of flack for working for him on the side. Things like Santa's nose is supposed to be red, not brown. This picture was taken to really give them something to talk about and to prove I could take anything they wanted to dish out. Don't worry I paid them back. If there is one thing I'm good at it is getting even, or even better getting ahead.
Merry and Jason. Y'all can pick between a homemade CD of some of the finest Texas music you've ever heard, or a book from my personal library. Your choice. If you prefer a book let me know and I'll send you a list of five or six to choose from.