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 mustache 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.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Then there were the older people, women mostly, but a few men as well. They were a mixed bag. Some were all too eager to sit on Ol' Saint Nick's lap and reveal their heart's desire and then ran the gamut from ...
The Good - An entire shift of Hooter's girls, a couple of shapely twins, and pretty young woman who only wanted to ask Santa for her fiance to be sent back stateside from Croatia in time for their planned Valentine's day wedding.
The Bad - An obviously gay man in a trench coat, no I can't say for certain that he had on anything else, the women who obviously had some kind of Santa fetish and delighted in making my cheeks rosy, and the plethora of hacking, wheezing flu ravaged people who thought I as a mall Santa had the magical ability to ward off disease.
The Ugly - The ugly took many, many forms and will be fodder for this series throughout. When I say ugly I don't just mean physically though Frosty knows there were plenty that filled that sleigh. Along with the aesthetically challenged I had to deal with the hygiene deficient, the personality perplexed, and the downright delusional that actually thought I could fulfill their wishes. Then, there were those who fell into all of those categories and then some. Like the couple from today's installment.
It was early on, in that first week after Thanksgiving, before I'd become completely jaded against the entire legend of Santa Claus. I'd already encountered a few weird things, but I chalked those up as anomalies. The night had been steady but far from the hectic madhouse it would become in a few short weeks, and with less than an hour to go until the mall closed I was feeling rather jolly. (A couple of weeks alter the mall started staying open til midnight and then with an hour to go I was just trying to sane.) Most of the elves had gone come so it was just Galen and me. He took the pictures, I smiled and took the kids list.
But our next customers were far from being kids. And as they walked up Galen whispered out the the side of his mouth, "Get a load of these two."
They were in their early twenties. She had on a pair of ratty red sweat pants that were two sizes two small and with her rotund build the overall package looked sort of like Santa's gift bag. If it were overstuffed with about two dozen Christmas hams. The woman's hair hadn't seen a brush since Prancer was nothing but a twinkle in his mother's eye, but she wore enough make-up to make Rudolph's nose seem dull.
In stereo-typical fashion her boyfriend was as skinny as she was large. His body was all angles and bones, like a broken up candy cane. And there was a smudge above his upper lip that could have been a moustache or a smudge of soot. A chain hung from his grease-stained jeans and the cap on his head said something like, Truckers Do It For The Long Haul.
I made room for them to sit one on each side but of course she plopped down right on my left knee. With a pat on my right, she said, "Bobby you sit here."
He shook his head. "I don't think so." His filthy hair hung stiff like icicles. Though I'd never seen icicles made of oil. But just because I'd never seen it didn't mean 10w-40 didn't freeze.
Like I said, I still had a bit of holiday cheer in me so I gave Jack Sprat and his girlfriend a hearty, "Merry Christmas!"
He mumbled something that might have been " F ... off and die," but I can't say for certain.
Next as was customary I asked what they wanted Santa to bring them this year.
She giggled and said, "An engagement ring would be nice."
"Dream on," he answered.
"Maybe a puppy then."
He cast her a dirty look. "What are you stupid?" You know my mom is allergic."
She returned his nasty expression with one of her own. "Then maybe we could move to a place of our own."
At this point Galen said smile and the flash went off just as the boyfriend said, "This is bullshit. I ain't made of money."
He grabbed the girls hand and yanked her down from my lap. My knee thanked him.
Galen said to them," Want to have a look at your picture?"
"Hell no. We ain't buying no effin picture."
"The girl stopped walking. She crossed her arms across her chest and stuck out her bottom lip like a two year old. "I want a picture."
"I just do."
He hauled out his wallet by tugging on the chain." Okay, but this counts as part of your present."
As he paid Galen, the girl said, "Gawd, Bobby you can be an asshole."
He shrugged. "And you can be a bitch."
Smiling, she draped an arm across his skinny waist and slid her hand into his back pocket. "I know, but that's why you love me."
Galen handed the happy couple their photo and they walked away, arm in arm. Just before they rounded the corner he grabbed a handful of her ample sweatpant covered ham.