Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Second Rate Santa and the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ... but mostly the Ugly.

When you mention mall Santa's, most people think of kids, and probably 90% of the people who stood in line and came to sit on my lap were under the age of twelve. Then you had the older kids who hated to be there but their parents still wanted that yearly picture so they forced them to shuffle up and plop down beside Santa in the over-sized chair. There was no way those 'tweens and teenagers were about to sit on my, or any other Santa's lap.

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."
"What for?"
"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 he grabbed a handful of her ample sweatpant covered ham.


Chris Eldin said...

I really wasn't going to read this all the way through right now. I've been on here for more than an hour, so....

But I couldn't help it. This was sooo good!! (and so sad too)

I loved 'broken candy cane' analogy.

Your descriptions of these two people are amazing. I see them. Hear them. Smell them.

I can't wait to read more of your Santa stories!!!!


Sherry said...

So have you considered writing a novel about this??? I mean, you've already got the "meat" (note I didn't say "ham") of the book right's hysterically funny...the truth is usually stranger than fiction anyway. I say go for it....

And by the way, thanks for being a sweetie and leaving me such a nice birthday wish!!

Kristen Painter said...

LOL - I, too, loved the broken candy cane. Great stuff.

Monnik said...

oh man, this is great. Love the stories, Travis.

You've led such an interesting life. Or maybe it's just your knack for capturing details in your life that makes things interesting. Either way, it's a hit!

alex keto said...

If this doesn't scream short story fodder, nothing does.

Tena Russ said...

Great stuff, Travis.

Have your read "Holidays on Ice" by David Sedaris?

Mr. Shife said...

Great stuff Travis. Look forward to hearing more of your holiday stories.

Stephen Parrish said...

The writing is spectacular, Travis. And I agree there's a book here, but memoir rather than fiction: Guess Who's Been Sitting in My Lap? Confessions of a Shopping Mall Santa.

Sam said...

These Santa stories are amazingly good - and funny - and sad.
Ho Ho Ho!
Makes me think of one I saw on 'Tetes a Claques' where the kid is screaming 'imposter, imposter!' at the fake santa.

Anonymous said...

Great story!

Bernita said...

Alex and Stephen are right!
Whether a short story or a longer series.
This is Very Well Done.

preTzel said...

Uhm, I was going to eat breakfast after reading your blog but now my appetite has quickly fled. I know now, 100% sure, that there won't be no effin' Christmas ham on my table either because I won't be able to look at ham the same way again. Gross!

Oil can not least I don't think so.

And when I go to buy more ornaments for my tree - I'm skipping the candy cane aisle. I'll never be able to suck one again. Ever.

Thanks Travis. You've totally ruined my appetite, taken away my desire for ham, and totally ruined my candy - cane - sucking fetish. Mr. preTzel won't be happy with you. :o)

Great piece and I also think you need to make this in to a short story or small novella.

Aaron said...

Best Christmas post EVAR!!1!1

Charles Gramlich said...

It's good to see young love.

Travis Erwin said...

Wow, I never expected y'all to react so posistivley. In trut, I worried this story was a tad too boring since it is more of a charachter sketch than a complete story.

I only spent the one year as a mall santa so I'm not sure I have enough material to fill an entire collection of these and I shudder at teh thought that I'd have to sign up for another year in the name of research if I wanted to write more on the subject.

Thanks to all of you for commenting.

alex keto said...

Most every story about santa concentrates on the santas. Kind of boring. But this story concentrates on the people who see santa. so new.

Anonymous said...

Gotta hear more about that couple, Travis. Surely, they have inspired you to compose a white trash story...

Erica Orloff said...

Wow . . .

there's a book in here somewhere. Very funny stuff. And you know, in the end, these two were made for each other in a Christmasy-sweet kind of way.

Fiona Mackenzie. Writer said...

I would have paid money to read this and it would have been cheap at half the price - brilliant Travis!

March2theSea said...

thanks for stopping over my blog and commenting. Wanted to return the favor..gonna go trolling your site...

Bubblewench said...

LMAO! That is some fantastic imagary! Love it!

Carleen Brice said...

Funny and heartbreaking too! Hope these people end up in one of your books, but something tells me even if they don't we'll get a kick out whoever you introduce us to.

Redneck Mommy said...

I have never felt more festive than I do now after reading about your Santa escapades. Thanks for sharing.

I'll forever look at mall Santas with a newly found respect and a bit of awe!