Monday, December 23, 2013
Reflections Of A Mall Santa
Here's another old column from my former newspaper run. Seemed timely :-)
Musings Of A (Bruised) Mall Santa
BLECH!! This blasted fake beard is about the itchiest thing ever invented!! I’ve just started my shift, and it’s already making my cheeks puff up like a blowfish with seaweed allergies. No matter where I brush this stupid synthetic “hair” off to, it still crawls into my ears, my eyes, my nose…and let me tell you – trying to chew gum with stray nylon strands getting caught in between my teeth has been a royal pain in the patootie!! Egads, man!
Oh well, just seven more hours to go, and this plasticized facial ferret is coming off – until then, I’ll just have to muster up my mental “happy place”, and ignore the infernal itching.
You know, it wouldn’t hurt to try tuning out all these toddlers suffering from “Holler-Mania” either – but I suppose I should have expected this cavalcade of kiddies when I signed up for the gig. Although, to be fair, they’re not all big fans of mine either. Who knew so many kids were scared to death of a big bearded man in outlandish clothing? I swear, some of them must think I look like a starving red velvet shark, the way they scream when their parents hand them over to me. To be fair, I guess I should stick to the script, and just give a jolly “Ho Ho Ho”, instead of roaring like a lion…Hee Hee!
Yes, those unpleasant moments seem like the darkest hour of your day as a mall Santa - until the miniature Geraldo Rivera, fakir exposers show up, telling you point-blank that they know you’re not the real deal. To prove the point, they tug at your fake beard, or pull off the fur-trimmed hat and wig. Once they do settle in for their reluctant visit, they flail around and suddenly a wayward kick gives ole Santa a surprise you always find so funny on “America’s Funniest Videos”, which frankly isn’t so funny when it happens to you. In fact, at that instant even the saintliest Santa will be inclined to heartily invoke several of George Carlin’s “seven words you can’t say on TV”…
Ah, but then there are the kids that have totally bought in to the illusion. To see the look of wonder and awe in their eyes, well, it almost makes the shooting pains up my derriere and back worth all the suffering. Those are the magic moments.
Funny thing is, when you’re walking through the mall after changing into Saint Nick, everyone is smiling as you pass them by. Seeing Santa is like having someone flick on a smile switch, bringing an irresistible moment of joy to an otherwise harried day of shopping or work. Now, you try getting that reaction by sitting on a bench in the mall wearing your street clothes, while waving and hollering “Ho Ho Ho”! Go ahead, I dare you. Remember, you’re allowed one phone call, and make sure the person on the other end of the line has bail money!
Well, this is one of those lulls in the action. No kids in line. Maybe ole Santa can …oh-oh! This isn’t good. Feeling like I needed a little sugar fix to get me through to lunch time, I decided to try snacking on a candy cane. But I think my whiskers are sticking to the candy!! Good grief – those nylon strands are flippin’ stretchy! Maybe if I tug really fast and hard…oh-oh…Y-OUCH!! That’s my real moustache!!
Eddie Elf, put up the sign – Santa has to go feed his reindeer…