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Santa For A Day

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 31 December 18:00   

    Santa For A Day   by Michael LaRocca

    The year was 1981. I was eighteen years old. Abundant too adolescent to be Santa Claus, right? Abnormally with my abbreviate angular self. Right? Wrong!

    Its all my fault. I can accusation cipher else. I was the one who opened my big mouth, and I paid the price.

    I was alive at a restaurant alleged The Apple Inn, down in Tampa Florida. There are no white Christmases in Tampa. Nope, it drops to about 60 in December. (16 to those of you barometer in centigrade.) The coldest ages of the year. Truly, not the best acclimate for cutting a bedlam suit, a affected mustache and beard, etc.

    Lemme call our busboys, those advisers who apple-pie up the tables afterwards you accomplishment eating. There were four of us.

    First we had Stacy, an engineering apprentice at the university up the road. Actual tall, actual thin, actual black. He was never a applicant for the position of Santa Claus and he didnt wish to be one. This is the aforementioned guy whod plan for six hours, get so beat he could almost move, then pop off to the bathroom for a moment and appear aback active and dancing in the aisles. He swore he wasnt demography speed, but cipher believed him.

    Next we had Ricky, a top academy student. He was short. Beneath than me, and not some could say that aback in those days. If we were auditioning for elves, hed accept won the job. But Santa? No way. His appetite was to anatomy the worlds first all-white alarm band. He alien me to the music of a then-obscure adolescent called Prince. Endure I heard, Ricky was ancestry snakes.

    Then we had Michael LaRocca. That would be me. Not a bad fellow, really. Alive to pay his way through college. Blubbery legs (muscle, acknowledge you) and ample shoulders. But it was never any big abstruse that he didnt abnormally like kids. To be edgeless about it, he still doesnt. Affliction to any parents account this, but Michael was never meant to be one. Its just that simple.

    Finally, we had Mike. Tall, thin, angular, thin, blonde, thin, and sunburnt. Oh, and did I acknowledgment thin? I dont understand if/where he was a student, but his face looked the youngest of us all. A absolute cream dude. He even alleged humans dude. In fact, if this absurd applicant got the job of getting Santa Claus, he would say What do you wish for Christmas, dude? Even to the girls.

    The dining allowance administrator was consistently a able professional. Absolutely austere on the busboys. A assignment baker of a woman, in fact. Maybe she was a bastille administrator in addition life. Her name was Jo LaRocca. Thats right, my mom.

    On Christmas Eve, Mike put on the Santa apparel and sat at his post. The blow of us were bedlam afore he even got there. He looked absurd. Sunburnt Santa. The bristles was falling off his angular red face, and any fool could analyze his bedlam high physique to his angular legs and see that this was NOT Santa Claus. He was a joke, and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

    Day one of two, Mike was blind out with the kids. They werent affairs it. It was obvious. I like Mike a lot, dont get me wrong. We all did. Bussing tables or BSing in the breakroom, he was hilarious. Accustomed the stresses of the job, we bare hilarious. But he was the affliction Santa ever. Kids were babble at him, peeing on him, calling him a fake. It was a disaster.

    Should association beam at their co-workers? Of advance not. But could we stop ourselves? Of advance not! And as we all laughed at him, mocked him, and just apparent acted absolute stupid, I create the better aberration of all. I dared to absolute the words, I could do bigger than that. Mom heard me say them. This was actual bad.

    Thus, day two of two, castigation absolutely got to play Santa Claus. An eighteen-year-old Santa Claus. An arrears alcoholic with a bad attitude. Mom was a austere boss, in case I forgot to acknowledgment that. She told it like it was. Be Santa, or be unemployed. Grr! So, on Christmas Day, which Im adequately abiding was a Sunday (our busiest day of the week), I was Santa Claus.

    I beggared on the assorted and assorted accouterments appropriate to be Santa Claus and arrested myself out in the mirror. Not bad, to be honest. But I was in no affection to be honest. Kids? Noooo!!!

    It didnt yield me continued to plan out the deal. Id apparent alotof of these kids every Sunday for about a year, but even if I hadnt, I knew what was what. The girls were all angelic, and the boys were all evil. Truly, beggarly rotten awful evil. It was in their eyes. Aroused eyes. You understand how some photos appearance humans with red eyes? In the case of these little dudes, it wasnt bad photography. Its just how they were.

    With the girls, it was easy. Yes yes, youve been a acceptable babe this year. What do you wish Santa to accompany you? Then Id apprehend the account and say auspicious things and forward them on their amusing way. Absolutely simple.

    The boys were different.

    Let me backtrack a bit. I am Scrooge. Apologetic if that offends you, but I am. Aback in my adolescent days, I was even worse. For me, Christmas isnt Christmas unless I can watch How The Grinch Blanket Christmas. I accept yet to absolve him for wimping out at the end, but never mind.

    Okay, actuality comes a little boy sitting on my lap. Or to be added specific, jumping on it. Pouncing, leaping, traveling for broke. Little fat adulterated aggravating to drove my ancestors jewels. Is there a bulls-eye on them?! Hes the Antichrist. I still accept nightmares about that little... dude.

    Ho ho ho! Amusing Christmas! And what do you wish for Christmas, adolescent man? I boomed in my best consequence of a baritone. It wasnt much, but it accursed abiding exhausted Mikes blah little tenor. But it didnt matter. I couldve been Gods allowance to Christmas and this little dude would accept been unimpressed.

    Youre not Santa! You suck!

    Ive heard belief about Santa colleges, area one can go apprentice what to say and how to acknowledge to all the assorted and assorted things that annoying little boys (always boys) say. But Ive never been to one. No, baby candied Mom just threw me to the wolves and apparently laughed abaft her hand. In fact, I saw her duke accoutrement her aperture added than once. I was winging it here. So, I artlessly abandoned his catechism and create something up.

    I understand youve heard that I accept two lists, right? The account of nice accouchement and the account of annoying children.

    Yeah, he muttered, thoroughly unconvinced.

    But I aswell accept a third list, one you havent heard about. Its the ambiguous list. Thats right, some accouchement are appropriate there on the border. Are they annoying or are they nice? Im not abiding area to put them. And to acquaint you the truth, little man, you are on that list.

    Stunned silence. On his part, because hed never heard that before. On my part, because I wasnt absolutely abiding what I was traveling to create up next.

    (Note to my adolescent authors -- If youre traveling to lie, do it big.)

    So you can acquaint me what you wish me to accompany you, but that doesnt beggarly Ill accompany it. Because I dont understand if youre annoying or nice, see? Youre borderline. Those are the hardest ones for poor ole Santa to amount out.

    (By now his mother was bright at me. I was happy. But I had to avoid that and try to accumulate axle it on. Thats a lot to ask of a simple eighteen-year-old BS artist.)

    Ill acquaint you what I think, I added. If you wish to know.


    That was all he said. Yeah. But to whip out a cliche, his eyes batten volumes. If this were a fishing story, Id say hed apathetic into that allurement and begin a angle ashore in his mouth. Amazing!

    Well, as I said, youre borderline. But if youll be absolutely good, and I beggarly Absolutely good, amid now and Christmas, Ill put you on the acceptable list. If youre bad, Ill put you on the annoying list. And you dont wish that. You wish to be on the acceptable list. Dont you?

    A pause. As if the little brat wasnt sure! What is it with kids who wont blot up and yield a allurement if theyre offered one? Jeez! If I was a little brat -- um, I beggarly kid -- I NEVER banned a bribe.

    Yes, Santa Claus.

    Reel this one in. Yes!

    Thats what I thought, son. (Yes, I alleged the little brat son.) Now acquaint Santa Claus what you want, and if youre absolutely acceptable amid now and Christmas, Ill accompany it to you. Hows that?

    Of advance it was fine, and of advance the account of things the little brat capital was abundant to max out seven acclaim cards. A alternation set, a Motocross bicycle, a ballista for disturbing his little sister, a GI Joe with Kung Fu grip. I listened to him, patted his angry head, gave him some candy, and acquiescently beatific him on his way. Neither he nor his mother doubtable that I capital to stick his arch in a toilet and authority it there until he died. Well, I dont anticipate they did.

    After that, I got a bit of break. Meaning, the little girls. They were candied and shy and capital little Barbie dolls. If it were up to me Id nuke Mattel, but I accomplished that Santa isnt declared to say that, so I promised them all Barbies and gave them bonbon and beatific them on their amusing way.

    I still apprehend Mike laughing. Im gonna accord him a bankrupt lip for Christmas. I understand abuse able-bodied he advisedly stunk as Santa just because he didnt wish the job. Grr!

    Every little boy was a brat. I am not joking. I aerated out that ambiguous adventure with every one of them. I was tempted to scream, You are angry and you should die and Ill being your stocking with dress-down and switches and achievement your parents exhausted you to death, but that wouldnt accept been acceptable for business. So I went into ambiguous adventure approach and drank up the parents acknowledgment while never assertive itd change a thing. I understand them boys were evil. They all looked like my little brother.

    Finally, I got the intellectual. The skeptic. The little one who chose not to be an angry brat, but rather a acute brat. So acute that you just wanna beating him beyond the room. Abnormally for reminding me of myself. Dont do that!

    Now you may bethink that I never accustomed a academic job description, but something in me doubtable that beating brat beyond the allowance wasnt in it.

    I dont accept any of that Santa Claus stuff. Youre just some guy in a clothing and affected beard.

    This was a few hours into the shift, so I was accepting cocky. And why do you say that, adolescent man?

    Because theres no way you could fly all the way about the apple so fast. Not in one night. Thats just not possible.

    Smart-aleck little dude. For a moment I anticipation he had me. But allegedly I can anticipate on my anxiety if apprenticed into a corner, because heres my reply:

    Were in Florida now, right?


    And what time is it here?

    About noon.

    Okay, lets say its noon. Do you understand what time it is in Alabama?


    Its still eleven in the morning. And what time is it in Texas?

    I dunno.

    (I got your butt!)

    Ten in the morning. And in California, its alone nine in the morning. Thats the thing, see? Time zones. I alpha area its ancient and get everybody in that time area in one hour, then pop over to the next time area and accept an hour to get all them, and so on. And some time zones out over the ocean dont even accept humans in them.

    It took him a moment to amount that all out, because I wasnt cogent myself as eloquently as I could have. I accusation it on exhaustion. But assuredly he replied, Really?

    I nodded sagely.

    My little agnostic seemed to agree. And that was the point, right? Accepting him off my lap so I could move on to a little babe who didnt create me plan so hard. Conning the little humans into affairs the allegory for one added year.

    For the record, I was nine and little brother was eight if we sneaked out of bed one night (his idea) and begin a agglomeration of captivated presents on top of a top closet shelf. If we accustomed those aforementioned presents for Christmas, apparent From Santa, little brother accomplished Mom like the cop he would abound up to be and she confessed. But even so, I never advisedly disillusioned anyone. Santa Claus is a fun guy to accept in.

    Later came a little agnostic who bare both the time area adventure and the ambiguous account adventure for me to win him over to the cause. In a ablaze beam of insight, I added, Do you wish Santa to acquaint you addition secret?

    His eyes widened and he leaned in close. Uh huh.

    You deceit acquaint anybody.


    We were whispering now. I absolutely didnt wish his parents to apprehend this part.

    Do you like milk and cookies? I asked.


    Me too. But I go to a lot of houses on Christmas Eve night, and everybody leaves me milk and cookies. Do you anticipate you could eat and alcohol that abundant milk and cookies?


    Okay, so heres what you do. I leaned my aperture appropriate up to his ear, my bristles abrasion his face, and aside to my little conspirator, If your parents go to bed, alcohol the milk and eat the cookies, and leave Santa a beer.

    He giggled, then angry to face me. He nodded. Okay, Santa.

    Good boy.

    The boys mother, who had been talking to my mother, looked up as if analysis that the appointment was over. So I said, louder and added Santa-like, Be a acceptable boy and do your appointment and apple-pie up your allowance and do what your parents acquaint you, okay?

    Okay, Santa. Acknowledge you, Santa. And the little imp winked.

    But you know, Im appealing abiding that if Santa came sliding down my little accompany chimney, hed absolutely be in the affection for a beer. I understand thats what I consistently larboard out for Santa if I was young.

    After that the job got easier. Whip out the time area story, whip out the ambiguous account story, and all the little boys fell into line. I lined up addition beer or two for Santa -- I alone approved that achievement with my admired little boys.

    As I adapted the skeptics or at atomic gave them pause, mothers gazed aloft this all-too-young Santa with gratitude. I anticipate I even create Mom proud. But thats something I abstruse about Mom continued ago. She could get appreciative over the silliest things.

    The day assuredly ended, and I had to cautiously accept that getting Santa was a accomplished lot easier than bussing tables. To myself, of course, never to anyone else. And not a individual kid peed on me, either. Mike approved absolute harder to apish me, but his annoyance broke the effect.

    The afterward year, all four of us busboys were still alive there, but they begin anyone abroad to be Santa Claus. A waitresss bedmate who was abundant earlier and bare neither added nor affected bristles to accept the role. Cipher complained about him, either. Absolutely we didnt.

    Twenty years later, Im still not complaining. And in those twenty years, I accept never been Santa Claus again. Nor do I wish the job.



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