Dressing up as Santa and walking around saying ridiculous shit was supposed to kick my seasonal positivity into motherfucking overdrive. What’s more inspiring than making little children happy, as they desperately pour upon you their once chance to make CERTAIN they get exactly what they want for Christmas? Ignore the fact that, for many of these beasties, the season IS the gift, not all the stuff about charity and God.
We’ll forgive them, seeing as they aren’t real people yet (and I tell this exact thing to my high school students).
However, I had no idea going into it that you had to hit that Goldilocks-perfect set of age / mindset conditions to get the appropriate response that you see in movies and commercials for your local mall.
What happens if they’re too young? TEARS! Tears and rage and screaming! Who in the name of all that is holy IS this gigantic, horrifying, red motherfucker calling me a ho?!
What happens if they’re too old? Well, that, my friends, is much more difficult to explain. If not more difficult, than definitely more lengthy. I was accosted by older (not silver-haired in-their-twilight older; more like middle age) people, COMPLAINING that Santa was too thin, too young, not dressed well enough, or not smiling so goddamn big that it could be seen above the fake beard and below the fake hair. For the record, I smiled my ass off.
Typically, my (internal, silent) response was: it was me or nothing, you humbuggy asshole. Suck coal!
I was poked fun at by 13-year-olds making fun of the fact that they could see a sliver of sneakers beneath the black boot veneer I was provided with (but it’s what I expected from middle-schoolers, especially the ones who hang out in a Wal-Mart two days in a row).
I was frowned at by all types of people, ranging from twenty-somethings to even those in their twilight years. The worst reaction of all time:
The avoidance of eye contact.
And that’s what struck me deep in my stinking, rotten guts. They couldn’t make eye contact. They couldn’t look at a guy who was trying to make their day better. They couldn’t greet, even with a smile or ANY type of reaction, really, the guy who wanted to please children and wish everyone, “Merry Christmas and happy holidays.” Maybe they were pissed that I didn’t capitalize the other holidays, but “merry” is the first word and “Christmas” is a proper noun. So, again, suck coal!
And I was reminded of a line from one of my favorite comic books, Preacher (now a pig-fucking awful made-for-t.v. series thanks to FX or some other jerks). In it, the young protagonists father, a 1970s night in shining armor (read: Vietnam vet), tells his son (paraphrased) the following: son, you have to be one of the good guys, because there are just way too many of the bad.
It hit me. We need more fakey-ass Santas. CALLING ALL FAKEY SANTAS! WE NEED YOU!
No offense, 250-to-300-lb. older guy with silver hair, a flowing beard, and that bowful-of-jelly belly, but you have it easy. No one thinks you’re a fake Santa. Everyone thinks you’re the real thing. And there aren’t enough of you.
I want the young Santas, the thin Santas, the female Santas, the dog and cat Santas, and anyone who feels the own negativity in their life, rejects it, and wants to make some random person smile.
Take the plunge.
Make the risk.
It’s fucking hard, especially if you don’t have a costume, but look a stranger in the eye, smile as big and stupidly as you know how, and wish them well.
Merry Christmas, you strangers. For yourself, for the world, for me: do something good before it’s too late.