While I tend to my sick and miserable little boy who won’t stop clinging to me (no, not Mr. Candy…this time), I thought I would re-post this column that was originally published on December 6, 2009.
Okay, SO… I hadn’t planned on getting Miss Skye’s picture taken with Mr. Claus just yet. I knew Mr. Candy would want to be there for the Big Moment — after all, meeting Santa is a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime rite of passage that we force upon our frightened kids — so I had intended to wait until Mr. Candy returned from his business trip. However, Santa was working the beat at the Beverly Center, where I walked by his station on Friday and his elves (read: two sullen out-of-work actors) spotted the “SUCKER” branded on my forehead. It’s not my fault! I swear! They reeled me in with a very compelling pitch, yelling out:
Damn them and their hard-sell tactics! I mean, there was no way I could resist that, right?
Hey, cut me some slack. There was no line. Miss Skye was in a good mood. I figured there was no time like the present. And did I mention I’m a SUCKER?
It’s funny how we usually protect our children, demanding that friends and family dip their entire bodies in Clorox before we’ll even allow them to TOUCH our baby, and yet we’ll gladly hand over our kid to a complete stranger just because he’s wearing a Santa costume. Because if he’s pretending to be a 1400-year-old man who uses flying reindeer as his primary mode of transportation he must be safe!
Thankfully, Skylar is too young to realize she was in the hands of a potentially crazy man. No! I kid! Not potentially — this Santa was crazy. As soon as he started kissing the top of her head, I instinctively inched closer so I could catch him if he bolted with my child. “Oh, I love her!” “Oh, she’s so beautiful!” Santa kept exclaiming. Cute, sure, (well, not the kisses… ick) until I went to take Skylar from him and he made no move to give her back.
“My name really is Kris,” he informs me.
It struck me: This dude truly thought he was Santa.
“How nice!” I responded in a too-high voice, as I pried my baby from his arms.
“Here — touch my pole,” Kris said.
I swear to God, that is exactly what he said. NO, the story does not turn into a Christmas porn — “A Very Merry XXXmas” — at this point. He really was carrying a festive pole to lord over his mall minions. But the story does venture into weird territory. So I, um, touched Santa’s pole.
“Now make a wish for your daughter.”
I looked around, waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out of the Nine West store and tell me I was being Punk’d. Alas, Ashton must have been too busy Tweeting and pompously snapping partygoers with his Coolpix to help me out.
“Do you feel the pole getting warm?”
Again, I SWEAR I am not making this up. I didn’t want to disappoint Kris, so I slowly smiled and nodded as you would with any lovely person who’d just escaped the insane asylum.
“That means the wish will come true!”
I released his hot pole, thanked Crazy Claus and got the hell out of there, so I could pick up our THIRTEEN-DOLLAR picture with Santa. Yes! Thirteen freakin’ bucks for one 5×7 photograph. Santa clearly isn’t suffering in this recession.
I started walking away, admiring my beautiful daughter’s first overpriced picture with Santa, when who should sneak up behind me but CRAZY CLAUS! He proceeds to tell me his life story, his two daughters’ life stories and how I should rub Skylar’s gums with wine now that she’s teething.
I always knew that Santa was a wino.
In all seriousness, I think this particular Mall Santa was just a lonely old man with a Santa Complex. Good intentions, stalker-ish vibes. Awwww. But, really, the moral of this story is: ALWAYS ask how much the picture costs before you agree to let them photograph your kid. Thirteen buckeroos! Yowza.