Well, dear readers, since the full story behind my black eye is less than truly mytho-poetic, I thought I’d embellish the tale a tad. It is, after all, the proper time of year for fabricated legends, cobbled narratives, boldfaced lies and egregious effusions of exclamation points, is it not?
Yes, according to various traditions, it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And so, I offer:
“Santa’s Secret Service Flies First Class, or An Alternative Explanation for Ocular Ruin”
A Christmas story consisting, like so many others, of total bullshit.
A testament, perhaps, to the variety of quality though arguably illicit employment offers one can find on Craigslist, I recently applied to become, and was immediately hired as, a bodyguard for Santa. The daily wages are low and the hours are long, but the job, which is strictly seasonal, does feature certain perks such as cookies and candy canes, loads of free ‘doctored’ hot chocolate, gratis lodging in a private igloo, and a surprisingly generous per diem that must, by terms of contract, be spent at the North Pole Pub, which features, according to its website, “the frozen world’s hottest Pole dancers” (conveniently, the per diem is doled out in single notes).
Anyway, last weekend we were out doing reconnaissance flights in preparation for the Big Night. This was an instructive experience, for while soaring over different territories, and at times at very low altitudes, I learned that most demilitarized zones are in fact the exact opposite, that Somali pirates really like Lady Gaga, that Iran’s nuclear facilities are yet fledgling but more robust than North Korea’s (where they’re built out of sheetrock), that Wikileaks Foundation has a private rave-party facility in Ibiza (where Julian Assange spins, on occasion, as DJ Wiki-Wiki-Leaky Condom), and that both Kim Jong Il and Hermann Van Rompuy are actually holograms. I can also affirm that construction is indeed underway, in Dubai, on a half-mile-high transparent tower that will consist of an inner vitrine (housing only eight virgin dolphins aswim in the gold-dyed amniotic fluid of Borneo Pygmy elephants) encased in an outer vitrine (whose floors will be lined with petri dishes full of reptilian stem cells and punctuated by four imported redwood trees). Of course, the complex is really just a ‘piece’ by Damien Hirst, who has hired a significant portion of the population of Pakistan to build it.
Beyond learning all that, the mission also allowed me to overhear Santa himself say—and with gusto, and more than once: “This fucking Google Earth is so fucking inaccurate, fuck!”
So that was all quite sobering.
At any rate, as we reentered European airspace (one can fly over Liechtenstein faster than one can do the shuttle run, by the way) we decided to make a stopover at Heathrow’s duty free stores (yes, Santa shops at duty free too, because everybody likes cheap liquor, and Mrs. Claus has a thing for cognac). There was, at the time, a few inches of snow on the ground, and it was at least windy enough to get a kite really high into the air, so of course the whole airport was completely incapacitated (meanwhile, most flights in and out of the far more ‘wintry,’ let’s say, Scandinavia are successful this time of year, according to various reports).
Well, since Santa’s famed sleigh is far better equipped for such conditions than all of those grounded planes (consider: the sleigh, or Sleigh, is a convertible, yet we stay warm wheresoever we fly, and that’s just one example of how advanced it is; one should also note that it’s environmentally responsible because it’s fueled by the cheerful labor of a small fleet of immortal reindeer), enraged mobs of people calling themselves ‘stranded holiday travelers’ tried to get a ride with us. They pushed and shoved and kicked and swung, and many of them were well versed in the artful use of words like ‘fuck’ and ‘bitch,’ as well as other saucier terms derived from references to both genders’ intimate parts.
Such was the raucous scene, and since it is obviously my job to protect the big guy—though he too, like his dear reindeer, shall live forever—I absorbed most of the insults and blows. Naturally, and unavoidably, many of the elves took a beating as well, and once we finally got up, up and away, a few of those little guys (that’s not a judgment, just a fact) were too weak to hold on to the Sleigh’s golden handles (ok, so it’s not totally technologically advanced, but it does generally tote immortal beings, which might explain the lack of seat belts), so a number of them fell off as we rounded Nottingham, a few others over Reykjavik. But don’t worry about their fate. Elves, of course, don’t die. They become garden gnomes until Santa gets around to picking them up, if ever he bothers. Or they repair shoes or build wooden boys. Sometimes they become cookie and snack entrepreneurs, often specializing in butter crackers and living in trees. But whatever. They’re creative, enterprising little creeps (again, just a fact).
And their injuries probably healed by the time they hit the ground. Mine, however, persist, at least chromatically.
Anyway, one of the greatest parts of this whole ordeal is that while most of the above took place, Santa just lounged out (note: his red suit is made of velour) in the back of the Sleigh getting unfathomably wasted, yet jollily so, while Facebook-chatting with Bill Clinton (yes, they’re both ‘friends’ with Monica Lewinsky).
“Are you ok, Santa?” I asked him, noting that he had just finished a third handle of tequila.
“Ho ho ho, ha ha, hwah hwah ho, huzzah!” he blurted out, spitting tequila all over his iPad. Former President Bill Clinton had apparently made quite a funny.
Oh, the Internet!
Santa never did answer me, but I figured he was ok.
So then, to pass time, I watched elves fall from the Sleigh. Once, as one of them reached up for me to take his hand—he was dangling, 80’s-action-movie-style, from the undercarriage—I halfway extended my arm toward his while gently kicking loose his Sleigh-clutching other hand. I did this to see how long we would hold eye contact as he fell into the cold abyss below. It was something like a few seconds, tops. But it was rather cinematic all the same. Worth it, I’d say.
When we finally arrived at the North Pole, Rudolph took one look at me and said, “Damn, you got jacked.”
The injury was fresh. I wasn’t really in the mood. So instead of laughing with him or shrugging it off, I reminded him about all the laughing and name-calling he had to deal with earlier in his career, and how long he was forbidden from joining all the reindeer games, until that one foggy Christmas Eve, and so forth. I also pointed out that my injury would heal sooner or later, but that he’d have his stupid-looking red clown nose forever and ever, plus infinity.
He didn’t like that a whole lot and commenced to give me the silent treatment. It’s been several days now. I reckon he can keep it up for quite a while, since time is hardly a concern.
Plus, I’m only a seasonal worker.
Oh, happy holidays!!!!!