Monday, December 19, 2011

I NEARLY BECAME MRS. CLAUS

Since my husband retired a few years ago, he’s been slacking off when it comes to getting his hair cut...and shaving. As a result, I’m married to someone who looks like Santa’s long-lost twin.

He, however, is in denial.

A few weeks ago, I sat looking at his nearly shoulder-length white hair, big bushy beard and ample waistline, and told him I felt as if I should change my name to Mrs. Claus.

“Don’t be silly,” he said. “This isn’t a Santa look! This is my Harley Davidson look!”

“But you don’t even own a Harley. In fact, you don’t even own a regular bicycle!”

Not long afterwards, my husband took me shopping at the mall and something happened that made him think he just might bear some resemblance to the big guy from the North Pole after all.

Whenever we go to the mall, my husband usually plunks down on a bench and “people watches” while I shop. He really enjoys studying people and could sit there and do it for hours – which works out fine because I’ve been known to shop for hours...even days.

Anyway, after I’d finished shopping, I returned to the bench where I’d left him, just in time to see a little girl, who looked about four, run up to him and say, “I want Barbie’s Dream House!”

My husband looked at her as if she’d just been beamed down from some other planet.

The little girl then tried to climb up beside him on the bench, but her mother rushed over and grabbed her.

“I want Barbie’s Dream House!” the girl repeated.

“I’m so sorry!” the mother said, red-faced. “She thinks you’re Santa Claus! I tried to stop her, but the minute she saw you, she just dashed right over.”

I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing.

All the way home, I teased my husband about being mistaken for Santa. I also had to throw in a few smug “I told you so’s” for effect.

He, however, seemed preoccupied. Finally, he said, “You know, I’ve heard that mall Santas and department-store Santas can make pretty good money. Maybe I should look into it as a part-time holiday job. I think it might be fun.”

He was silent for a few seconds before he added, “Trouble is, my stomach’s getting so saggy, it rests on my thighs. I don’t even have a lap where the kids could sit.”

“They could always sit on your knee,” I said.

“But I have bad arthritis in my knees,” he said.

I was beginning to think he should look for a different part-time job that was better suited for him...like a mattress tester.

When we got home, he headed straight for the computer and looked up information about being a mall Santa. It was the first time he’d actually seemed enthused about anything (other than eating and sleeping) since he’d retired.

Twenty minutes later he turned off the computer. I couldn’t help but notice that his expression looked less than jolly-ish.

“What’s the matter?” I asked. “Did you find out you have to have a college degree in ‘ho-ho-hoing’ to qualify?”

He shook his head. “I never realized how much hard work being Santa is. I mean, it always looked like nothing but fun to me. But did you know that they have to have at least three extra Santa suits ready at all times because so many kids get nervous on Santa’s lap, they have accidents? And I’m talking about accidents from both ends!”

The vision that popped into my head wasn’t exactly a festive one.

“And then there are the bruises from being kicked so much,” he added. “They showed a photo online of this one Santa’s legs. They had so many black-and-blue marks on them, he looked like a dalmation!”

“So I guess this means you’re going to cut your hair and shave your beard now that your career plans have been dashed?” I asked.

“I’ll think about it,” he said.

As luck would have it, a few days later we stopped at our local gas station. Our mechanic greeted us, then said to my husband, “You know something? You look really good with your hair long. Don’t ever cut it. In fact, I think you should wear it in a pony tail.”

Great. At the rate my husband’s going, in a couple more years I’ll be married to a replica of Father Time...or Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.

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