Christmas, oh Christmas ... could there be a merrier time of year? Not for your old pal Santa Claus. At least that's what I thought until yesterday, when the fine folks from the mall called with some joyous news: I got the job! They wanted me to do my thing in their atrium every day between now and Christmas. It's been 11 months since I was last gainfully employed. I'm sick and tired of onion sandwiches, and they were offering $8.23 an hour! Naturally the Clauster was stoked.
Perhaps a little too stoked. A celebration seemed in order, so I indulged in a little indiscretion and opened a present laid under the tree for me by my lead elf, Katzenberg. (Rumor has it he's really a midget, but we don't split those kinds of hairs around the workshop.) Dear old Katzy had set me up with a "Jacks Are Wild" Jack Daniels gift set ($54.99, ABC Liquors, various locations). For the next hour, I positively gorged myself on sweet whiskey, cheese, crackers, beef summer sausage, mustard and chocolates. So good!
When I was finished ... well, everything after that is a bit of a blur, I'm afraid. I vaguely recall hearing some strange noises emanating from the workshop Christmas tree. It was our Heirloom Talking Photo Ornaments ($29.95 for a set of two, Sharper Image, The Mall at Millenia, 4200 Conroy Road, 407-363-9000; The Florida Mall, 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-859-2171), personalizable trinkets into which dear, sweet Rudolph had recorded the greeting, "God bless us, everyone!" But at that moment, I could fairly have sworn they were calling out, "The horror! The horror!" Then ... blackness.
I awoke in a pool of my own sick, midday sunlight streaming through the windows. It was already noon! Damn that Katzenberg, he knows my history of problems with strong drink and honey mustard. I was three hours late for my first day of work!
By the time I could fire up the sleigh and get to the mall (and secure a parking space), the line of kids and parents stretched all the way to the food court. And by the way those people held their noses as I hurried by, I could tell the odor of whiskey, mustard and vomit still hung heavily on my body.
Long story short: I was sacked. And tossed out the door besides, like a bum. The disappointment was crushing, but I can't say I take issue with the decision. I let everyone down. I'm a bad Santa.
To absorb the blow, I responded in the only way that seemed sane or productive: Doing doughnuts in the parking lot while cranking the two-CD version of Jimi Hendrix's "Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight" ($25.98, Park Ave CDs, 528 Park Ave. S., Winter Park, 407-629-5293; also at the University of Central Florida Student Union, 407-282-1616).Dec. 14
Some days you just don't feel like leaving the house. When you live in Celebration, well, most days you don't feel like leaving the neighborhood. Today was just such a day.
Yesterday's humiliation still hurt like an icicle in the back. What were the chances of finding another job before the big day? Slim to none, that's what. Damn that Katzenberg.
So I turned my attention to safer pursuits -- like playing with Edward Gorey's "Dracula: A Toy Theatre" ($18.95, Urban Think Bookstore, 625 E. Central Blvd., 407-650-8004), a nifty little playset that re-creates all three stage settings for Gorey's Broadway production of Dracula.
Focusing my attention on the plight of poor Renfield in the sanatorium really did wonders toward putting my own problems into perspective. Soon, I was feeling positive enough to entertain the idea of human company -- well, simian company, anyway.
My spirits were further brightened by the rich sonorities of Myron the Monkey ($25, Dillards, six Orlando-area locations), who kept me entertained with his highly enthusiastic jungle noises and (lyrically altered) rendition of "Hey Hey, We're the Monkees." Just adorable.
Well, what can I say except that old Santa has a problem setting healthy boundaries? An hour or so of Myron would have been a fine frolic, but I was so caught up in the moment that I decided to engage in some heavy battery-testing. By the time the batteries were dead, I was imagining chimps crawling out of the baseboards, and that song was practically imprinted on my cerebellum.
To bring myself back down to reality, I curled up with the latest issue of Ride BMX Magazine (gift subscription $19.99/year; includes free ride belt, ride stickers or beanie). There's nothing like full-color photos of your favorite ramp, street, dirt and flatland riders in action to convey the reassuring message, "Everything's chill."
I just turned the last page, and before I peel off my suit and climb into bed, a vow: Tomorrow I will get back among the living. Santa may be down, but he's not out.
This was my day to take the proverbial bull by the metaphorical balls. But things only got worse.
The elves, the reindeer and even Mrs. Claus left me. Gone in the night. Or maybe it was the morning, as I couldn't seem to get my backside out of bed until 1 p.m. Mrs. C. left a note saying she'd heard about the imbroglio at the mall. She'd had it and no longer wanted to be married to a malingering elf. I'd soiled the good Kringle name once too many times, she wrote. There was a hoofprint on the bottom. It looked like Rudolph's.
Screw 'em. I'm sick and tired of those little elfin bitches underfoot anyway, and frankly I'd like to see how my fat-ass, soon-to-be ex does on the singles scene.
I left home, drove to downtown Orlando and proceeded to get in some quality panhandling time.
I set up camp in the nearest blue box and courted the sympathy of passersby by proudly displaying my Jesus Action Figure ($6.66, Static, 240 N. Orlando Drive, 407-478-1083). But the cute totem's upward-swept arms and smooth-gliding action did little to sway the more fortunate to my cause. Derision ruled the day. (A repeated comment: "If you're really destitute, how come your ass is so huge?")
I did, however, attract the attention of one of Orlando's "finest" who apparently was too stupid to notice that I was in a blue box. The lump-headed fuzz tried to roust me from my rightful place on the pavement. Good thing I had my Cell Phone Stun Gun ($89.95, U-Spy Store, 5227 E. Colonial Drive, 800-393-4779), which looks like a cell phone but dispenses enough body-flattening power to keep attackers at bay. (Useful when you spend most of your professional life breaking into strangers' houses.)
I zapped the cop and took to my heels. Got away from him too, but I think he was trying to get his gun out of his holster. That's right buddy, put a cap in Santa. That'd give The City Beautiful a big PR boost.
I found an alley, rolled myself up in a Badtz Maru shower curtain ($21, DiVersions, Fashion Square Mall, 407-894-5101) and went to sleep behind a Dumpster.Dec. 16
As the saying goes, I had nowhere to go but up. And in this case, "up" meant "off the pavement and toward the BioLife plasma donation center" (1122 W. Church St., 407-841-2151). Thanks to our fine medical community, I was rewarded handsomely for turning over just a few pints of Santa juice.
Twenty-five bucks richer and only mildly disoriented, I was able to score my first decent meal in days: A jar of chocolate body paint ($10, Schakolad, Winter Park Village; 480 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-677-4114) which I found both filling and useful for camouflaging the body parts exposed by the ever-more-numerous holes in my red suit.
Maybe this Kringle-at-liberty business was going to be easier than it looked.
Flushed with the lure of easy money, I responded to a newspaper ad that solicited human guinea pigs for a sleep-deprivation experiment. It probably wasn't a brilliant idea to bring along my microwavable neck pillow ($35, NFX Apothecary, 327 Park Ave. South, Winter Park, 407-622-1611) which made me so comfortable that I drifted off to dreamland in no time. Before you could say "bowlful of jelly" I was declared 4-F and shown the door.
Luckily, I had company: some practicing Wiccans who had been thrown out of their eating-disorder study for carbo-loading after hours. These wacky witches, God bless 'em, took pity on your old pal Santa and invited me to stay at their crash pad. The one named Glenda even suggested I dig into a Prosperity & Abundance Draw ($24.95, Avalon, 1211 Hillcrest St., 407-895-7439) to help turn my life around.
Appealing to the higher force of magick gave me a feeling of comfort that the universe was about to reposition itself in my favor.
And indeed it has. Indeed it has. Santa got his Kringle waxed, oh silent witness to my trials and travails. It's been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely time. Oh yeah.
OK, no one's reading this so I'll confess that sexual congress with Glenda is not a fer-sure fact. Now clearly, I should know whether I was naughty or nice, but it's all kinda foggy. I remember the draw, I remember playing strip Twister ($11.99, Toys "R" Us, three Orlando-area locations) with Glenda, I remember thinking it fortunate that my beard is so long, I remember throwing back a six-pack of Zima ($6.69, ABC Liquors, various locations), then nothing. Yes dear diary, Santa is still having trouble setting healthy boundaries.
I woke up on the Bernini leather sofa ($1,275, Rooms to Go, 5200 E. Colonial Drive, 407-228-8337; also in The Florida Mall, 407-438-6799) sore as an elf after a rugby match, and the house was empty. Glenda, Brenda and LaWanda were gone like the fuzz on an elk's antler. "No matter," said I to no one in particular, "Santa's a bit of a rolling stone anyway." Besides my agent would pop an artery in her head if some bastard paparazzi caught me macking with a denizen of the dark side. (Note to self: Get blood test). Forget about those free "there's Santa's on the weather radar" promos on Christmas Eve for sure.
So I'm in the bathroom wrestling with that big black belt, I drop my trousers, make a thumb-grab for the old BVDs only to find them replaced by a pair of Wackyjac panties embossed with the word "slut" on the front ($13, women's size XL, www.wackyjac.com). Which explains the crotch burn but what in the name of Blitzen is going on? Did Glenda slip a Rohypnol (availability varies) in my Zima and ride me like a broomstick?
Absolutely, that is absolutely what happened. The only possible explanation, because I've never worn women's panties before. Katzenberg probably does, the oily little bastard, but the Big Elf. No sir.
I kinda like 'em though. (Note to self: Change the lock on the diary).
I left the witches' pad thinking maybe there's still a little north in Santa's pole after all. Yeah, I'm 180 years old, overweight and look like Jerry Garcia, but Santa is still Da Elf.
So I'm feeling randy but there's no Glenda to help me get my groove on. Next best thing? Fairvilla MegaStore (1740 N. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-425-6005), of course. I spent the better part of the afternoon perusing the shelves. Santa had his eye on a Dicky Sipper sports drink bottle ($11.95), a chainmail bikini ($81), a coffee-table-size edition of "Exquisite Mayhem: The Spectacular and Erotic World of Wrestling" by Theo Ehret ($60) and the December edition of 50+ magazine ($7.99). Sadly, Santa didn't have enough cash to pay for his goodies.
But, lord help me, virtual flesh can only satisfy an elf for so long. I did a bad thing and took to Orange Blossom Trail with the $15 I still had tucked in my cummerbund. Sometimes the lure of sin is more than I can stand.
Up and down OBT I schlepped, looking for love in all the places Katzenberg told me to look last year when I confided in him last New Year's that things weren't quit right between me and the missus. He's such a scuzz.
It took 20 minutes, but I found a Claus a date (availability varies). Christmas is coming indeed!
Santa's up, Santa's down, Santa's high and Santa's low. Santa's out of Prozac and feeling a little bitchy today.
And that hot little number dressed like a candy cane? To quote Michael Jackson, "She's out of my life." She walked after she found out that the $15 I lavished on her charms was the last of my scratch. "I thought you had a sleighful of neat shit," she screamed at me while we were watching a little post-coital "Cops" at the Host Inn Motel ($40 per night plus $5 key deposit, 919 W. Colonial Blvd., 407-422-6311) and only then did I notice that indeed, she didn't have all her teeth after all. Good riddance.
So I'm at loose ends again. I spent the day cruising from mall to mall looking for work. But the sleigh eats gas like reindeer eats grass, and the tank's on "E." I did, however, find my LYNX Passport one-month bus pass ($35, LYNX, 445 W. Amelia St., 407-841-2279) lodged in my beard. Thought I'd lost that sucker for good.
But Orlando's a small town, and I'm blacklisted. An elf at Herndon Plaza pulled me aside and told me that Katzenburg was shooting off his mouth about me at the Bar of Bethlehem two nights ago, and a lot of the guys were there. "You might as well be Jeff Nolan," he told me. "You ain't gonna find work."
Guess he wasn't lying. (The manager at one mall made me throw my head back and touch my nose before telling me there were no openings. Hysterical, buddy.)
So Santa's sitting in the motel bathtub with a gallon of Arbor Valley Burgundy ($6.49, ABC Liquors, various locations) trying to drown his troubles, if not himself. What's the future hold for me when I can't get a mall job a week before Christ-mas? Immediately, it holds a delightful foot massage thanks to my Homedic Bubble Bliss Elite Pedicure Foot Spa with heat ($39.99, Target, three Orlando-area locations). Other than that, squat.
But this is the freakin' season of light, so I'm holding fast to the idea that tomorrow won't drain my soul of the milk of human kindness nearly so bad as today.
Still at the Host Inn. I talked the clerk into letting me stay one more night with the promise of paying in the morning. Fat chance, pal. I didn't get out of bed until 1:30 p.m. I ate a deluxe 15-inch sub from Lenny's Subs ($7.65, 3812 E. Colonial Blvd., 407-895-8521) and skimmed a few back issues of High Times ($29.99, one-year gift subscription, www.hightimes.com).
Another day closer to Christmas, another step closer to financial ruin.Dec. 20
Hey fate: want to shit on Santa some more? I'm still alive, so maybe you want to hit me with a bus or something?
As God is my witness I tried. This afternoon I woke up with steely determination (and no small case of morning wood). Dammit, I said to my Cheech & Chong Head Knocker Set ($29.95, wickedcoolstuff.com), if Christmas wasn't going to happen for me, then maybe it's time to look for another line of work. I've gotten so used to seasonal employment that I really have no idea how the other half lives. Maybe, just maybe, the Christmas gravy train thing is coming to an end. Whatever.
Sure enough, my chakra seemed improved. No sooner did I step out of my room than a corpulent, middle age woman who called herself "Betty Kinglehorn from Omaha" (over and over again, while my head was throbbing like zit) popped out of the room next to mine with a $20 bill she swore she owes me for "services rendered last night." Last thing I remember was passing out in front of the TV, but who knows? Santa is still having problems setting healthy limits when it comes to popping Xanax ($79 for 30.5 mg tablets, available at local pharmacies, prescription required).
By the way frau Kringlehorn was smiling, I can only imagine that old Santa once again got into some lewd dealings. "More where that came from," she leered as she tucked the $20 into my belt. Then she pinched my ass!
The shame lasted just as long as it took me to walk downtown and drop that Jackson at the Bar of Bethlehem. As fate would have it, my buds the Three Wise Men were there, already well into their fifth drams. Jesus was working the taps. "What would you drink?" I asked him, and he poured me what has to be the strongest vodka and OJ old Santa has put down his gullet in a decade or three.
Just as the booze hit my bloodstream, a little cutie in a tight sweater plopped down and whispered her wish list into my ear. She wanted a Mini Cooper (from $16,975, Downtown Mini, 131 N. Orange Ave., 407-835-2727), a Segway Human Transporter ($4,950, orders for March delivery now being taken on Amazon.com), and a hot-air balloon ride ($165 per person, Blue Water Balloons, Orlando, 407-894-5040). Greedy little princess.
So there I was, lit up like a Christmas tree with those old-fashioned-style bulbs, and who the hell should come in and plop his fat ass on a barstool right next to me but Katzenberg! He has what Jesus would drink, then another, then a third, and pretty soon he's all in my face about what a scrawny, emaciated bitch I am. He's got boogers all over his tunic and he's calling me a disgrace to the profession!
I just go on snuggling with Mrs. C du jour, which pisses him off even more (I always get the chicks). Before I can wiggle my nose and get the hell out of there he's got me in a headlock on the floor! Pulling my beard! I'm pretty potted, but old Santa still has some kick in him, so I busted a chair over his head. Didn't phase him a bit, though, and he's after me with a lighter trying to set my duds on fire. Meanwhile my "friends" the Wise Men are taking bets on who will prevail in this battle of the Christmas giants, and Jesus is levitating behind the bar! Or did I imagine that?
I seem to remember someone calling the cops, and a truncheon blow to my head, but again everything goes black. Sure am getting tired of that.
Jesus H. Christ! Apparently, the "H" stands for "Heaven Hill," because that must have been the cheap-ass "bourbon" ($12 per liter, ABC Liquors, various locations) Mr. Son Of God was serving me last night after he ran out of vodka. I've got to remember to never drink what Jesus drinks. He's got an unholy tolerance. Mutter Kringle told me there'd be days like this, but really, this is just ridiculous.
I figured the tingling sensation around Santa's back chimney this morning was the result of one of my if-one-is-good-11-must-be-better binges of vegan hot dogs ($2, somewhere on Orange Avenue). But then I remembered I never saw that nice fella with the cart. And then I remembered I was broke and couldn't have bought 'em anyway. And then I remembered getting my ass beat by that no-good Katzenberg. (Note to self: Beware of career-minded underlings.) And that was when I noticed my Wackyjac panties around my ankles and my cellmate ... oh, yeah, my cellmate. Apparently, diary, Santa got locked up last night.
I once prided myself on my ability to bring good cheer to my fellow man, but Katzenberg's the exception. He flat pisses me off.
According to the police report, I grabbed that not-so-little elf's Ace Frehley Zippo ($33.95, www.pipeshop.com) and lit a stack of Hollyberry cocktail napkins ($1.99 for a pack of 50, Albertson's, various locations) which, of course, I then flung at Katzenberg.
Although I missed my intended target, I did manage to set ablaze a rack of Orlando Weekly's (free, all over town). Although this should have pissed somebody off, nobody seemed to care about the papers, but everyone was irritated that I was being such an asshole. Jesus came over the bar (wasn't levitating after all) and led the beatdown on me. Of course, they told Officer Stapp that they were just "holding" me until he showed up.
And here I am. With a cellmate named Paolo who got separated from his Brazilian tour group near WonderWorks ($16.95 admission, 9067 International Drive, 407-351-8800) after being distracted by a couple of male models riding the mechanical bull in front of XS Orlando and attempting to hail a cab by frantically waving a yellow flag in the middle of I-Drive.
He apologized profusely for taking advantage of me, but said that the site of my giant, red-fleeced ass passed out in front of the toilet was too much for him to resist. And who says Brazilians don't have good taste?Dec. 22
Paolo got bailed out this morning, and I'm a bit lonely. We talked all night, and he raised some really interesting questions about why I like hanging out with elves and sneaking into kids' houses at night. And though those issues are ones that Mrs. Claus and I have had many a dust-up over, his uniquely Brazilian perspective was refreshing.
I wish I had my bag of goodies. Apex makes a DVD player ($57.98, Circuit City, four Orlando-area locations) that's so cheap that I was gonna be giving them to people who couldn't afford groceries. As it is, I've got to get by on rosy cheeks, attitude and occasional ingenuity.
But it was sheer luck that just got me out of a potentially dangerous situation. As I was headed for the showers -- somewhat distraught over Paolo's departure -- I noticed that deep down in my increasingly nasty pockets I still had a Hanukkah gift given to me by that little mensch Katzenberg. Yes, the little asshole got me Hanging Chad soap on a rope ($8.95, www.soaponarope.com). Normally, that's the kind of gift reserved for re-gifting, but hey, I'm in the big house. And a little insurance policy never hurts. Needless to say, jolly old Santa wasn't dropping any soap in the showers, much to the chagrin of the large and obviously horny Hells Angels in there with me.
Honestly, I can't believe I'm in jail. This season started out so well. I swear to Father Christmas that I'll never drink again. And I swear that I'll kill that Katzenberg the minute I get out of here.
Things have definitely turned around. Sure, despite two days of forced sobriety and a shower, I'm still a disheveled mess. And sure, it's two days before Christmas and I'm out of work. But the cute little hooch from the Host Inn showed up this morning with bail money. My own Mary Magdalene to the rescue!
As I was being processed, the head screw said he lost my shoes. So the first order of business, I told my little Mary, was to get Santa some new kicks.
As we're walking out of the jail, I start looking for a LYNX stop, but Mary interjects with, "Oh no. I've got us a ride." And lo and behold, a stretch white limousine ($50 per hour and up, Limo Orlando, 800-380-5584) is waiting for us. As we climb in, I'm about to tell the driver where to go so I can get a new pair of Doc Martens classic 8-eyelet boots ($109, Journeys, 3201 E. Colonial Drive, 407-897-6281) when I notice that the backseat is occupied by my passed-out Wise Man buddy. WTF?
It turns out after they smacked the shit out of me at the Bar of Bethlehem, the three wise-asses apparently took a trip to OBT themselves. And who do they proposition? None other than my Ms. Mary Magdalene herself. Damn it, she's mine! Santa is getting tired of having his women stolen.
Typhoid Mary takes the trio of letches on what could delicately be termed a binge of heroic proportions, during which they're bragging about how they beat the snot out of Santa and got him tossed in jail. Mary puts two and two together (must have taken her awhile) and shouts, "I fucked that dude last night! It's Santa, let's bail him out!" And lickety-split, I'm riding in a damn limo. Ain't life a pile of reindeer droppings?
Quick as a wink, I rifled through the passed-out Wise Man's pockets. Now I'm $3,000 richer, but I still need shoes. So my lady (my lady!) and I head off in search of shoes. I crack open the limo's last bottle of Johnnie Walker Black ($42.99 per liter, ABC Liquors, various locations) and command the driver: "On Blitzen. Let's get some shoes for the fat man!"
Things definitely turned around today. So much so that this is going to be my last entry. Ever.
I'm sitting here on the Conroy Road I-4 overpass, right next to a mall that could have, should have, been mine. I've got my feet wrapped around the giant "A" in "Orlando" and, as I scratch this final chapter in the Kringle epic, cars are speeding past, kids waving, moms smiling ... all headed for the mall. Westbound traffic on the freeway is jammed with office drones headed home for Christmas Eve. They think I'm part of a publicity stunt. Little do they know how wrong it's all gotten.
Mary and her Libyan Lothario peeled away from the shoe store as soon they dropped me off. It was then I realized there was no hope for this man named Claus. I wandered around for awhile then stopped in at the Asian Super Market (1021 E. Colonial Drive, 407-895-8938) and discovered they were out of the one thing that could have made me happy at that moment: Strawberry Pocky (99 cents per box). They've always got strawberry Pocky. How much worse can it get?
I kept walking until I hit the 7-11 (83 E. Colonial Drive, 407-648-1105), ambled up to the counter with a Big Gulp (99 cents), the last doughnut left from the morning (99 cents) and a three-pack of porno mags ($9.99), ready to put the last of that Johnnie Walker to good use. Then I found a Dumpster to crawl behind.
But the cops found me (they've got cameras I guess.) They let me off with a warning, though: "It's Christmas Eve, sir. Go spend it with your family." Yeah, I wish. No family, no job, not even the ability to masturbate freely. I was nothing.
I took a cab to the Conroy Road bridge and gave the driver a $2,973 tip. "Merry Christmas, bucko," is what I think I said.
And now, having recorded the final will and testament of one S. Thaddeus Claus, it's time to go. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a nice fucking life.Dec. 25
Hello from 30,000 feet above the briny deep! We're about to land, but yours truly is still on Cloud Nine. A bit of explanation? You bet your ass!
As I was preparing for the final plunge from the overpass by setting my diary down in a safe place, some clod tourist in a rented Ford Windstar minivan (from $530 per week, www.hertz.com) apparently ran into and KO'ed Santa. Hit and run on Christmas Eve! (Check your stocking, friend, because I think I remember your license plate.)
Anyway, I have no idea how long I was laying there. All I remember is this weird vision of Mary pouring Crown Royal into my mouth. Big gulps, too! Heaven? Must be, I thought to myself. But what's a hooker doing up here?
She's all cloudy and gauzy, then suddenly my vision clears, my hearing returns, and I realize: This is no dream! I'm back in the limo with my dear, sweet Mary! WTF?
I grabbed the bottle from her hand and took a long chug while she filled in the details. Apparently she dropped the comatose Wise Man Lothario off in a "secluded wooded area somewhere on Disney property," then headed for some last minute power-shopping with his cash and his limo. Particularly proud of the Kate Spade 26-inch wheeled suitcase she picked up ($1025, Neiman Marcus, The Mall at Millenia, 4200 Conroy Road, 407-363-9000), she looked like ... well, she looked like a streetwalker with expensive luggage. (She hadn't bothered to change clothes yet.)
But she was my angel. On the way to the mall she spotted my mangy carcass on the side of the road and made the driver haul me into the back. When I came to, she uttered the words any down-on-his-luck Santa needs to hear: "Screw Christmas. Let's go to Nassau."
And so we are. We charted a Citation jet ($1,800 an hour, Showalter Flying Service, Orlando Executive Airport, 407-894-7331), and the two of us have been quaffing Crown Royal and nibbling each other's ears the entire flight. (I tried to get her to nibble something else, but she reminded me that she's the one with the money here.)
Now, with a warm, liquored-up feeling in my belly, my backside in the lap of sweet, sweet Mary and the beauty of the Atlantic spread out beneath me, all I can say is "Merry Christmas to all, and you can all kiss Santa's snow-white ass."