Rick's List — Santa Recap Edition
When I was 24 and in a band called Tropical Otter, we were playing in an East Dallas bar on Christmas night. This is not particularly unusual as, typically, night clubs and cinemas do big business Christmas evenings because families are sick of a full day of good cheer and want to get out of the house and away from each other.
The place we were playing, though, was called Shady's and, boy, was it. No family celebrants in Shady's — just the usual Bukowski-style denizens who couldn't have told you whether it was Christmas Day or D-Day. After our last set, I noticed an odd figure in the back corner. It was Santa!
I stopped by the bar, picked up two bottles of Lone Star, and headed to his table. I introduced myself and thanked him for the life-like replica of Baphomet's skull I'd unwrapped under the tree that morning. Then I said, "How come you're not working?" It was only 2 a.m.
"I'm done," Santa said, "and thanks for the beer." He explained that his flying reindeer are "really fast," and he was usually done shortly after midnight. "Hey," he said, holding up his Lone Star in a toasting gesture, "you're one of the worst singers I've ever heard. You sound like George Thorogood if he gargled with weedkiller."
That was the start of an enduring friendship and regular Christmas night ritual wherein Santa stops by, wherever I am, after the last toy has been delivered and we have a drink and talk a bit. Over the past few years — maybe because the world has made him weary — he's begun sharing a few heretofore privileged tidbits from the "What I Want for Christmas" letters from the previous 12 months.
Given that 2020 has been trying at best, Santa gave me permission for the first time, to share a few of those requests.
1. In a last-minute note with a White House return address: "Can you please find a way to add an additional 700 days to the first three weeks of January?"
2. From the guy who makes those cardboard cutouts of people that sports teams are using to make it seem like there are real fans in football stadiums and sporting arenas: "Dear Santa, Hate to sound heartless, but could we have just a few more years of COVID?"
3. One "V. Putin" asked for three-dozen packages of poison-soaked jockey shorts.
4. Jeff Bezos wrote, "This is perhaps odd, but can you just send lots of money?"
5. A correspondent mysteriously identified only a "Q" appealed for enough components to assemble several onshore petroleum drilling rigs, explaining, "My rabbit hole is no longer big enough to handle the steadily increasing number of idiots trying to climb down it."
6. The spokesman for a company called the "The Wuhan Open-Market Plague Think-Tank and Lab" begged Santa for thousands of live bats, monkeys, and golden retrievers that can potentially be used as disease transmitters. "Mr. Claus, we are under hellish pressure, virus-wise, to 'keep 'em coming.'"
There was more, but I couldn't keep reading. "Jeez, Santa," I said, "these are rife with greed and shallowness. What about, you know, Christmas spirit?"
Santa smiled sadly and drained his Narragansett. "I show you the times," he said.