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Lake Stevens, Man About Town

This Just In!

By Lake Stevens, Man About Town
December 18, 2004

Santa, Can I Be Your Helper?

Brittany, show us your tits. On a recent spree at the Beverly Center, I noticed a crowd of youngsters standing in a tight cluster near the Grand Court. I instinctively smelled a story. Did a new Cinnabon open? Perhaps Brittany Murphy or some other horrible Disney leftover was signing autographs or flaunting her ribcage. Normally I steer clear of America's youth -- what, with their hip hugger jeans My ass is Juicy and Juicy tracksuits. I don't think that a quick trip to pick up a crystal soup toureen for my mother-in-law should turn into a peep show of every fourteen-year-old girl's roll of belly fat. I like to be a voyeur on my own terms.

Despite my contempt for the current "youth culture," as a celebrity journalist, I have vowed to uphold the motto: Where There is a Star (even one of marginal significance like Ashlee Simpson), There is Lake Stevens.

Danny Terrio I elbowed past children, mothers and a strangely content midget couple in order see what everyone was fussing over. To my surprise there was no lip-syncing MTV celeb or even Danny Terrio making a "nostalgia" appearance. Instead, I spied a fat man stuffed into some kind of cheaply-dyed, red faux fur ensemble. That material was dreadful. And his facial hair! A gnarled white beard, that looked as though he'd recently used it as a substitute serviette, covered the lower part of his face. I couldn't be quite sure, but I think he had a cold sore. I really should recommend a product so he can tame that mess. I'm Santa, have you been bad? usually not too keen on revealing my grooming secrets, nor do I make a point to get close enough to such people to even be within shouting distance. However this was an exceptional case -- no one should have to go out in public like that out of ignorance. Christmas is a time for giving and I could be charitable by offering a few beauty tips that I picked up from "the wife." (On the other hand, if this is a specific "look" that he's trying to work...or if he's just too poor to care, far be it from me to interfere. Besides, I really could do without contracting a case of body lice this holiday season.)

I was about to turn away and flee when everything suddenly fell into place. Santa Claus! Of course -- that's what people do at Christmas. They pack their six kids into the minivan and drive into the Big City for a little bit of holiday glitz. Somehow this man had been suckered into donning the red suit, hat and boots in order to (I guess?) please children. No man should have to endure hour after hour of sitting in a mall while children scamper into his lap, their firm and boney behinds pressing into his pelvis. They look up to him as the one man A little to the left. who holds the key to all their hopes and dreams. Imagine it: day-after-arduous-day of children, their hair smelling faintly of apple and rotten eggs, crawling and squirming in his lap, whispering their deepest desires into his ear. Yes, there was a story here. I wanted to find out how someone could be so selfless as to incur such an obvious hardship upon himself in order to make small, trusting children adore him for no reason other than wearing a red suit and beard. I took a long drink from my bottle of Evian. Mall air -- cough -- can be so dry.

I waited impatiently for "Santa" to finish up with one particularly horrid looking boy. How can any mother in good conscience dress her child in a T-shirt with "Old Navy" printed on the front? It may as well say: "I will one day operate a forklift." Old Navy finally slid off Santa's lap and ran off to his mother, clutching the coloring book every Santaland visitor receives. Before the next kid worked up the courage to approach him, I quickly strode to Santa's side and requested an interview. It took the promise of a hot lunch and bus fare to Torrance, but he agreed to meet me in the food court on his next break. I spent the next hour and a half impatiently pacing near the restrooms.

Thirsty Santa Lake: My name is Lake Stevens. I'm very pleased that you could take time from your busy Santa schedule to meet with me.

Santa: Ok, whatever. My name is Jerry. I need something to drink -- you mind buying me a whiskey? Make it a double.

Lake: Yes, of course. Let me order it for you. So Jerry...are you really from the North Pole?

Jerry: (cough cough) No, I'm from Nevada. Wife divorced me -- took my girls with her. I miss them sweet young things...the way they used to look at me 'fore their bitch mother started feeding them lies about me.

Lake: Do you have much contact with your family?

Jerry: The judge don't 'low it. All I know is that if I can't see my kids, I ain't payin' that whore any money. All she did when we was married was suck me ry, took everything I had. I'll be damned if she pulls that shit when we don't even live in the same state. Yeah, so that's why I'm here. A new town, a new start. Say, how 'bout another drink?

Lake: Sure Sure. Would you care for a salad or something nibbly? Chili cheese fries? Ok, but I have to assume that you know what eating all that trans-fat does to your sperm count. Alright, alright! I'll have the server bring them with my next martini.

Have you always wanted to be a Santa? Were you a Santa in Nevada? Where was it in Nevada you hail from?

Jerry: Jus' a small town. After I was paroled, they said I needed to get myself a job. I seen this ad over in Hollywood outside one them theaters. I think I had just seen Santa's Naughty Elves 14 or something. It was kind of like "karmen" or whatever that hippie bullshit is called. What more of a sign could you ask for? Plus I needed to eat real bad like...and I love children. All those kids...all young and trusting. Especially the rich ones you see around here. So eager to please, you know.

Lake: Yes

Santa Stops for CokeJerry: Anyways, I came down here and signed up. Hired me on the spot! Didn't even have to take a piss test or none of that shit. How bout that. Now I get to be with young kids all day. Well at least till the holiday is over...but I got it all figured out, see. I gonna be the Easter Bunny come spring. Kids get to sit yer lap when yer tha Easter Bunny. If that don't work out, I figure I can be one of those clowns that go visit the cancer kids. I mean, those kids are fucked already -- what does it matter?

Lake: Er, yes, right, ahhh. Did you have to take any classes on how to be a Santa? Any professional training? You seem to work so well with the children. Perhaps there have been acting classes in your past? Do you rely more on Method Acting or the Practical Aesthetics Technique?

Jerry: The what? Naw, they just gave me the suit and told me I get 7.50 an hour and two breaks. That ain't half bad. Said that I have to get it cleaned if I spill anything on it. Almost wrote to the ex-wife. All that bitch ever saw was dollar signs…hearing 'bout this would show her. But that restraining orders says no contact…and they mean no contact.

Lake: Oh! Well, thank you, Jerry. I think I have taken enough of your time.

Jerry: Hey no problem. Got to get back anyway...duty calls, you know. Can't let them kids down.

Lake: You must talk with a lot of other Santas? I would very much enjoy meeting other gentlemen in your noble profession. I'll buy the drinks.

Jerry: Aw, sure...you seem alright, I guess. We all meet at the Tippy Top Bar over in Hollywood. Round 9.30...after the stores all close. Plenty of them there.

Lake: I'll be there.

Pine Sol Fresh That night I made my way over the discarded needles and unconscious transsexual prostitutes that give Hollywood its "charm." I soon came face to face with the Tippy Top Bar. I heard raucous laugther pouring from the establishment (the upper portion of the half door was open to let the smoke escape.) Luckily "the wife" insisted I wear my track shoes and bring a pair of latex gloves (we always make sure to have an ample supply on hand). As usual, "she" was right. It would be grossly irresponsible to touch any surface in the joint. I would be lying if I said I'd never been in such a place. I did have let loose that weekend in Bangkok last summer...things I saw (did) there would make a Moscow smack whore blush. I entered the bar. The dark, yeasty interior fondly reminded of The Rack in NYC. I spied a group of Santas at a back table. I quickly introduced myself, promised a round of drinks and secured several interviews.

Lake: How long have you been a Santa Claus?

Smoking Kills Santas Bob: I been doing this Santa gig every winter for...jeez...about five years. Before that I used to play Santa at home all the time. Seems the neighbor boys got a big kick of comin' over to my apartment when I was dressed as Santa.

Lake: What do you find as the most rewarding part of your job?

Bob: Aside from all the kiddies? Jeez pal...I need another beer. Help me out?

Lake: Here, take this. (I always keep a few fives in my Gucci wallet for any transients who start to approach me. It always seems to do the trick)

Bob: Thanks, mister. Hey...I've got this rash. No health insurance...help a guy out.

Lake: Sorry, I only pay for alcohol.

Crippled Santa At this point another Santa wandered over.

Tony: Hey. (sniff sniff) Name's Tony. Yep. You the guy who wants to know about being a Santa? You some kind of queer or something?

Lake: Yes. And no. I am simply interested in your lifestyle. Do you need a hankerchief? Your nose seems to be running an awful lot.

Tony: No, I'm cool. It's just the Ice. Ya cool? You aint a cop?

Lake: (Laughter!) So when did you first get the calling to be a Santa?

Tony: (sniff) Oh, you know, right after prison. This dude I shared my cell with told me he did it every winter. He looked out for me. Got shivved in the shower though. Well, (sniff) I was released the day after Thanksgiving -- biggest shopping day of the year so they say -- and I really needed the bread. I thought "why the fuck not?" I'd only been away for five years and boy, the price of Ice aint so cheap no more. Hey, fancyman, you probably know where I can score some good shit. I learned a few things in Prison...maybe we could work out some sorta trade, know what I mean? They got a stall that locks here.

Lake: I appreciate the offer, but I am a happily married man. What is your typical day like as a Santa?

Tony: Not too bad. I get there about 9 am to put on the suit. I have to be on the floor by ten. Weekdays are ok, but weekends are pretty rough...non-stop little bastards. Some of them stink like their parents ain't bathed them in a year. Sometimes I get lollipops or their boogers stuck in my beard.

Lake: What happens when a kid asks for something that you know their parents can't get for them?

Tony: I give it to them straight. I just say, "Look kid, your parents bust their asses eight hours a day at a job they hate so you can have some decent clothes and eat a good meal a couple times a day. Ask for too much and they ain't gonna want you no more. Believe me I should know. My parents dumped my sorry ass on the street one Christmas 'cause I kept bugging them for a BB gun."

Lake: Thank you so much for sharing your story. I really feel like I've come to know the life of a Santa.

Tony: No sweat, fancyman. Sure I can't do a little favor for ya? We're all going down to the theater on the corner. Whyn't you come along?

Lake: We-ell, "the wife" is out of town. But only for the sake of journalism.

-Lake Stevens, Man About Town
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