Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 3:30 p.m.
Santa doesn't really hate you, but he's damn bored.
It's not easy to get Santa to throw down. In fact, we had to talk to more than one not-so-jolly St. Nick to get the true story of what it's like to hang with a bunch of puking, snot-nosed brats and overbearing parents, all December long.
The first Santa we chatted up - an older chap who worked at Valley malls for four or five years til his Mrs. Claus made him quit to hang out with the grandchildren - complained about hours in the beauty salon, dying his (real) gray beard white. And he says his back is shot from heaving kids onto his knee. But he had nary a bad word for either the kids or the parents. What a party pooper.
Luckily we found the real deal - a Santa with complaints. Truth be told, even this guy - a youngster who pads with pillows and dons a fake beard - says he loves his seasonal gig, testing his skills as an actor by staying character for hours (and hours and hours).
But he has a few complaints, and happily vented in this 'as told to' - in the tradition of our series that has now featured everyone from a kvetching cocktail waitress to a bitching book buyer:
Puke. A lot of little kids puke. You've got to be really careful. Usually it's just a little -- then you roll with it. If it's a lot, I've gotta say, hey, time out! It's not good to get puked on when you're wearing a Santa suit -- I have limited mobility and I'm wearing mittens. But on the bright side, if you barf on me, I have a story to tell. It is surreal, I think to myself: They throw up on me and I promise I'm going to buy them presents.
Find out what else bugs Santa after the jump.
Santa's got a reputation to maintain, and sometimes that really pisses me off. You can't really get your revenge like you can with other jobs. With Santa, you always have to be nice.
Not all Santa suits are created equal. If someone gives you a crummy suit to wear, who's going to believe you? Then I'm just a young guy in a red felt suit. In any case, as you guessed, all the suits are hot, particularly when you are wearing them in Phoenix.
Parents are assholes. Some kids aren't ready to talk to Santa. The parents are like, "Go talk to Santa!" And the kids are crying. Even kids up to 8 or 9. It makes me feel terrible, but Santa can't tell a parent to fuck off. And then you get the teenagers who are saying, "This is so lame!" At least you can share the vibe with them.
Give me a winter wonderland, please. Santa in a folding chair. Not good. There's nothing worse than disappointing a kid who looks at you like, "I came for this?"
Present pushers. The parents push the kids to ask for what the parents have already bought. Like, "Tell Santa you want a My Little Pony set!" Sometimes I play along, but sometimes it makes me mad. I'll say, "Ho ho, that sounds like a terrible gift! I'll get you what you really want. Tell me what you really want."
You gotta be ready for anything. Some kids ask for weird things. A lot of kids ask for cheeseburgers. The strangest was a request for a vacuum cleaner. And you get some Reader's Digest specials, like "I want my Daddy to come home from Iraq." But mostly they ask for mundane things. You ask them what they want and they think, "What do I want RIGHT NOW? Some water?" Stickers, pencils, paper clips. You can't bat an eye. Ho ho ho! I'd be happy to bring you a vacuum cleaner!
Downtime. Sometimes the screaming in ears is so loud I can't stand it, and kids are puking and I'm itchy and I can't scratch. But at least I can challenge myself to stay in character. Sitting there with nothing to do is the worst, and everyone wants to keep Santa around way too long.
That's when I remember, I'm really just a guy in a Santa suit sitting here and it's hot.