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The "attractive nuisance" in the red suit.
December 21, 2007 7:40 AM   Subscribe

He keeps his white gloved hands where parents can see them. And buys liability insurance, just in case.
posted by chlorus (59 comments total)

 
ho ho ho, merry litigation and a happy fat settlement.
posted by RTQP at 7:45 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hmmmm not sure why I immediately assumed this was about Micheal Jackson....
posted by gomichild at 7:52 AM on December 21, 2007 [14 favorites]


The article's tone is "how typical, another Grand Tradition ruined by Grinches". Except the tradition of Santa's lap is far from Grand. It has always been horrific for everyone involved. The waiting. The grim faux-cheer. The crying. The unmet expectations.

Does anyone keep these photos? For the younger children, they don't remember or care. For the older ones, they don't believe. Who is this being done for?

So I applaud making it more difficult, maybe it will die out. How about removing shoes "for security"? No liquids or baggies of Cheerios in line. One of those toilet ass-gasket sanitary things for each child.
posted by DU at 7:52 AM on December 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Santa should not be involved in politics. Santa should not curse,"

*Billy hops up onto Santa's lap*

"Hi, Santa. This year for Christmas, I want a firetruck, and a race-car, and..."

"You know what I want?", Santa drunkenly interrupts "I want this fucking administration to come clean about their criminal violations, I mean waterboarding? Who does something like that?"

"Huh?"

"Yeah little boy, that's where some guys grab you, pin you down, and dump water down your fucking throat till you start to drown, then they ask you questions."

"... Why are you telling me this? I just want some toys"

"Yeah, and do you know where those toys come from? China! And they are covered in lead paint. The first time you lick one and you're are gonna die. Your shit is just gonna keel over and BAM! *claps hand* your a fuckin' doornail"

"Santa, you're scaring me..."

"You should be scared. See that elf over there? He's a convicted sex predator. Don't know how he got this job, but I'd run quick if I were you kid."

"MOMMY!" can be heard as Billy sprints away.

---

I'll be honest, I don't see the problem here.
posted by quin at 7:54 AM on December 21, 2007 [13 favorites]


sometime's it's not the kids that are in danger ...
posted by lester at 7:56 AM on December 21, 2007


Scared of Santa
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:00 AM on December 21, 2007


Hmmmm not sure why I immediately assumed this was about Micheal Jackson....

Freaky, as ever.
posted by ericb at 8:00 AM on December 21, 2007


One of my fellow pipe smokers of yore was a Santa look-alike, and I asked him whether he did those gigs. "Naah, I quit," said Frank. "The mall gave me $hit about smoking my eighteen-inch clay, even though it looked really authentic, but that was kind of the last straw. What really bugged me was going home smelling like toddler pi$$ and having to have an extra suit because one was always at the damn dry cleaner's with drool or spit-up on it. Oh, and the moms were either pi$$y control freaks or convinced I was Chester Chester Child Molester."
posted by pax digita at 8:03 AM on December 21, 2007


He keeps his white gloved hands where parents can see them.

I thought this was going to be a Michael Jackson post.
posted by misha at 8:03 AM on December 21, 2007


My time is far too valuable to read/preview any of the previous comments in the thread before posting, but I just wanted to say that I could have sworn that this was going to be a Michael Jackson post.
posted by spock at 8:11 AM on December 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hey, is this post about Michael Jackson amirite?
posted by found missing at 8:15 AM on December 21, 2007


I didn't read any comments or even the tags because I didn't have time if I want to get my joke about Michael Jackson in here. Also, I didn't check for this meta-joke. Or that one.
posted by DU at 8:16 AM on December 21, 2007


In fact, that job is now considered better left to parents, to avoid inappropriate touching.

I see Fear has not lost its reign over the US.
posted by signal at 8:18 AM on December 21, 2007


Why would it be about Michael Jackson? "White gloved hands" is plural.
posted by bondcliff at 8:19 AM on December 21, 2007


I, too, was expecting Michael Jacksonry.

This does not mean I was entirely dissatisfied, did anyone bother to read the list of eligible santas going through screening?

The man does need money.
posted by Esoquo at 8:22 AM on December 21, 2007


WHO'S THAT MAN IN RED SUIT?
He may be a Communist!
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:24 AM on December 21, 2007


He keeps his white glove hands where parents can see them

I thought this was about Michael Jackson, until I saw it was hands and not hand.

(purposely avoided the "fixed that for you" post; as it seems to piss people off)
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:27 AM on December 21, 2007


Crying, Sneezing, Pant-Wetting: Survey Reveals What Mall Santas Endure Every Year - 34 percent of mall Santas have been "wet" on by a child. And at least one real life Santa has been mauled by a reindeer (gore alert).

And all those non-mall Santas? They are your Mom!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:27 AM on December 21, 2007


(purposely avoided the "fixed that for you" post; as it seems to piss people offI'm a big weenie)

Fixed that for you.
posted by DU at 8:37 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, the slow death of traditional mythology in a changing society… It has ever been thus.
posted by klangklangston at 8:37 AM on December 21, 2007


This is a shame.

Just what kids need, something else to be afraid of. Just what the courts need, more pointless litigation. Just what the nice old guy (they really exist) trying to make a few extra bucks at Christmas needs.

Not enough fear at Christmas, I've been saying that for years.

If you don't want your kid on some guys lap, don't bring him to the mall. You could have Santa at home, but then again, Uncle Frank tanked up on egg-nog in your living room is far more likely to grope little Janie than the guy at the mall with 300 litigious soccer moms watching from the queue.

Fuckin' idiots, all of them.
posted by cedar at 8:37 AM on December 21, 2007


I'm surprised that anyone actually wants to do that job badly enough to put himself through the costs (liability insurance) and the aggravation (children sneezing, bawling and wetting themselves).
posted by clevershark at 8:42 AM on December 21, 2007


The writer of the article is all like waaah, litigation, waaaah, no pipe. The Santas are all pretty chill.
posted by desuetude at 8:42 AM on December 21, 2007


I'm glad to have found something to agree with DU on. I remember being put on Santa's lap. I remember feeling very confused and nervous about this. It is a strange transaction, one that kids don't crave, and as this article implies, belongs to a time and setting far different than our present day.

It's a marketing tactic, and an outdated one at that.

That sentence also applies to Michael Jackson.
posted by hermitosis at 8:44 AM on December 21, 2007


Reindeer are animals, and they tend not to react well when they feel threatened or otherwise excessively put upon.

Somewhat unrelated to the thread, but come to think of it, Frank was sick of having to deal with kids who'd see him off-season in cutoffs and a polo shirt and want to know why he was out of uniform. Mommies would get pi$$y if he didn't respond in character, all cutesy about explaining that he was on vacation, or whatever.
posted by pax digita at 8:44 AM on December 21, 2007


Michael Jackson is Santa Claus?
posted by mazola at 8:49 AM on December 21, 2007


> Oh, the slow death of traditional mythology in a changing society

The store Santa is not exactly an ancient tradition.

I'm going to go out tonight on the solstice to burn a Santa.
posted by pracowity at 8:50 AM on December 21, 2007


I'm surprised that anyone actually wants to do that job badly enough to put himself through the costs (liability insurance) and the aggravation (children sneezing, bawling and wetting themselves).

There must be some ulterior motive that drives them to practice Santaism.
posted by Hicksu at 8:51 AM on December 21, 2007


He keeps his white gloved hands where parents can see them.

... and then, he moves his mouth away from the mic so he can breathe.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:55 AM on December 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


But what if it really was a candy cane in his pocket?!
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:55 AM on December 21, 2007


This is the 21st century, people! Santa can't smoke a pipe and be fat and jolly! Santa's got bills to pay, his adjustable rate mortgage on the North Pole is near foreclosure, he's got to sell his sleigh on ebay to pay his back taxes, and his cholesterol is waaay too high, so he's been jogging. He's trading the red furry suit for a cashmere track suit.
posted by goatdog at 8:57 AM on December 21, 2007


I remember being put on Santa's lap. I remember feeling very confused and nervous about this. It is a strange transaction, one that kids don't crave, and as this article implies, belongs to a time and setting far different than our present day.

If you were confused and nervous, wouldn't the responsibility lie with whoever put you in that position? If your kid is afraid of clowns, you don't sit in the front row at the circus. Let's leave Santa alone and do something about those damn clowns.

For myself and my children, the Santa pictures while they shop for their siblings are among our fondest Christmas memories. We always shopped, did the Santa thing and saw a movie. They're a little too old now for the Santa part, but we always smile walking by on our way to the super-expensive electronics/computer/phone/game store.

One persons antiquated myth is another's valued tradition.
posted by cedar at 8:57 AM on December 21, 2007


One persons antiquated myth is another's valued tradition.

lolxians
posted by found missing at 9:00 AM on December 21, 2007


.......trading the red furry suit for a cashmere track suit. Ah, new problems might solve old. Meistersinger hums and rolls eyes.
posted by Mblue at 9:05 AM on December 21, 2007


What's this about Michael Jackson's War on Christmas? Has anyone called Bill O'Reilly?

One persons antiquated myth is another's valued tradition.

Somewhat apropos- The Battle For Christmas. "Jolly Old St. Nick" is basically an advertising invention.
posted by mkultra at 9:15 AM on December 21, 2007


If I were to be a santa, I would be one at a pet store. Just as likely to get peed on, less likely to get sued.
posted by miss tea at 9:19 AM on December 21, 2007


This kind of thing actually makes me kinda sad, like we are moving away from something that was once kind of cool; A couple of years ago when I still worked in retail, the mall I worked for decided to employ a "real" looking Santa, which is to say, they gut a heavy set guy with a real big white beard rather than some dude with a pillow and fake whiskers.

The thing is, in the real world, (or at least in Wisconsin) there is a pretty specific kind of person that is going to fit that bill. And as a result, as I was leaving work one night I got to see Santa, take off his red coat, put on his motorcycle jacket, light a cigar, and take off in a squeal of rubber and smoke, on his Harley.

It was fucking awesome. As far as I'm concerned, if Santa were ever going to be real, I'd want him to smell like gasoline, Jack Daniels, and cheap cigars.
posted by quin at 9:23 AM on December 21, 2007 [12 favorites]


Santa's got bills to pay, his adjustable rate mortgage on the North Pole is near foreclosure, he's got to sell his sleigh on ebay to pay his back taxes, and his cholesterol is waaay too high, so he's been jogging.

Also he only officially works one day a year, and as such is considered a subprime credit risk. As a result he can't get anyone to offer him a mortgage now, and that leaves him living out of boxes (so he can leave in a jiffy once the foreclosure notices start coming) and occupying only one cramped room in the workshop to cut down on the heating bills.

Ah, how the mighty have fallen.
posted by clevershark at 9:31 AM on December 21, 2007


The thing is, in the real world, (or at least in Wisconsin) there is a pretty specific kind of person that is going to fit that bill.

This is so true.

You need a fat white guy. A beer belly is really the best kind of roly-polyness. Some legit facial hair, preferably white, helps and he has to be of a certain age. A belly deep ho-ho-ho (COPD or emphysema from a lifetime of Marlboros helps with this) is a prerequisite. Rarely do you see this combination without a bike and a Bud close by.

Is Kenny Rogers still alive?
posted by cedar at 9:42 AM on December 21, 2007


One of the local malls had a "Pet Pictures with Santa" day. I almost went just to see it. I can't imagine ever wanting to be that Santa. I figure it's part of a work-release settlement.
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:47 AM on December 21, 2007


There was a UK Guardian column years ago about being a posh store Santa - the usual ferociously amusing stuff about pee and toddlers and awful drunk parents.

Then the writer described being timidly approached by a mother with a small, pale, fretful little girl.

The mother whispered that her little girl wasn't being difficult - but that her daughter had just finished her last round of chemo - that they'd decided she wouldn't go through any more and the doctors had agreed, sadly, it was time to stop too. But even though she was feeling lousy, her daughter wanted to talk to Santa.

The writer took her gingerly on his knee and asked her what she'd most like for Christmas.

The little girl thought for a bit, and said: "Could you please bring me a green pencil?".
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:01 AM on December 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


Fraggle Stick Car?!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:05 AM on December 21, 2007


He keeps his white gloved hands where parents can see them.
Hmmmm not sure why I immediately assumed this was about Micheal Jackson....

Form your own psychographic profiles, but my first thought was "Mickey Mouse?"
posted by rokusan at 10:07 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have no memory of sitting on Santa’s lap as a child. I do, however, have fond memories of watching Santa and Rex Trailer land in a helicopter at the local shopping center. Now that is the way to impress the kids.

I recently ran across an old Polaroid picture of the event and was able to read the registration number off the helicopter. Through the magic of the internet I looked the number up, trying to find out where that copter was after all these years. Turns out, two days after Christmas in 1977, that very copter crashed, killing the pilot and passenger.

I’m not sure if that makes my memory more or less awesome, but it did sort of freak me out.
posted by bondcliff at 10:08 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I remember that article... there was also a bit about kids not sitting on Father Christmas' knee but on a special 'step' next to him... at which point something inside me died a little.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:26 AM on December 21, 2007


I've asked my son (he's 6) if he wants to go to the mall and see Santa, but he always says "No, thank you."

So, we don't go. I'm not going to make his life miserable just so I can have a cute photo.
posted by Lucinda at 10:35 AM on December 21, 2007


Fraggle Stick Car. NSFW
posted by Brocktoon at 10:36 AM on December 21, 2007


The perfect Santa would be that old peodophile geezer on The Family Guy.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:14 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Santa should not be involved in politics. Santa should not curse,"

*Billy hops up onto Santa's lap*


No lie... I got that far and said "QUINNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!"
posted by The Deej at 11:16 AM on December 21, 2007


I remember as a kid in Small Town, Connecticut watching Santa arrive via helicopter at the local Vality supermarket. I thought it was pretty cool, though I think even then I kinda realized it wasn't much more than a stunt.
posted by maxwelton at 11:20 AM on December 21, 2007


Biker Santas, eh? Frank rode a "fat boy" sometimes, I think. No noticeable COPD or emphysema, but he was noticeably well upholstered on top of being a pretty beefy guy to start with, with ruddy complexion and white-blond hair, beard, eyebrows etc. But my favorite irony of all -- Frank's Jewish (altho thoroughly secular, from what I gathered).
posted by pax digita at 11:27 AM on December 21, 2007


Sort of like Wisconsin, but less cold, the Santa that lives in Lawrence, KS, wrote the book The Original Unofficial Joint Smoking Rules.
posted by sleepy pete at 11:46 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also he only officially works one day a year, and as such is considered a subprime credit risk. As a result he can't get anyone to offer him a mortgage now, and that leaves him living out of boxes (so he can leave in a jiffy once the foreclosure notices start coming) and occupying only one cramped room in the workshop to cut down on the heating bills.

Not even close to reality.

Truth is, he's his own S-1 corporation now. In the 1990s he went through a "right-sizing" where he fired most of the elves and offshored toy construction to Asia and Mexico. The cost savings was so massive that he was able to buy his own fleet of Panamax container ships. Gift delivery now runs entirely with drone sleighs and reindeer that are run out of massive regional warehouses, eighteen of them alone in the US.

This year the Yelm, Washington warehouse will have the first field tests of matter transporter technology. If successful, sleighs and reindeer will be phased out (except for ceremonial or special request delivery with the SantaPlatinum plan) by 2010.

That whole "naughty or nice" thing? He SELLS that the data mining software to the NSA and Google. in return, he has access to all of the CIA/DIA/NSA intelligence. His holding company also owns the French firm that runs those SPOT satellites. Oh, and the Kringle Group? Also a subsidiary. They use nanobots placed on the skin of the mall Santas to track gift requests. Nothing beats human intelligence.

List management is entirely on a just-in-time model with an added twist -- direct connections with the toy industry allow him to alter the subliminal messages in toy commercials to affect overall demand. This was after the "Tickle Me Elmo" crisis a few years ago, where his Chinese subsidiary was unable to keep up with demand. Now, he can tailor demand on-the-fly with a simple adjustment of the "buy me" messages on TV.

As for those handwritten lists, well, he developed most of the OCR software we use today.

And what about Santa's future? Since he already controlled 500 square miles of polar ice cap, he's sitting on top of one of the world's largest freshwater reserves. If he needs the cash, he'll start mining that. The workshop is barely used -- he runs SantaCorp from a post office box in the Caymans, and most of his work runs right out of his Tuscan villa, overlooking his vineyards. There are still elves up there, but they're mostly doing IT or R&D away from the world's prying eyes.

He only works one day a year? It's been 20 years since he's had that luxury. Sadly, Mrs. Claus didn't like him not being home, so he gave her several billion in cash, his Norwegian castle, Carribean island, and four of the flying reindeer. She's doing fine with the cabana boys and boat drinks.

As for Mr. Claus? Becoming a corporate titan worth more on paper than Gates and Buffet and the GDP of Indonesia combined has had its costs. Most days he sits alone on his terrace, drinking chianti. He's tried dating, but between the immense amount of time it takes to run a multinational conglomerate and his fetish for wearing real fur dyed red, relationships have been short, strained, and painful. Sure, he's still got the magic thing going. He can wish up some hookers and blow any time he feels like it. But it's emptiness to him now.

The only thing that keeps him going is knowing that at least one child somewhere in the world will be happy come Christmas morning. But he suffers from the moral and personal cost of building this great engine of materialism that, in effect, drives the world's economy.

Say a prayer for Santa on Christmas Eve, as he's staring at his laptop, alone, making sure the mirth machine runs unimpeded for yet another year.
posted by dw at 12:13 PM on December 21, 2007 [11 favorites]


He keeps his white gloved hands where parents can see them.

Or else he gets the hose again.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:43 PM on December 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


One of the local malls had a "Pet Pictures with Santa" day. I almost went just to see it. I can't imagine ever wanting to be that Santa. I figure it's part of a work-release settlement.

I know someone who took their cat to such a thing. A. CAT. I can almost understand "oooh, I have to walk the dog, I'll just stick some antlers on him while I'm at it and take him by to see Santa!" But a cat?

If I tried to do such a thing with my cat, you'd get a photo of a fluffy white blob as it crapped itself and meowled for dear life. I prefer destroying her dignity with camera-phone photos instead.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:59 PM on December 21, 2007


"You know what I want?", Santa drunkenly interrupts "I want this fucking administration to come clean about their criminal violations, I mean waterboarding? Who does something like that?"

"Huh?"

"Yeah little boy, that's where some guys grab you, pin you down, and dump water down your fucking throat till you start to drown, then they ask you questions."


He speaks from experience.
posted by homunculus at 2:19 PM on December 21, 2007


He keeps his white gloved hands where parents can see them.

Or else he gets the hose again


Oh man that makes me want to put together a script for a short, but I fear it would end up looking too much like something from South Park.
posted by quin at 2:25 PM on December 21, 2007


Warning: spoiler alert (if you're a kid)

My two-year-olds love decorating the tree, and love gifts, and love singing, and love Frosty the Snowman on the TiVo.

As for Santa, they know that he's pretend, just like Frosty. We don't need to tell them that he comes down the chimney and brings presents; they like presents no matter who buys them, and they're good, nice kids on their own without any pressure from The List.

When I was a kid, I loved Santa Mouse. Santa Mouse (from a published kid's book, it turns out, although I didn't know it at the time) was my parents, just like Santa was my parents, from a gift-giving perspective; I don't remember a time when I didn't know my parents bought the gifts. But man, I loved Santa Mouse, because Santa Mouse was the story we were told just before we got to throw ourselves into the tree to find the little fast food and ice cream gift certificates my parents put into the branches just higher than we could reach. We knew my parents put 'em there, but we loved it anyway, because we loved the story and we loved diving into the tree.

A few days ago my wife read "Yummy, Yucky" to our kids, then said to my daughter "Meatballs are..." and she said "Yummy!" Then my wife said "and Soccer Balls are..." and my daughter didn't even bother to respond, she just fell over laughing hysterically at the thought of eating a soccer ball.

Kids don't need big, scary "real" fantasy figures to have a good time, and I suspect most kids (like most Santas) don't really get much out of it; it's something for the parents, so that they can send the pictures to the grandparents and tell their friends "of course we took 'em to see Santa!"

Mind you, if a kid *wants* to go see Santa, great! But otherwise, why bother?

Oh, and a friend of ours got caught in a lie to her young daughter not that long ago, and after admitting she had been lying, her daughter made her promise to never, ever lie to her again. About a week later, she found out from a friend that Santa wasn't real, came home and told her mother that she knew the friend was lying, because mommy said Santa was real and mommy said she'd never lie to her again. Our friend had to admit that lie, too, and her daughter was *devastated*; it wasn't about Santa, though, it was about the lying.

So I think we'll stick with the telling-our-kids-the-truth thing, but in the most fun and enjoyable way possible, with lots of hugs and toys and laughter. Oh, and Santa Mouse. Who, like Santa, is pretend.
posted by davejay at 11:54 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


My mother obsesses over Santa photos. For years, after my parents divorced, we were mud poor most of the time, and the cheap Santa pictures were the only way she could get a professionally done portrait of us three little hell spawns. So, a 6 year period of my childhood is only viewed through photos taken with a big fat total stranger. Little cynic that I was, I mainly went along for the free colouring books and crayons. My sisters and I went and had Santa photos done this year, mainly because us older kids (I have another sister from her second marriage) are all moved out, married and breeding.

I'm 26. The next sister down is pregnant and my youngest sister is a victorian era society dame trapped in the body of a 12 year old.

Poor Santy Paws.
posted by Jilder at 8:03 AM on December 22, 2007


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