Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Christmas Story

When I was in elementary school, we were off the week prior and the week following Christmas. For me, much of this time was spent outside playing in the snow. Burrowing tunnels through plow piles, sledding, snowball fights and the like were pretty much the sole source of entertainment until we got Atari when I was in th 6th grade. Looking back, it was a lot of fun but I was always jealous of those friends who got to go on vacations every winter. They'd come back from break with tans and stories about dolphins, parasailing, and snorkeling.

The first few days recesses back at school were usually spent discussing what we had done over break. We'd huddle around on the playground and share our stories. The vacation kids usually went first as they were the most enthusiastic. The kids who got really cool stuff like snowmobiles and mini-bikes were next followed by kids who talked about stunts they pulled and drunken uncles. The last kids to speak were the one-uppers and the liars. In the fifth grade I was in the "stunts/uncles" group after getting busted at the beginning of the year telling a complete bullshit story about what I had done over summer break. I had learned my lesson. This is a story of someone else's humiliation.

It was the first day back from break we were out at recess. Eric P (last names abbreviated to protect the innocent) had just finished telling a funny story about a drunken uncle at a Christmas Eve party and we were all replaying images of it in our heads. After the giggling subsided, Joe R. piped in and started telling a story about something his brother did at his own Christmas Party. We listened to him but we were a little skeptical of everything he said.

Joe was a horrible one-upper who filled his stories with lots of exaggerations. Once, during a class party for our teacher's birthday, Joe did a few magic tricks. After the teacher told him how good he was, we had to endure Joe telling us all that his grandfather was friends with Harry Houdini. Most of his stories were studded with these types of gems. They were fantastic but unverifiable.

Joe's story was going along as we would usually expect. He exaggerated about how much stuff was at the party and how awesome his brother's car was. The goose his mom made barely fit in the oven. His grandmother gave him a check for for a thousand bucks but the money was in the bank and he couldn't get at it until he was 16. We doubted a lot of what he said but noone was going to call his house and ask his mom so what could you do?

Joe wasn't getting the ooh's and ahh's he wanted so his story began to take a more fantastic turn. The following are Joe's words as best I can recall them.

Joe: So then, we went home after the party and my mom let me eat rum balls. I think they had a lot of rum in them and I was feeling all drunk. I stayed up and watched Scrooge and then I put out cookies and stuff for Santa.

This last part sent up a few alarms but nobody called him on it. Some families do these things out of tradition. We let him go on.

Joe: I went to bed and later I heard some noise coming from the living room so I got up and snuck out to look and Santa was there putting presents under the tree.

You'd think the stunned look on all our faces would have clued him in to bail on this tale but I think he misinterpreted it as us all really digging his story. He continued.

Joe: Yeah, so there was Santa and I was trying to be quiet but he knows everything so he knew I was there and everything so he turned around and said, "Hello, Joseph. You've been a very good boy this year so I came to give you a special present."

His only salvation would be if this turned into a drunken uncle/child molester story but Joe was now completely in fantasy land.

Joe: So Santa took me up to the roof and gave me a ride on Rudolph and we went to the North Pole and met the elves and stuff. I got to have cookies with Mrs. Claus and everything. Then he flew me back and he gave me a new football and made me go back to bed.

The grilling started immediately. "Wow, Joe. What did Santa look like?" "What kept you from freezing to death in your pajamas while flying to the North Pole on a reindeer?" Dozens of questions were asked and Joe came up with fantastic answers for all of them. He had no idea that he was rapidly digging the hole we would soon bury him in. My best friend, Eric, finally ended the real questions and started the ridicule.

"Hey, Joe." he started, "What does reindeer shit smell like? Candy canes?"

Paul W. added, "Yeah, Joe. What do Santa's balls taste like?"

I don't remember how it ended exactly. I'm sure the bell rang at some point and ended the nightmare that Joe had conjured for himself. We teased him about it for weeks and every year after that someone would bring it up at a class Christmas party or dance. Hell, here I am writing about it all these years later. I wonder if he wakes up sweating on Christmas day with the sound of laughing 10 year old boys in his head. I know I would.


Beth said...

Poor Joe! I had one of those guys in my class, too.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Sadly, when Joe said Santa made him go "back to bed," I had a pretty good hunch about the sort of slander he was about to endure.

Grant Miller said...

That's an awesome story.

Chris B. said...

It starts with "My mom let me eat rum balls." It ended with "My mom let me eat rum balls."