Monday, December 5, 2011

Bad Santa

I am dedicating this post to one of my favorite holiday movies.

The movie, Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Lauren Graham, holds a place in my heart and funny bone.  It skillfully combines irreverence, crudeness, heartbreak and soul in one artful package.

The movie is absurd, crass and violent, however it conveys a message of hope and love by the end credits.  The relationships between Billy Bob's drunken, philandering Willy (Santa), Lauren Graham's libidinous bartender (Mrs. Santa's Sister) and the profoundly neglected and overweight youngster (Thurman Murman) they encounter while squatting in his parents' mansion, make this movie.  The rest being merely hilarious trimmings.  This movie also features John Ritter's final performance as a hilariously prudish mall manager.

One of my favorite parts is when, after serving a Santa-suited Willy drink after drink at the bar, Lauren's character ends up fucking him in his car, bouncing up and down in his lap, screaming "Fuck me, Santa!  Fuck me, Santa!" and refusing to let him remove his red hat.  Kills me every time.

Perhaps this movie gets to me because, in my late twenties, a group of friends and I were recruited to portray Santas and Elves at the local shopping mall, so I have already had a glimpse into the private world of this Christmas tradition.  Janet*, the middle-aged organizer of the Christmas show at the local mall, happened to be a student in my Dramatic Scriptwriting class.  We were all strapped for cash.  She managed to convince me and another girl to work as elves.  She persuaded two of our classmates, Peter and Gabe, to alternate as Santa.  I happened to be secretly sleeping with Peter, so it was kind of kinky to think of being Santa and elf together.  Or at least it seemed like a fun idea initially.

But anyone who has actually worked in one of these North Pole mock-ups can tell you it is anything but fun.  Looking back, though, I have to laugh at the overall absurdity of the situation.

Gabe fitted the role of Santa perfectly.  He wasn't fat or anything, but with the fake belly and beard he had presence, solidity and warmth enough to be convincing.  He had a maturity in his face that helped as well.  I'll never forget the wait inside the elevator as we prepared to exit as if Santa had just parked his sleigh on the roof.  Janet, the woman in charge, was nervous, and awaiting a signal to let us know when to exit.  I was not too happy in my ridiculous elf outfit and wondering what I had gotten myself in for.  While we waited, we joked around and Gabe tried out his Santa voice.  All of a sudden,  Janet leaned closer to Gabe and said in a sharp voice "You've been drinking!".

Gabe and I stared at her.  Gabe shook his head and denied it.  I stared at her like she was insane.  "I smell alcohol on your breath!" she accused.  Gabe turned to me desperately and asked if I could smell it too.  He was freaking out.  I couldn't smell anything and I said so.  At that point I just wanted to go home.  Gabe admitted to getting drunk the previous evening but he'd had nothing since then except toast and coffee.  He swore he'd brushed his teeth.  Everything turned out fine in the end, but I felt so bad for Gabe since Janet had just upped his anxiety several degrees.  He did a fabulous job as Santa that day.

The next day it was Peter's turn.

My boyfriend, for lack of a better term, who had dazzled me with his good looks at the beginning of the term, having just returned from helping a friend build a log cabin in North Carolina, had grown thin from a diet of nothing much more than coffee, pot and rye whiskey.  He was a brilliant writer and an entertaining but feckless charmer.  The sex was great though, so I put up with his idiosyncracies.

I had my doubts as to how convincing this lanky, long-haired lothario would be as Jolly Old St. Nick.  My doubts were confirmed the first time he put on the costume.  Honestly, he looked nothing short of ridiculous, his long blond hair pulled back in a ponytail under the Santa Hat, his boyish face barely disguised behind the fake beard and moustache, his body rail thin in the suit, even with the fake belly protruding forward.  We could barely get the belly to stay in place.  Of course when he needed reassurance that he looked like Santa, I swore he looked fine.  But as we made our way from the dressing rooms to the Santa display, I really had to try not to laugh.  It wasn't just his appearance.  It was the fact that the way he sauntered down the hall, waving his long arm in greeting, was so distinctly un-Santa-like, I wondered if we would fool any of the kids at all.

I got through that afternoon, enduring knowing glances from under the Santa hat, whining children and annoyed parents.  He actually did a really good job, despite not being the typical mall Santa (whatever that is).  I don't know if the kids believed he was Santa.  Perhaps they thought he was a rather tall elf who was helping out by pretending to be Santa.  Whatever the case, they went along with the sharade.

I ended up quitting after a week because I got a better job at a clothing store.

But I still get a thrill out of knowing I was having hot sex with Santa that year...

And I assure you that I did not get one coal in my stocking even though I was a naughty, naughty girl.

*Names have been changed