Saul told me that his girlfriend was reaching the end, threatening to throw him out because he was such a lazy piece of crap. What alternatives did he have?
I worried that the Santa Claus gig would be bad for his self-esteem.
“You’re Jewish, Saul,” I said, which used to mean something maybe.
He lobbed it back at me, how wearing a dress was selling out. And it’s true. I am a girl who feels like a con artist in dresses, doesn’t tidy up well, hair a mass of cluttered dreams. Still, a woman like me is expected to wear a dress when she graces the lobby of a temp agency.
We shared this feeling of daily duress but there were other things too. He stopped by my apartment to worry out loud. It felt like an opportunity to talk him out of this or that humiliating job, only this time I could see he needed cash and that he had no out. Saul’s glasses were cracked and wrapped with a bandaid.
“I’ll become a sex worker. If not this.”
“Well, if you do the Santa thing you won’t have to lose any weight,” I said.
My plan was to ruin his engagement. To charm Saul with my ratty t-shirts and mouse-eared slippers. He wanted that too, I think, there was this desperate yet comfortable feeling scooting around between us.
The department store manager who noticed Saul in line at the cash machine a bit drunk in the evening probably thought he looked jolly enough to pull the Santa thing off, I guess, and the guy he was using had suddenly died so he was in a pinch. It was Saul’s lucky day.
“Well then, ho, ho, ho,” I said, and danced around him like an evil elf. His girlfriend was the kind of person who made fun of people like me, secret artists who hadn’t yet found their art form. Who lived for the moment. Soon she’d discard Saul, and I’d be there with my net. I could feel his bad love karma leaking out all over my living room.
And sometimes we would talk about how different he and I were. How he loved me like the coffee at the bottom of the pot. “Bitter but strong.” He told me this as a way to explain why I probably wasn’t ‘the one’ but that he kept coming back anyway. And then he would change his mind for a few hours, and we’d smooch on my moldy sofa. “I was a good girl this year, Santa,” I would say, kissing his broken glasses.
Nothing prepared me for what happened when Saul visited me in costume. I flushed with desire, so horny it frightened me. Why was Saul so lamentably attractive in his scarlet velvet uniform with white cotton trim? “Can I touch your beard?” I asked, tugging his belt buckle and fiddling with the jingle bell on his hat. “Please, Santa. Can I shine your black boots? Can I pat your jolly round little belly?”
“Sure, kid,” he said. “Make your list. I’ll check it twice.”
He made it clear that it didn’t matter whether I had been naughty or nice. I was once an Easter Bunny girl and now Santa was taking hold of me, undressing me before the hearth fire as I stared at windows filling with snow.
“The neighbors can see us,” I said because it was night and the living room where he was undressing me was full of firelight near the large picture windows.
“I know,” he said. “Don’t close the curtains. I want to see Christmas lights on all the houses.”
For a while, I worried the neighbors might see Santa in my living room. Then, I became fearless because of all that brandy in the eggnog. As my neighbors turned on their icicle string lights, eggnog lips were kissing me slowly.
Making love to Santa was like cuddling a friendly polar bear near a fire. His eyes danced over my naked body like big snowflakes falling outside my picture windows in moonlight. His hickeys were shaped like candy canes on my legs. His beard, white as snow, brushed all over my thighs, tickling. His lips on my breasts were hotter than chestnuts roasting over an open fire. Before I knew what had happened, I heard the distant sound of sleigh bells and my neighbors carolling on my snowy yard.
“Climb into my pack,” Santa whispered before we crawled into the big red velvet sack to discover delights more exciting than a hundred wrapped presents waiting under the tree.
Santa was a giver, and I was happy to receive. He kissed me as if every corner of my living room were decked in mistletoe hanging from my ceiling.
We balled underneath boughs of holly.
Fa la la la la, la la la la (fa la la la la, la la la la).
We fucked like reindeers on Christmas eve.
“Saint Nicholas,” I whispered, feeling sugarplums dancing inside me. “Oh, St. Nick!”
Without a hint of modesty, he showed me his sleigh full of toys.
“Eat me like gingerbread. I’ll drink you like spiked eggnog,” I whispered.
As Santa went down, I closed my eyes and listened to sleighbells.
Afterwards, I must have fallen asleep under the Christmas tree while sucking on a giant candy cane. I woke with peppermint breath beside an enormous snoring naked Santa.
I crept to the heated chimney. Santa woke and lit a pipe in his teeth. Smoke drifted in halos over his broad face.
Near the blazing fire, I found Santa’s warm lips had marked my legs, arms, chest, and belly with wreaths of kisses glowing like the meteor-shower lights on my neighbor’s brightly decorated houses.