On the drive in to school, the girls demand another non-fiction fiction story. (These are improvised stories that I sell as actually having happened.)
Julianna (7 years old): Tell us a non-fiction fiction story!
Isabella (she’s 5): Yay!
Me: What should I tell you about?
J (Coming up with a topic completely on her own): Tell us about the time you worked with Santa!
Me (stalling while I figure out a rough story arc. While bumper-to-bumper. Hey, did that guy just give me the finger? I digress.): Oh, yeah, with Santa… This is completely true. Everything I am about to tell you is true.
I: But I thought this was fiction.
Me: Well, it is non-fiction fiction.
I: So, you really worked with Santa.
Me (subtly changing my emphasis): Remember, this is non-fiction fiction. You be the judge.
The story begins:
Me: Remember the time I was abducted by space aliens.
J & I: Yes.
Me: Well, when they brought me back to earth, they didn’t know where I lived. So, they dropped me off on top of the world.
J: The North Pole!
Me: Yes, you’re right. Since I didn’t know where I was, I began to walk through the snow. In the distance, I saw a flashing red light.
I: It was Rudolph!
Me: Yes. Rudolph. I made my way through the haze, and found Mrs. Claus feeding the reindeer. “My, oh my!” she said. “You must be cold!”
I: Daddy, were you really cold?
Me: Um. North Pole… Yeah… Anyway, she took me to her house and gave me a warm bowl of soup.
J: Was it Miso Soup? I love Miso Soup!
Me: Chicken and rice… So, I tell her about the space aliens (that’s a whole other non-fiction fiction story…) When I’m done, she tells me, “My stars! My husband will help you.”
Isabella (excitedly): You got to meet Santa!?
At this point, I wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this story. We’ll be at school in about 3 minutes. And I haven’t even gotten to the meat of the story. Thinking, thinking, thinking.
Me: So, Mrs. Claus takes me to the workshop. We walk through the door, and I see lots of very small people with hammers and screw drivers and drills…
J: The elves!
Me: Yes! That’s right! She leads me around a corner, and (dramatically): There. He. Is!
J & I: Santa!!
Me: Yes! I tell him my story, and he says, “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
I: Does he really say that?
Me: Well, he did to me. To you, maybe not. To me, yes… So I tell him my story and how I have to get back to Los Angeles. And he says, “Well, there aren’t any planes or trains or automobiles,” (I couldn’t resist the reference. Look it up.) “…or busses or boats around here.” He pronounces: “You will fly with me on Christmas Eve!”
J: Christmas Eve?! On the sled?!
Me: Yeah, well… He calls it a sleigh. Don’t know what the difference is… Anyway… You can’t say “no” to Santa, even though it is only September, and when he says “you will fly with me,” who am I to argue?
I: You argued with Santa?
J: No, Daddy DIDN’T argue with him. That’s what he’s saying.
I: Yes, he did.
J: No, he did not!
Crap! Here’s our exit… Wrap it up! Wrap it up!
Me: Girls! Please! So, from September until Christmas Eve, I helped Santa. I was in charge of scheduling the elves. (If you are wondering, it’s a Union shop. Strictly enforced.) Finally, Christmas Eve arrives, and off we go into the night sky. We start in Asia.
J: Oooo! Japan?
Me: Yes! Then, Africa.
Me: No, Honey. Please, I’m trying to finish my story.
Me: Finally, Santa drops me off at my house. And, as he flies away, he let’s out a mighty “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
As the teacher’s assistant approaches the car to let Julianna out, Isabella asks:
I: Daddy, Is Santa fat?
Me: Yes. Very fat.
I: Like you?
Me: Sweetie, I really am not that fat! Honestly, I’m not! Santa was much fatter than me!
I: Well… Maybe then, but now…?
I guess I really should explicitly slap a copyright notice on this:
© 2012 by Darren Otero. All rights reserved.