In his stead, he offered up his buddy, Frosty the Snowman, but at the thought of having to faceoff with one of BW's hard-hitting journalists (who, it was rumored, would no doubt inquire about that one time that he did that one thing with his pointy carrot nose), Frosty sweated so badly he melted most of his bottom and part of his middle, requiring a lengthy recuperation at a rehab center in Kenai. The man in the red suit, as cliched and predictable as he might be to BW's well-educated, discerning readers, was the only remaining option.
So in preparation for our interview, we beefed up on our St. Nick history. Modern-day, American Santa Claus is a "milkshake conundrum," that is, one part myth, one part history and one part pure parental deception thrown into the blender of time to result in a tradition that's inexplicably inseparable from the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ (which strangely happens to coincide with Roman and pagan traditions, but that's a whole other can of candy canes altogether). True enough, it is widely believed that the Saint Nicholas on whom Santa Claus is said to be based was a Christian bishop in 4th century Byzantium, but with a few European influences thrown in, as well as all the modern complications of a consumer-based Christmas, a definite association between a modern Santa Claus and the religious aspect of Christmas is about as concrete as an al-Qaida-Iraq link. Hanukkah Harry, as un-PC as he may be, at least had origins that were less-obscure and some decent celebrity contacts in his little black book.
Naively, we thought "jolly old St. Nick" would give BW an exclusive "man-behind-the-myth" interview. Unfortunately, we caught Santa just before he was headed on stage, and hurried by his handlers (yes, this is where the benevolent Father Christmas starts sounding more like Beyonce), he was able to spare but few precious moments. What follows is the entirety of a very brief account of what a Boise-based Santa Claus had to say.
How old are you?
I was born in the year 255.
I'd like to ask you some questions that get to the man behind Santa ... how many years have you been Santa?
And do you belong to the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas?
Well, this particular order of Santas considers themselves a national fraternity of A-list Santas and they have this whole political correctness thing happening. They don't want Santa smoking a pipe because pipes cause cancer, and he can't say "ho, ho, ho" because they feel it's derogatory to women, and now they're saying—as spurred by the surgeon general—that because Santa is overweight, he's a bad role model for children and should lose weight.
They have a right to their own opinions.
Will you be losing weight anytime soon?
Not as Santa, no.
How many kids do you have ask you for a gift that's not a material thing? Like world peace?
It happens quite often.
Do you have kids who say you're not really Santa while they're sitting on your lap?
Very rarely do I have children think I'm not really Santa. I really don't have a problem with that.
Are all the kids who come to you nice, or do you throw in a few naughty ones for good measure?
They are all nice. Children are good, and they are nice.
How do earn a living when you're not playing Santa?
I am Santa Claus.
You're Santa Claus 24-7 all year round?
I am Santa Claus.
What does Santa Claus want for Christmas?
After I get done delivering presents, I want a nice, warm evening with Mrs. Claus.
What are you getting Mrs. Claus for Christmas?
This year, she's getting a diamond watch.
Does she already have the matching ring?
Oh yeah, we've been married quite awhile.
No plans to play the Easter Bunny, I suppose?
No, I wouldn't want to rain on his parade.