Tom stood there in the mall storage room looking at himself in the mirror. He felt pretty ridiculous in the baggy red velvet suit. “Ho, ho, ho,” he said. A knock on the door. “Can I see how you look?” The voice of Dottie said from the other side. Tom opened the door; Dottie smiled and gushed, “Wonderful, just wonderful!”
“You really think so, huh?” Said Tom.
“Oh, my yes!”
“This suit kinda just hangs on me… people are gonna think your Santa’s got an eating disorder or something?”
“Nonsense, we’ll give you a little padding. It’ll be fine, just fine.”
Tom thought he’d give her and him another out… but she didn’t go for it. He felt that he looked like an old surfer in a Santa suit… how could the mall people really go for this, he wondered?
“So, we’ll have a soft opening tomorrow…really just to meet this year’s fantastic staff you'll be working with; just get our feet wet…. Can you meet me here tomorrow at 11:00 AM?”
“Twenty-five bucks an hour?”
“Don’t forget about the free parking,” Dottie smiled and handed him a parking plastic pass.
“When you drive out, put that in right after the regular parking ticket,” Dottie said.
“Well, it ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to, I guess?" Said Tom.
Dottie looked at Tom confused; “Excuse me?”
“Ah, nothing… just some old saying. I thought it might have applied?”
11:10 AM, dressed as Santa, Tom and Dottie walked to the little Santa village on the second floor of the mall, that was going to be his main hub for the duration of this gig. Tom had already learned to tune out Dottie’s ramblings; how meeting Santa was such a lasting memory for the children, and not being in the Christmas spirit at all times was against company rules, and so on. Tom thought back to when he was a child. He was just like every other kid who loved Santa Claus. He remembered his mom taking him to the local department store; he couldn’t recall whether it was Sears or Pennys… one of the two? He chuckled to himself about how excited he’d be to see a fat, old man and how snowballed he was to think he was real goods. It was right there, in that memory that Tom, thought he’s give this silly charade his best shot.
As the two walked to the Santa set, there were three people waiting for them. A Filipino fella in his late 20’s, dressed like an elf, and two females dressed in little sexy red Santa outfits. The first female was white, in her early twenties, very pretty with thick dark hair, and the other was a black girl also attractive, but he couldn’t make out her age. He could see them sizing him up as he approached. Dottie rushed to make the introductions.
“Well crew, I want you to meet our Santa for this year,” Dottie said.
“How do you do, I’m Tom… but you can call me Santa,” Tom said with a smile.
He extended his white cotten gloved hand to Joaquin Romero.
“This is Joaquin, he’s my assistant,” said Dottie.
Joaquin put his hands on his hips.
“Dottie, I told you that I don’t go by that name anymore. My new name is Rockquin! Please respect that,” He said rather flamboyantly to Tom’s amusement.