I know that we have not been on speaking terms for some time, but, as the psycho-babblers put it, I am willing to help us to reconcile, but only if you are, in turn, prepared to admit that you are at least partly responsible for our estrangement. After all, you must concede that the moral categories with which you evaluate the gift-worthiness of everyone – “naughty” and “nice” – are, at best, vague, and they are certainly open to highly subjective interpretations. For example, it is true that last year I did offer my guests venison for Christmas dinner, but who can blame me for being a bit vengeful, when I have asked you for a pony for so many years, and you keep bringing me socks and underwear? Besides, it’s not as if I served them Blitzen Burgers or Consomme of Comet, though admittedly, I did consider doing so. At any rate, before I plead my case, as I do annually, in what have been to date my futile attempts to soften your ice-hardened heart, and tell you why my behavior this past year warrants my receiving many great presents, let me describe the three gifts that I would like you to bring me this Christmas.
First, and as ever, I want a pony, and at the risk of offending you, I do not want you to make me the victim of another of your sly tricks this year. I don’t want a toy pony, or a picture of a pony, or, perhaps your cruelest “joke,” I don’t want a renewal of my subscription to “Pony Digest.” No, this year I want an actual pony. Naturally, I will also need a few accessories, including but not limited to, a saddle, a bridle, a stable, and a ranch in the Colorado Rockies. Of course, I do not expect you to bring all these items with you in your sleigh, since I am nothing if not considerate (and please note, Santa – such thoughtfulness makes me not just “nice” but VERY nice).
Second, I want a truck – a black, top-of-the-line Honda Ridgeline, to be exact. I’ll need this vehicle to haul my pony around, and so you had better provide it with a towing ball, and you might as well bring me a horse trailer, as well. Mostly, I just want to park the truck in my driveway, so that I can lean against it and thereby impress the babes who pass by with my immense reserves of cool – reserves which I certainly possess, albeit in a somewhat uncool sort of way. And on the subject of babes . . .
This year, I want you to bring me an Asian girlfriend. Now I know that your North Pole Website does not have a category for this sort of thing, but one of your reindeer is named Cupid, for goodness’ sake, and if you reject my request, people are going to start thinking that you are a life-hating Scrooge, or, worse, a Protestant. I’m not saying that I cannot live without an Asian girlfriend, but there has been no woman in my life for a long time, and maybe I just miss the suffering. You’re a married man, and so I don’t have to explain this matter to you. And truly, it would be a rare and wonderful experience to unwrap something on Christmas morning that didn’t come with a price tag attached to it – at least not immediately.
So that’s it, Big Red. In ranked order of importance, I want a pony, a Honda Ridgeline, and an Asian girlfriend. After all, a man must keep his priorities in order, for there are many women in this world (though most of them in my part of it are annoyingly non-Asian), but not many Honda Ridgelines, and precious few ponies.
Now, let me turn to the subject of why I so richly deserve these gifts. I will not burden you with the many examples of my niceness during the past year, since doing so might make me appear vain, and besides, at the moment I cannot think of any. Instead, let me address what are probably the three most seriously naughty charges that can be brought against me.
I confess that it is true that I did not come to the assistance of the old lady who had been struck by an automobile while crossing my street last spring, and I did, in fact, take her cane while she was unconscious and later pawn it. But I wasn’t driving the car that hit her, and, at least in a sense, I am merely “borrowing” her cane in order to protect it, since I still have the pawn ticket, and, in any event, it’s not as if she’s going to need it during her protracted stay in the intensive care unit, and I did buy her a “get well” card, though I never mailed it, since the cost of a postage stamp has skyrocketed to nearly fifty cents.
I also allow that I have said many harsh things to and about my sons during the past year, and I have thought even harsher ones, but you, being childless, by which I mean happy, cannot imagine the extent of their provocations, Santa. For instance, whenever I defeat them in some contest, whether physical or mental, they immediately accuse me of cheating, which is, of course, nearly always true, but it is still rude of them to mention it. Further, for many years all three of these insolent brutes have been Santa Claus atheists, while I have been staunch in my belief in you. Doesn’t such loyalty (a mega-nice virtue, I should mention) more than compensate for a few minor blemishes (well, perhaps more than a few – and not all of them minor) on my otherwise spotlessly nice record?
Finally, I am truly sorry about taking the lumps of coal out of my stocking last Christmas morning and throwing them at passing carolers. But you were the one who put them in my stocking, and they did have a good feel to them when held in the hand. And admit it, Santa, those offensively cheerful caterwaulers were singing off-key, and you, too, would have been hard-pressed not to pummel them. Actually, if you had made the proper winter arrangements with your colleague, the Great Snow Demon Who Rules the Arctic Wastes and Brings Blizzards, in whom I also firmly believe, there might have been some snow on the ground for me to employ in defense of my eardrums. Instead, I wasted my precious coal on a group of sanctimonious twits, and I subsequently had to resort to burning valuable wood to cook my traditional Christmas Stew in the fireplace. By the way, if I get oodles of presents this year, I’ll send you the recipe, which is a savory combination of elf, sugar plum fairy, and reindeer – I mean moose.
That’s the deal I’m offering, Santa. I’ll apologize for all my modestly naughty indiscretions this past year and vow to do better, or at least to try harder (or at least to try) to improve my conduct in the coming year, and you, in turn, will agree to reward me with the three gifts that I have requested on Christmas morning. In other words, I promise to be good, if you pledge to deliver the goods. That sounds like a decidedly “nice” arrangement to me.