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Off the Charts in Tears
By Timber Masterson

I poke my head out in the crystalline December air and commit to leaving my abode. I innocently go out looking to inhale some fresh air, but am forced to ingest the ever-popular Santa Claus Parade. I'm agitated, quickly exhausted, forced to view the urgency of suburbanites hustling and bustling, chomping at the bit to purchase presents that'll only be returned by spoiled offspring days later for cash to feed that pot and porno mag addiction. Yes, I'm far from in the mood for such ridiculous prancing. Also darkening my day -- the story already having leaked of Comet and Blitzen, selling their meaty, raw, tiny charges into slavery -- their rotten and embarrassing behavior, now dubbed 'Reindeer-syndrome' by some Eastern Syndicate -- the latest en vogue disease to get all flustered about. A good twenty feet above the heads of bewildered holiday zombies, a sign that I could have sworn said COME ALL YE HATEFUL billows in the breeze, but I could have read it wrong. All this, amongst earsplitting Charlie Brown Christmas music, performed by an astonishingly talent-free and all-too-tinny out-of-step and visibly nervous -- and perspiring -- grade nine all-brass bands.

The amount of papier-mâché involved in this weirdo frightful event is amazing and I'm feeling too much like Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, pacing amongst the crowd, looking for an opening, too easily lost in film noir pursuit of a victim, one that warrants it. There is a SWAT team for crowd control and, yes, there is tension. Gargantuan wavering snowmen with blistering swollen heads -- perfect bludgeoning targets, easily pummelable, zooming in on carrot noses; baffling tall gents in sweaty-antlered-outfits that only bring harm to children's defenseless minds. All now smashes to the ground, all left deranged, damaged and tainted. Everybody's brains and bodies seem barricaded, bewildered Christmas wanderers deserving of what's coming to them (at least that's what would happen in the movies), this from my bruised and purpled perspective.

A little girl dressed all in rhinestones and sparkly pink Yuletide gear, perched on a demented float, rides by at the jet speed of a beached sea turtle dragging a bloodied javelin.

She's energetic, inexorably excited, her smile gigantic and beaming. Later I figure out it had been painted on by a sluggish past-her-prime make-up artist, disturbingly nick-named 'Turtle.' She minces about, feverishly waving wands and batons (the child, not 'Turtle') at the crowd, then suddenly our eyes meet. This minute hellion tries to extract a big old It's a Wonderful Life holiday smile and grander wave from me, but I'm having none of her rehearsed delight. My response is a tilted head - perplexed and inquisitive - plus a knowing squint and my arms folded uncompassionately. Let's have some fun. I toss her a red and white candy-cane-flavored Frisbee, sharpened. I'm pretty sure she, and security, thought I was trying to pick her off.

She becomes self-conscience and shaky as my charming presence speaks to her:

"Just what are you doing, you homunculun oddity? What parental orb arranged for you to take part in this mockery of Old Saint Nick? Why the predictable pink and fake gems? What of your sparkly facade? Are you not chilly, inside and out? Can't you catch a damn Frisbee?"

All this spoken with a skeptical glance, not trying to be overtly harsh, really just wanting to cross the damn road. She starts to bawl, as loud as a child wearing pink, sparkles and a painted-on-smile bursting from too much cotton candy, rehearsal jitters and role in this carnival-crap scam-a-rama, can bawl. I had set little Hecubus' heart aflame and was called a "Mirthless Puddinghead Scroogester" by onlookers. A balding, Hudson's Bay-coated gentleman, clutching festively bright packages billowing with brilliantly colored ornaments (probably her father, or a Hudson's Bay Christmas tree salesman) runs to her rescue. He holds her close and comforts. The little girl spins her head around devilishly to cast the Damian-Omen-like finger in my direction, sealing my fate, casting me out. Fuck. This isn't going well, this 'crossing of the street' idea is now a complicated cavalcade.

The indistinguishable fatherly salesman type guy comes over and punches me in the nose. I slip and fall backwards, crushing a couple of seniors not paying proper attention. I admit I may have been half-deserving of a knock, though not fully deserving of the promotional funeral flyer he flicked atop my disheveled frame, the one that boasted of reductions on caskets. Now the day is really getting going. Par for this course? Uncertain, as the pro shop is shut down for the season. No one to monitor this mapless story of menschless, messed-up munchkin mayhem. Jesus.

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