I now understand why all the mall Santas I sat on the laps of as a child were likely drunk. After hours gagging on fake beard hairs and trying my best not to emotionally scar children by blowing the big secret, I craved a malty porter from the Lodi Beer Company like Mr. Potter yearned for poor peoples' tears in "It's a Wonderful Life."
Sitting under a gunmetal gray sky in Downtown on the corners of School and Oak streets Saturday, I pretended to be the great Santa Claus. For two hours I struggled to keep my baggy costume from revealing I was merely an impostor of a worldwide superstar. But as I saw how kids wore authentic looks of joy when they saw me from a block away, I put my misery on hold and in my narcissism started cherishing being such a big deal for them. Having a raven-haired female give Santa a peck on the cheek also made it tolerable.