Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I honked at Santa Claus

I honked at Santa Claus.

To be completely honest, I honked about two hundred Santa Claus’s, but I think pounding the horn at any Saint Nick isn't good. Coming back from shopping and late for a spa appointment I was going down Third Street, a block away from mission, when the Honda Civic ahead of me suddenly stopped for the first Santa Claus crossing from the Museum of Modern Art side of the street to the Yerba Buena Gardens. Before the Honda Civic could start came the next Santa, and then the next.

The fifth Santa stopped in the middle of the road and did a pelvic thrust at the cars. The seventh Santa carried a sign with the words "Santa X - Crossing" that looked rather obvious given the number of red jackets and caps that had just gone by. There were lanky Santa’s and stout ones. There was a transvestite Santa and a plump bouncy Korean Santa who nearly fell out of her red shorts.

There was more facial hair than the Phish farewell concert, and the pack gave the sense that they had all camped together at Burning Man a half a year ago. One Santa put candy canes on the cars’ windshields, much the same way flowers were put into the rifles at Kent State. It was getting later and later, and I kept wondering if it was okay to clip an elf.

One came by with reindeer antlers, and a few wore mini skirts. Some of those were girls. Having reached some sort of holiday critical mass, none of them stopped for the traffic lights. I guess on Christmas Eve if Santa obeyed all the highway laws he would never be able to get to all of the nice little girls and boys around even if he excluded the pagan ones. Still I can’t remember too many Christmas carols discussing the merits of civil disobedience or the need to goof helpless people in cars.

I started honking.

It was out of frustration that kept me hitting the horn. The massage therapist I see is brilliant at working on my rotator cuff injury, and I really did not want to miss the appointment. The holidays are stressful enough that the kneading of hamstrings becomes almost essential.

But it was after I had done two steady minutes of pounding that I wondered if I was the biggest jerk on the planet. Who honks at Santa because they are late for the spa? Is this pretty much how you get in the express lane to hell? Was my place on Santa’s homeland security naughty list now etched in stone? Did Scrooge insult peasants during his carriage rides? Am I going to be visited by three ghosts who are going to tell me that I should have made a better move on that one girl during a college summer? Is there nothing but coal for me?

I think we are all busy. Those that are married with kids live in coordinated world of carpools to soccer games or birthday parties. In the "other" category my evenings are spent shuffling to spin class, master swims, lecture series, poker nights, Giants' games, and an occasional movie. We live in a world fueled by Ritalin and caffeine, and in our great rush so starved for time for careers, family, friends that we from time to time push through politeness in the attempt to get just a few moments more. Or we might just sometimes be tired and cranky.

I am starting a new project, cross-country skiing, which I have not done since Reagan was in office. It is a fundraiser for team in training 75% of what I raise goes directly to cancer research and patient services. (if you would want to donate please go to )I need to work out on my Christmas karma somehow - seasonal giving is a good way to balance out the holiday crankiness.

Our only time out on the slopes the coach looked at me with my legs flailing in the preset tracks like Keith Richards at the Rolling Stones office holiday party and wondered how I could just spend so much energy to go nowhere. I wanted to tell her that I had a lot of practice, but I was a little too out of breath for that.

She told me the secret to skiing long distances was the glide zone. Push then glide. Push then glide. If you keep pressing constantly you don’t go anywhere.

I want to apply this elsewhere. In college there was a work hard play hard mentality, which came close, but I think I could this time of year a work hard play easy approach. To misquote the Cranberries I really should let things linger.

Santa, after all, specializes at one hard day of work followed by 364 of kicking back at the pole. I do hope that he in the off hours at his workshop understands how being in a hurry can drain seasonal cheer. I like to think that he, too, must be a speed freak with a carbon fiber sled and getting the fastest reindeer, "Blitzen", he can.

So my wish is that if he could take just a small moment of forgiveness for my breakdown at Third Street and Mission, and that this year he will bring something to help me learn how to glide.