Writers hiding behind personalities

I think we can begin by recognizing that Santa is a profession. He is exploited. It's cheap labor.

Diana Fu

For the first time in three years, I am stumped as to what to write. I always have an opinion about something, but what happens when opinion columnists fail to have an opinion for a week?

As I look out my window at the blowing snow, I decide to try an experiment. After all, in the land of silent frozenness, one can afford to let the imagination crawl out…

I recall Thanksgiving’s showing of “Pride & Prejudice.” The female star, Kiera Knightley, reputed to be such a shocker to the eye one knows not whether to gape or to drool, cuts a nice figure on the screen. I look around surreptitiously. There’s a couple necking a few rows in front ” a live preview to the unfolding romance. The men, dragged into the theater by girlfriends and wives, look drunk.

The smarter ones take notes from Mr. Darcy so they can feign just the right amount of anti-social disorder to impress the gals. The gals ” myself included ” are tickled pink at the prospect of living vicariously through Lizzie as she gallops around the ballroom, seducing gentlemen laced up in their diaper pants.

My favorite scene comes at the very end when the distraught Mr. Darcy, after a night of insomnia, emerges in his loose pajamas (exposing his hairy chest) o’er the mores, trench coat aflappin’ in the wind as he saunters toward the future Mrs. Darcy (also clad in pajamas). I mean, what girl would reject a psychopath breaking through the dawn?

But alas, all Hollywood constructions come to an end. Mr. Darcy is but a phantom of the female imagination; he doesn’t exist in real life.

In real life, we have Mr. Santa Claus perched in every mall across the nation. One of these unfortunate beings greeted me as I exited the theaters. I have always meant to start up a union for Santas. These men are assiduous workers. They not only have to sweat in a furnace of a costume, they also have to avoid eating white cotton balls glued around their mouths when they belt “Ho, ho, ho.”

Then there are the kids. They come in all shapes, sizes and degrees of bratty-ness. The eager ones jump onto Santa’s lap like they’re leaping onto a double-padded mattress. They help pull the cotton balls off Santa’s beard and ry to make the laconic Santa spill something more than “Ho, ho, ho.” But they’re generally more pleasant than the fearful kid.

Some kids fear Santa. They’re always the ones with the most eager parents, who throw their ducklings into Santa’s cell and leave on shopping expeditions. These kids wet Santa’s gown. They slobber over him and throw multiple fits. Poor Santa has to take anger management classes to deal with these kinds.

Santa is cheap labor. He is exploited. In Minnesota, Santas are the most marginalized population. Unlike the rest of the population that flocks out at the slightest hint of a break, Santas are chained to their bright red-and-green castles padded with fake snow. I think we should initiate a movement to emancipate these men from their posts. They deserve equal rights. They deserve our respect.

I think we can begin by recognizing that Santa is a profession. We can tailor a business card for them that reads: “John Johnson Jr., the Seasonal Santa. Alternative posts held: elf, reindeer and money collector.” Can’t you just imagine Santa at a Carlson wine and dine networking event? “Hi, John Johnson Jr. Nice to meet you” (firmly pumps the hand). “I’m a professional Santa.” I’m sure he’d inspire some entrepreneurial Carlson student to start up a consulting firm, hiring out the best Santas in the country for private parties in communities like Bear Path. Oops, did I just relinquish my IP rights?

Before you spill your guts reading this column, I grant you rest. I hope it has dispelled the conception that I am a gun-toting, flag-burning, female militant. I leave you with something I once heard American poet Billy Collins say on the radio: “Readers are invariably disappointed when they meet the author.”

I think it’s because writers hide behind the personalities they create for themselves on paper. Writers are socially awkward people who prefer to dialogue with fictional characters.

Diana Fu welcomes comments at [email protected]