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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kvetching about Santa

From The Polar Express--Warner Movies
 In his brilliant, riotous book, Born to Kvetch, professor and stand-up comic Michael Wex pays homage to Yiddish as an essential ingredient in a subversive glass-is-half-empty under-culture. Today and during my childhood, that influence lives on via the dark nuances of Jewish American humor and in the critical skepticism of Americans of Jewish ancestry. Glass-is-half-empty Jews? To this end, we must also give credit to the  Jewish American Santa Syndrome.

Item: At age four, after asking my father how Santa could possibly gain passage through our elfin chimney, I learned that life was unfair:

 Santa Visit here? We celebrate Chanukah.

 Item: Two years later, after inquiring whether we might petition Santa for a cameo appearance, I learned still more from my paternal grandmother:

Ho! Ho! Ho! The big guy is pure fiction. But don’t tell your non-Jewish friends. You’ll upset them and, besides, they won’t believe you.

Santa, a fraud?  That proved hard to swallow, much like the jarring but gradual realization that Killer Kowalski and Bruno Sammartino were by and large well-conditioned thespians.

 Item: A critical experiment at age seven. Having hung two stockings by the fireplace on Christmas Eve, I awoke on Christmas Day to find them half empty with gravel (beloved paternal grandmother at work again).

Given my no-nonsense upbringing, I am delighted to share the holiday bobbles below, retrieved in a quickie Lexis/Nexis search:

Authorities Seek Bank Robbing Santa 
UPI—December 23, 2009 Hermitage, Tennessee
"I don't remember a Santa doing that," said Police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford. "I don't recall when a costume like he had today was used for a robbery.” However, the costume is a popular disguise among criminals nationwide. Police in Pennsylvania said a gun-toting Santa robbed a bank earlier this month. One of the most infamous heists in history, the Dec. 23, 1927, Santa Claus bank robbery in Cisco, Texas, resulted in the deaths of six bystanders.

Man dressed as Santa Claus arrested for trying to run over police chief

Associated Press, Chester, Pa. December 26, 2001
Police said William Hatzell, 57, was wearing a full Santa suit when he was stopped and questioned by Bethel Township Police Chief David Houser on Saturday. When he was asked for identification, Hatzell refused to hand it over, and instead backed his car into Houser.

Santa impersonator robs gas station                                                                                                                                               Evening Post (Wellington) December 22, 1997
As robbery disguises go, this one lacked originality, but still served to throw off the chase.

Fraud suspect plays Santa Claus
UPI—Nashville, December 6, 1984.
Garland Shushan, who said he felt like Robin Hood, has been arrested for playing Santa Claus with other people's credit cards--a scam he learned watching the television show ''60 minutes.''

Research Brief:
Claus-trophobia: Sitting on a fat stranger's lap is scary for many kids
The Standard (St. Catharines, Ontario) December 23, 2004
For the second consecutive Christmas, behavioural researcher John W. Trinkaus is investigating the relationship between children and shopping-mall Santas. For more than 90 per cent of the youngsters studied, he reports a visit to St. Nick was met with indifference, hesitance and even Claus-trophobia.

 You may be wondering why Wig & Pen has failed to include among these chestnuts an example of inappropriate contact between Santa and his young visitors. It’s simple: Wig & Pen disapproves. And most emphatically, Wig & Pen is a family blog. Still, every rule has its exceptions:

Woman accused of groping mall Santa
The News-Times, Danbury, Connecticut, December 18, 2007
A Danbury woman was charged with sexual assault after allegedly groping Santa Claus at the Danbury Fair mall. Danbury police were called to the mall over the weekend. The mall Santa told them Lamy had touched him inappropriately while sitting on his lap. Capt. Bob Myles said police were able to quickly find and identify Lamy because she was on crutches. She has been released on a promise to appear in court on Jan. 3. 

Are you a mall or department store owner who's had enough? Get legal advice here.

Warmest Holiday Wishes from Wig & Pen!

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