Watching The Polar Express yesterday on DVD, I was reminded of how much I love Santa Claus. The very idea of him, the image of him, the execution of the concept -- wonderful. Love the guy. (Loved that movie, too -- very dark and strange and magical and a little creepy and the type of movie I would have flipped for at age ten.) I'm still not entirely convinced that Santa is actually, certifiably, provably fake; I still think that somewhere between Norway and Finland his hideout waits for my detection. Who's to say that he isn't real, anyways?
When I was in Grade 6 we had to write a Christmas story for class, and I wrote this morbid little tale concerning a certain elf of Santa's who was pissed off at how hard he worked without receiving any credit whatsoever, so he shot down a couple of other elves and kidnapped Santa; I even providedillustrations for my readers' enjoyment, complete with jet-black uzis and maroon-red blood. My teacher wasn't pleased.
Not the usual Santa story, no, and not one I'd write now, but I still would like to write the ultimate, kickass Santa Claus story.
Richard Christian Matheson, son of the great genre writer Richard Matheson (The Incredible Shrinking Man, Duel) had a neat little story in his short story collection Scars about a burnt-out, middle-age executive type who bumps into Santa himself at Club Med one July. Very touching and funny.
Personally, I'd like to write a novel about a burnt-out Santa himself. He would be fifty-five, sixty, as he eternally is. Hanging out in bars. Drinking too much. (If I turned it into a screenplay, I could see Gene Hackman playing my version of Santa.)
The thing is, I would like to write it totally straight and serious, as if this dude really existed. He would be full of guilt and self-loathing; here he is, living for generation after generation, and everybody's stopped believing in him. He's been co-opted by the media and the advertisers. Department stores cheapen what he represents, cloning him for the masses. He resents the fact that he's never been able to bring gifts to the Jews and the Hindus and the muslims. He mourns the disintegration of his North Pole empire. He's the ultimate overacheiver who's flatlined. Lost his mojo.
I'd go into his whole backstory -- how he became Santa, why he stayed Santa, why Mrs.Claus left him, the whole deal.
We all have our own crazy ideas, and mine is to write a novel about Santa.
Don't mock me. It will just give me the ammunition needed to write the ultimate realistic story of Santa's downfall and redemption, a Santa Claus for the new millenium for those who don't believe in him anymore.
I just might do it.