Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Seasoned Santa

Saturday my friend and I were eating lunch on 45th in Wallingford. We were having a fairly intense conversation about her middle school students, and mental illness, and certain intersections of the two topics. Serious as the conversation was, I was startled when her voice trailed away mid-sentence. I glanced up sharply to see if she was, I don't know, overcome with emotion or something.

She was staring out the window behind me, smiling an enchanted sort of smile. "Thel!" she said. "Look at all those Santas!"

I swiveled to follow her gaze. Across the street from us, a ragged line of about 25 Santas trudged east on 45th. We watched in amazement as they all schlepped out of sight. It wasn't the last of them, either; throughout our lunch, smaller groups of Santa Clauses streamed east through Wallingford. It was a delightfully bizarre holiday sight.

On our way back to my friend's car we happened upon two more costumed women, dressed as loose interpretations of Santa. And I do mean loose!--they were a couple of stocking-clad, plunging-necklined, mini-skirted hot mama Santas.

"What's up with all the people in Santa costumes?" my friend queried them.

"It's a training for Macy's," one of them answered as they strolled away.

We got into the car and looked at each other. My friend raised her eyebrows. "Macy's?" I asked.

"Dressed like that? Not a chance," she scoffed. (Later investigation reveals that it was the procession of Santarchy Santas traipsing down to the U-District.)

The best part, though, came as we were driving away. We spotted one final couple walking up a side street toward 45th, festively garbed in matching red-and-white outfits. There was something different about their costumes, though; their suits seemed like patchwork quilts, not the traditional solid red with white trim. As we drew alongside them I gleefully recognized the material: it was dozens of red-and-white beef Ramen packets, flattened crisply and fastened together. They were actually tailored quite well! I really wish I'd had my camera with me; as it is, you'll have to trust me that I did not hallucinate Mr. and Mrs. Ramen Santa.