It's sixteen degrees in my sad little town on Christmas eve, My apartment is so hot I type this with my window open wide. I thought I'd share a story from my first Christmas on the run.
Scott and I spent the day hiking at Big Cat mountain outside of Tucson. I'm not sure of the date, but it was after Thanksgiving and before Christmas in 1992. Near the intersection of 6th ave and Ajo, on the way to our favorite hiking places, was an odd little store with the unlikely name of “High Dreams”. We were curious, and often speculated on the nature of this shop. This day, we decided to quench our curiosity and stopped in.
We entered a room of bassinets and other baby paraphernalia. Around the corner was a counter and an area of Mylar balloons and coffee mugs. The proprietor of the establishment, a Mexican woman of about 40 years, saw our bewilderment and told us what we wanted was probably in the back room. We turned another corner and found ourselves surrounded by bongs, pipes, and other instruments of delight.
Mary, who owned the place, asked if I was new in town and if I'd like some work. She told me stories about how, when she first came to this country, she lived at the bus station. She had pegged me as a fellow traveler. Serendipity was a constant companion. I certainly was. Somebody had broken in, and she needed the window re-glazed. I happily complied and satisfied with my efforts, she gave me a pager and promised more work in the future.
I had many duties at High Dreams. I fixed things, painted bootleg pictures of Disney characters and Ninja Turtles on playhouses she sold, and on holidays, they would dress me appropriately and send me into the streets to hand out fliers and candy and balloons. I may have run drugs from Phoenix in stuffed animals. I didn't ask, but they paid me VERY well for that.
I was a leprechaun, the Easter bunny, Cupid, and several other characters. My favorite was when I was Santa Claus. At lunchtime when I was Santa, I walked the two blocks down to the twenty nine cent hamburger stand. “Hambourgesa”. What a fun word. Maybe I should mention that this was the barrio.
On my way back, I was smoking a joint. It was a difficult proposition with the fake beard and all, but I managed. As I crossed at the light at 6th and Ajo, a semi stopped in the intersection and the driver opened his door, stepped out, and yelled out to me: “Santa! I knew it! I Knew it!”. I gave him the thumbs up.
Apparently if you are dressed like Santa in the desert and smoking a big fatty, no matter how casual you think you are, people will notice... and approve!
Merry Christmas, (or the appropriate regards) to you and yours.