Did I ever tell you about this? It was years ago. I was recovering from a bad break-up, and that’s when we started dating.
What first attracted me to him was his positive attitude—he was always in a good mood. He just had this way about him, he could light up a room, so to speak.
Kids, in particular, loved him. My mom has always said you can tell a lot about a guy’s character by how children and pets react to him. I didn’t have a child or a pet, but I could see other people’s kids adored him.
And he was thoughtful. I’d mention I had a tough day at work, and he’d give me a little felt penguin to cheer me up. My room-mate and I had a fight, and Santa would show up with a tiny plush snowman. One time I called him when my car died to ask if he could pick me up. Of course he said yes. I smiled to see he brought a small fuzzy moose with faux suede antlers.
The longer Santa and I were together, the more shelf space I needed for my stuffed animal collection.
But it wasn’t the materialism that drove us apart, nor the binge eating.
Oh, I didn’t tell you about Santa’s weight issues? He had a sweet tooth. In fact, he liked to joke that he had his dentist on speed dial. (This was way back in the days before cell phones and iPads, I guess everyone’s on speed dial now.) He’d have cake for breakfast, cookies for lunch, ice-cream for dinner. It was the Sugar Channel, 24/7. At first, that was great. I crave sweets, too. But aren’t you supposed to be with someone who makes you a better person, not an obese one?
The thing that came between us, though, was Santa’s insatiable appetite for attention. People recognized him everywhere we went, and it got to be a bit much for me. But S.C. (that was my pet name for him) thrived on attention. He needed it, like I needed a trip to Hawaii.
There you have it. Another of our fundamental differences. When things started to get serious, we would talk about where we should live, as the long-distance thing was killing me, but he loved the cold and snow. He’d say, “How about Montana? Or Alaska? Do you like Northern Canada? Have you ever been to Russia?”
I’d suggest Miami or San Diego and he’d cringe. He’d say (in that upbeat way of his), “Wow! Miami is fantastic! But you know what’s even better? Greenland!” There was just no arguing with him.
He bought me a new winter coat, or I should say he had a friend make it for me. He had a lot of “friends” that worked for him, he never told me his exact line of work except that is was “seasonal” and involved “import/ export.” Frankly, the way he hid the details of his life, I thought he might be involved in dealing drugs or embezzling funds or something shady like that.
Turns out he was married.
He had been upfront about things when we met, saying that he was separated. His wife was a bit of a control freak, and the other thing was that they couldn’t have babies. I don’t know if I mentioned this, but Santa was really crazy about kids. It broke his heart to think he might not be able to have any of his own. He brought up the topic a lot:
Santa: MOV, how many children would you like to have someday?
Me: Oh, I don’t know. I never really thought about it. One. Maybe one, or I guess I could have two. Definitely no more than two.
Santa: I want 15.
Me: Did you say 15!? Are you out of your mind? How would you pay for 15 kids?
Santa: Oh, I’m pretty financially secure. Money is not a problem.
See? There was that secrecy thing again.
He showed up on my doorstep one morning with a giant toy polar bear. That’s when I knew something was wrong.
“MOV, I don’t know how to tell you this, but Carol and I are getting back together. I’ve really enjoyed our time together. You’ve made me feel young and merry, but I miss Carol and I need to give our relationship a chance. You are a wonderful person, MOV, and you deserve someone better than me.”
That was it. That was his whole explanation. But instead of feeling like I’d been kicked and dragged by reindeer, I actually felt good. That was part of S.C.’s charm, allure, and charisma: he would take his idea and make you think it was your idea. How could you be mad at someone like that?
I haven’t thought about Santa in years, but the other day I found an old Polaroid of us. I was sitting on his lap, and we looked happy.