I wake at 8:10 a.m., before the alarm goes off. A first since starting my job as an elf. Sophia got the benefit. In the morning when I have the time and put my mind to it, I can scratch her back in a way that makes her eyes roll into the back of her head and looking for things to lick. It freaks Traci out, this trick, but the cat seems to like it.
I stop at Rosario Food Mart, the bodega at the end of our street and get a 1.5 liter of Poland Spring, some Dentyne Ice and a proud cup of their weak coffeel for 3 bucks. The J train passes overhead as I walk to the station at Kosziusko, but I'm not worried about being late from missing it. I am protected from worry this morning as I walk down Broadway, filling with joy and sugary coffee-infused milk. We are living, Traci and I, in New York, getting by, and THIS is MY neighborhood. Christmas Lights on the tall pine in people's park, the woman sitting outside Lucky's CLeaner's with a glass display table selling calling cards. A woman by the deli at Kossuth asks if I have any change. I don't. It is really cold.
The book I am reading on the train is Argument Culture: Stopping America's War of Words by Deborah Tannen. In the first 50 or so pages, she seems to make her points slowly and with repeated examples. This is gooid and bad for me. Tannen is easier to read than Foucault, but not as unearthing of matters to me, but then, I don't think I've made it a whole 50 pages into a Foucault book. (I don't even know if anyone else would find them comparable.) In fact, many of D.T.'s points about the saturation of warfare language and the media seem almost too obvious to spend so many chapters on. But then, just as I reach the West 34th F Stop, she lays a good one on me - without reading the book you'll have to excuse my broad summation: over half of journalists polled who cover politics feel that politicians are trustworthy, upright people and it is actually the average citizen that the journalists don't trust.
I clock in at 10:32 at Santaland and am directed to one of my favorite jobs: Gatekeeper. I am the elf that greets everyone before they enter Santa's Village. I find out how many are in the party, and usually have time to ask the children if they know what they will ask Santa for Christmas. Today there are whole classes on fieldtrips to see Santa Claus. Groups as big as 35 are sent to the small 10'x8' room where Santa is waiting. Munchkin, Freckles, Jitterbug, and the other elves that escort the classes don't even flinch at the volume of people. Dawn Landes and her Father come through to see Santa just like they said they would.
At break, a manager and other associate ask if I got my name from Midnight Cowboy. Not many people make that connection I say. "I guess not a lot of people around here watch X rated movies", says the manager, and cordial laugh is shared between us. Heh heh heh...Elves watching porn. Seriously.
My next assignment is the Peek Window, where people can look in the window and see how Santa is doing. This is also a fine position for an elf. Despite the tediousness of having to remind people which way is the exit, I get to look in on Santa's visits and also enjoy the commentary and reactions from people who are looking in with me. Between his visits I see Santa belch and blow it to the side before he smiles at the next young one waiting at the door to see him.
My lunch is called very late in the day (4:02), but I don't mind - it will make my shift after lunch seem like nothing. Although I planned to nap for the second half of my break, I'm excited when Traci calls to tell me she's entered the building with Jude and Ilona. I meet them for a moment in the café and then rush back to work early so I can find them in the maze and visit Santa with them. I love seeing Traci - something about her seems full and alive in a way I haven't seen. She has an inner glow that makes her appear to be my old friend and lover and also like no one I have ever known. It's thrilling, and I like walking the maze with her and holding Ilona's hand as we walk. Ilona seems to like it, too, and tho I can't say for sure, I think at one point she tries to offer me some of her candy necklace.
Santa is in a great mood and Candy Cane takes, I am sure, great photos of Jude and Ilona. Later, I see Santa leaving wearing his street disguise so no one will recognize him as he walks through the city. Eyes darker and cap low, he says, "You have a beautiful looking family, Yo Yo." I thank him, but tell him that Traci and I were just borrowing the children. But it feels so nice to imagine if it were true.
After work, I realize I've worn the wrong shoes for the next job which starts in 5 hours. So I train it back home where I nap with Traci in the front room, wake and stuff cheese and crackers down my gullet before heading back to Manhattan.
At midnight I am standing before the M&M's World store. My next job begins