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80 Years Ago

Archives 12-20-2000

North County Lines by Bob

An Award Winning Column

For comments or questions contact Bob at bobncl@hotmail.com




Mom took my brothers and me to see Santa Claus.

At first she said she wouldn't. But then Eric started whining, "I wanna see Santa. I wanna see Santa."

Eric's the baby of the family. He's only 37. To get what he wants, all he has to do is whine and Mom's putty in his hands.

Ricky's almost as old as I am. We grew up together when things were tight. We've eaten potato soup without the potatoes. We've painted tadpoles orange so we could have goldfish. We've ran through the woods without shoes or clothes while Mom was chasing us. Ricky and I know what hard times are.

Eric's a different story. He thinks his chosen place is riding shotgun, like he was when Mom pulled out of the driveway on our way to see Santa.

We hadn't gone a quarter mile before Ricky started flipping the back of Eric's ears with his bird finger. The one next to his nose picking finger. Dig for gold all you want. But you won't find it there.

I kept my hands to myself. I'm not a fool. I know when it's this close to Christmas I better be good, or at least act like I am, if I want Santa to bring the stuff on my list.

The redder Eric's ears got, the louder he whined, "Mom, they're picking on me again."

"Cut it out," Mom said, "or I'll stop this car and paddle you both."

"Never catch me," Ricky said.

"I'm an innocent bystander," I said.

Mom floored the accelerator. We were doing 85 when she swung into the mall parking lot.

Mom slammed on the brakes. The front wheels hopped a curb and landed on a sidewalk. "Get out," she said. "I'll pick you up later. Maybe."

"But, Mom," Eric said, "I thought you were taking us to see Santa."

"He's inside," Mom said. "You're my baby. But Judge Judy's coming on soon. Gotta go. Bye."

As soon as we entered the mall, Eric said, "I wonder if they serve beer in here. Not that third-rate American rat spit. But the good kind, like Moosehead or Heineken." Ricky said, "I don't care what kind it is. I'll drink Miller Lite or Busch if that's all they have."

"I wouldn't let my dog drink that pig pus," Eric said.

"You don't have a dog," Ricky said.

"I used to," Eric said, "until your wife sat on its head."

"Ex-wife," Ricky said.

"She was your wife when she killed my dog," Eric said.

"Want to make something of it?" Ricky said.

Eric said, "I'll make something of it. Come on. Throw the first punch."

"Hold it!" I yelled. "Remember the last time Mom left us alone in a mall? Fists flying. Cops. Handcuffs. Jail. Court. Probation. The way our probation officer's mustache twitched when we told her we only work during months with a k or a w. You want to go through all that again?"

"You're getting soft," Ricky said.

"Yeah," Eric said. "Soft."

Being the alpha male in a pack that includes my brothers isn't easy. To maintain control, I have to continually regain control. "I'll show you soft," I said. "Hit me in the head."

"Ouch," Ricky said. "I think you broke my knuckles."

"Mine too," Eric said.

"Unless you want more of the same," I said, "follow me. We're going to see Santa."

"What for?" Ricky said. "He'll just be a guy with a fake beard in a padded red suit."

"Until several years ago, I said, "that might have been true. But thanks to recent advances in cloning, every Santa in every mall in every town and city in the world is the real Santa."

"Wow," Eric said.

"Are you telling the truth?" Ricky said.

"Have I ever made up a story that wasn't true?" I said.

The line waiting to see Santa was about two football fields in length. "This shouldn't take longer than most of the day," I said.

Eric said, "Save our place in line." Ricky said, "We're going to find some beer."

I'm not bragging. Beer is bad for those who can't handle it. But my brothers can drink a 12-pack each in less than an hour and still sing all the words to Honky Tonk Woman. Not necessarily in order. But all the words.

Eric and Ricky returned in less than 10 minutes. Ricky butted in front of me. Eric butted in front of Ricky.

"No beer in this place," Eric said.

"What a gyp," Ricky said.

When it was his turn to talk to Santa, Eric said, "I want a tri-circuited multi-mega zircon chip with 517 trillion gegahertz of framed galvasonic memory responders."

When it was Ricky's turn to talk to Santa, he said, "I want six strippers."

"Watch it," Santa said. "Children are listening."

"Sorry," Ricky said. "I want six exotic dancers and eight cases of Canadian Mist."

When it was my turn to talk to Santa, I said, "I want everyone in the world to be happy."

"He's lying!" Ricky yelled.

Eric yelled, "He's buttering you up before he says what he really wants!"

I'd had all I could stand. I jumped off the stage and landed on my brothers. Santa yelled "Bonsai!" and leaped into the brawl.

As the cops were dragging my brothers, Santa, and me out of the mall, I yelled back at the crowd, "Love is all around you! Don't forget the true meaning of Christmas!"


Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486

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