I played Santa Claus once in my life. I was pretty drunk and I regret it. I worry to this day about the damage I may have caused.
It was a Christmas party in the basement of my old apartment building and a mom was there with her four-month-old baby. And the mom set that baby on my lap. So I was that child’s first Santa. And I still remember how,after one look at me, the placid expression on that infant’s face twisted into a look of deep bewilderment verging on horror. The mother whisked her baby away but I fear the damage was already done.
Because you know what the experts say. They say children are profoundly affected by things that happen to them at times they can’t even remember, like in the first few years after they exit the womb or even while they are still in the womb. So you have to be real careful what you expose a child or fetus to because it’s easy to screw them up good without you or them even knowing it. That’s a pretty freaky thing to consider. I don’t remember whether that baby on my lap was a boy or girl. But I feel remorse when I walk a mile in that baby’s diapers. I think about how I would have felt as a baby seeing a drunken me dressed like Santa Claus looming above. Surely that left a scar. A baby's tiny subconscious isn't developed enough to process existential terror.
But that was a long time ago and we as a society didn’t know what we know now. Hell. I remember the days when pregnant woman got drunk on their asses. We now know that can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can cause brain damage, facial malformations, learning disabilities and other brutal stuff like that. But how much do we still not know? I mean, not long ago I saw a pregnant woman eating a Twinkie and I said to myself, “What the fuck!” I bet soon scientists will discover a horrible thing called Fetal Twinkie Syndrome. And what about when newborns sleep in cribs in the same bedroom where the parents are getting it on? It may seem harmless, but the baby’s tiny subconscious absorbs it all.
Who knows what we still don’t know? So you can’t be too careful.
I often think about that baby on my Santa Claus lap. I think about him/her whenever a former child star breaks into a rage and punches out a mall cop. I think about him/her when Rahnee watches that depressing TV show about hoarders. And I’m convinced that’s what became of the infant I subliminally traumatized. I wish I could take it all back. But like I said, I didn’t know better. And I was drunk.