“A Vintage 1977 Port,” Martin says, his arms crossed, thumbnail in his mouth.
“That’s what you want?” says the mall Santa. He wouldn’t let Martin sit on his lap, but he was willing to hear his Christmas wish.
“That’s all I want.”
“I take it that’s a good year?”
“The best,” Martin beamed. “It’s the year I was made, too.”
“Oh, very good, Martin. Well, I hope you’ve been a good boy. Maybe you’ll get your wine.”
“No, no, Santa. Port.”
“What difference does it make?” Santa asks, his black boot padding the floor.
“Sir,” one elf butted in. She would be been attractive if she wasn’t so angry-looking. “We have a lot of children waiting. Santa doesn’t have time to argue with a grown man.” She said that as if it was a bad thing.
“What year were you born?”
“I’m not going to answer something like that!” the woman holds her hips. They weren’t very big; she’d probably never had kids.
“Look. It doesn’t really matter,” Martin shoots back. “You look pretty young. Have you ever had a fine Port?”
“I can’t say that I’ve ever had port. No.”
“You’ve been deprived, Miss…” Martin sees Santa beckoning the next child in line. He steps in to cut the boy off. “Now, to answer your question, Port is completely different from just wine.”
“But it is wine,” Santa says.
“And a tiger is also a cat,” Martin wags his finger at Santa’s jolly nose.
“Sir, I’m calling mall security,” the elf says.
Martin laughs with all of his Christmas spirit and holiday disdain rolled into one. She raised the radio to her lips. “Little girl, I merely wish to make sure that Santa understands. I wouldn’t want a Vintage Pinot instead. You understand, don’t you?”
Her dull eyes look like that of a fish staring out of its tank at a troublesome child. “This is Sasha. We have a man here bothering Santa. Thanks.”
“Santa, may I ask for one thing before I go?”
“What is it,” Santa sighs.
“Amnesty. I’d like to think that we’re still square.”
“Of course, Martin. Just keep staying good for the holidays. Maybe you’ll get your Port.”
“Thank you, Santa. You’re a saint. The saintiest!” Martin calls as he jogs away, waving.
“Was that guy for real?” the elf says.
“Only as real as you or I, Elf. Don’t let it worry you so much,” he smiles at the confused child and his perturbed mother who are waiting next. He pats his knee slowly. The child, thumbnail in mouth, moves forward with his mother’s coaxing. Everyone in line takes another step forward.