Santa Claus was more emotionally needy than I expected him to be.
TR and I had stopped to refill our water jugs at a remote BLM outpost manned by volunteers.
“You guys here to see the museum,” he asked hopefully. He was a large man, sporting a full beard and was almost surely the real Santa.
“No. We’re just here for a little water.”
He asked the question as if we weren’t covered in a week’s worth of dust and driving pickups loaded with camping gear and dogs.
His wife, AKA Mrs. Claus, comes out and brings Santa a spotless cowboy hat. Were if it covered in grime, it would be a near twin of those worn by TR and myself.
“Those are our cats,” he gestured towards two big toms.
TR and I were non-committal, but they looked like quail killers and bird-dog fodder to us.
“One has different colored eyes and the other has different colored balls,” he said casually, adding, “I can tell them apart coming or going.”
That night over beers we speculated that Mrs. Claus might have brought out a different hat, depending on what the visitors were wearing.
We imagined Santa in a beanie, sombrero or maybe a cheesehead.
Weeks later I stop by again, ostensibly to get water. I throw my hat on the floor board and don a ball cap.
“Here to see the museum?”
Mrs. Claus walked out a moment later, bringing him a barely worn baseball cap.
I guess it’s a lonely life.