By Jon Pearson
And brushing my teeth, I think of Santa Claus and the North Pole and how round it is at the top of the world and how small my hand is, holding my toothbrush, going back and forth. The sink is white as snow, and there in the snow I can see the reindeer with their big round eyes. I don’t want to spit in the sink because I don’t want to drown the reindeer. Not yet. No one wants to die of toothpaste. So I just stand here in my pajamas and my “Eskimo Woolies” slippers and feel my arm going back and forth. But then I imagine the reindeer all going down the drain and out to the ocean and bobbing along and ending up on a tropical island. I imagine them all wearing sunglasses and, after a while, enjoying the change of pace and the different climate and the fact there are waterfalls and lagoons and all the brand-new sounds and smells.
Santa would go looking for the reindeer in the real North Pole and not be able to find them, even with his big flashlight. And yelling at the top of his lungs, “Rudolph!” the name would go up and up into the cold black sky and hang there looking down like a moon, a giant eyeball, and then pop and cover the top of the world like an invisible hand. “Donn-n-n-n-er!” And Santa, standing below in his red coat, would start to look smaller and smaller until finally he might even disappear into the snow. I brush my teeth harder so Santa won’t disappear. Doing something harder feels like it might keep Santa alive. And it feels good to be alive. It feels white as stars or like the hard white sink, the nice friendly sink that just stands here no matter what happens. Someone could die and the sink would just stand here looking helpful, looking like it wondered if you wanted a glass of water.
I keep the water turned off the whole time I brush my teeth. Mom says that saves water. And I love saving things. I save rocks, rubber bands, shoelaces, thread, string, football cards. And all the money I ever, ever get. So it feels good saving water. I can feel it being saved, building up, getting all pushy and impatient on the other side of the wall. Oceans and oceans of water begging to come through the faucet, but it can’t. Unless I say so. For I am the Water God, and the longer I brush my teeth, the more water I save: billions of tons of water every second, maybe. But, now, I have to spit. So, in my head, I say, “Okay, reindeer, I gotta spit, you gotta go.” And they all say, “Thanks for the heads-up,” because they are very, very polite, and leave. And it feels good to save Santa Claus’s life once again without anyone, anywhere, except me, knowing it. Even if I don’t believe in Santa Claus, which I don’t, but I don’t want my parents to know.
I want them to think I’m still a kid. I am a kid, but not just a kid. Grown-ups think kids are just kids and don’t know stuff. But kids know secret stuff, which is different than more stuff. Anyone can know more stuff. At school I learn more stuff. But not secret stuff. I have to do that all on my own.
Okay, I’m going to share a secret that no one, and I mean no one, knows but me. And you have to get very, very quiet while I say this, because it has to ring inside you like a bell. And don’t tell anyone. Okay, ready? “There is a Land of the Famous Avocado People.” I know you don’t even know what that means. But it’s everything. It’s right up there with “There IS a God.” And in the Land of the Famous Avocado People, children make their parents do things by remote control, or try to. Every kid knows this but is not going to tell, even if you pry his or her head open.
And so I want my parents to think I still believe in Santa Claus, because a present from “Santa” is different from a present from just “Mom and Dad.” “Mom and Dad” are two people, but having to be “Santa” makes them, for a while, one something, like water, but not water. It is hard to describe, because in the Land of the Famous Avocado People, people don’t think in words at all but colors, because it is much, much faster. And they aren’t colors like red and blue but like: I-wish-with-all-my-might-my-parents-would-stop-drinking-and-yelling, which is a color inside my head, a color that is always there. And Santa knows. Santa is the color of reindeer and snow and seeing in the dark and people getting what they really, really most want—the color, almost, of falling. And I wish I could save my parents, I wish I could save my parents, like I saved the water and like I saved Santa—but I can’t.
Copyright Pearson 2015