A few years ago I wrote this post, all about one of my experiences of pretending to be Santa Claus for other people's amusement, I mentioned at the start of it that there were going to be four parts to it but, like so many of my good blogging intentions, they never happened. That post just flaps in the wind there now, still frequently visited by naughty people trying to stream the movie 'Bad Santa'. But I've just read it again, and was surprised to find that it's actually pretty funny, and that there were elements to the story I'd entirely forgotten. So here, more than three years later, is my stab at a second part:
During my third year of college I lived in a part of Finglas that the landlord pretended was Glasnevin and compensated for the lack of a social life that I simply couldn't afford by doing a bit of volunteering at a homework club in a refugee centre, where shared the title of 'volunteer co-ordinator' with a far more enterprising and imaginative person than I who went by the name of Sinéad. It was our job to help teenaged asylum-seekers who'd come to Ireland without their parents do their homework, and ensure that there were enough volunteers to meet the demand for it. It was a huge amount of fun and I felt bad whenever anyone commended me on the work, as I it was far too enjoyable to be considered in any way worthy.
Sinéad, being an enterprising and imaginative person, was out and about one day single-handedly organising the Christmas party for the centre while I was suffering through all the added workload that being one year ahead of her in college brought by gawping at pretty girls in the library.
She called me:
"Andrew, would you dress up as Santa for the party and give out a few presents?"
"Ummm...are they not a bit old for Santa?"
"C'mon, it'll be fun and they'll love it."
"Do we have a suit?"
"I'm just about to buy one."
"Do we have the budget for that?" (First and only time I've ever uttered those words.)
"Yeah, it's grand, it's only three euro."
The three euro part should have been the warning, in all honesty.
This costume lacked the musty antique shop elegance of my previous Santa garb by being more of a small, thin two-piece red suit, rather than a glorious crimson robe that could house any trousers I wished, along with many a pillow for full jolly-fat-bastard effect. I just about forced one small cushion under the jacket, before making the decision to keep my jeans on under the flimsy drawstring trousers. Skinny fuckin' jeans they were, grey ones, for I was almost a skinny enough fucker for them back then.
The students, from all over Africa, were indeed thrilled by the sight of me and my big sack of presents, and laughed long and hard. Once again, I felt like a rockstar. A present or two distributed, the laughter became even more uproarious - screeches and hoots everywhere. I was starting to become bemused by just how funny these guys thought the whole thing was. It was only me in a red suit, speaking in a deeper voice than usual, after all.
"For god's sake pull up your pants, man!" exhorted a young man beside me, who has subsequently gone on to slightly make a name for himself as a slightly-known comedian. I looked down to see that the flimsy drawstring trousers had, shockingly, failed me and were now sitting pooled around my ankles while the protective layer of my skinny fuckin' jeans now resembled grubby fuckin' longjohns. I looked at my chest and the corner of a cushion was poking out of the the intersection at the breast of the jacket, like some sort of floral-patterned cotton Janet Jackson.
After I'd waddled back to the toilet cubicles and begun changing back, wishing I had something else to put over the now-shameful skinny jeans, I overheard one of the Nigerian kids having a blistering barney on the phone with his girlfriend from school, who wanted him to meet up with she and her friends, while he wanted to hang out at the party for a bit longer. I think it was only then that I began seeing the asylum seekers as citizens, rather than guests of the nation.