By Sandra Beasley

I have the hots for Santa Claus.

Here, I’m supposed to clarify–not really Santa, just the local guy who plays him once a year. A coltish college freshman saving up for a new car. Some older man with sad-lidded eyes, alcoholic tendencies, and kids he only sees once a December.

But I won’t clarify. That would be a lie. The real Santa is what gets me wet. Maybe it’s his lists of Naughty and Nice. That half-moon belly. Can you imagine hearing that booming laugh while you were tied up? The red coat. The crack of a whip over reindeer.

I like my authority figures with a dash of myth.

Before you judge, we all have our kinks. We just don’t talk about them. Like the old grad school friend who carries a Garbage Pail Kid card in her wallet summing up the entirety of her S&M fantasies. Like the time I walked in on my father mid-2 AM lather in our living room while The Flying Nun played on TV.

This year I decided to do something about it. I was tired of Ryan-Gosling movie marathons with a bottle of Stoli and stillborn dates. I had nothing to lose.

I got into line at the mall, taking care to stand behind a mom shepherding three kids. Easy enough to position my body so that one of them, at all times, appeared to be mine.

One by one, the flash-pops moved us up the line. As I got closer I could see Santa, though not the man under Santa. Whatever particular features he had were unrecognizable beneath a layer of cotton beard and pillowed girth.

The boy in front of me hopped onto Santa’s lap, whispered in his ear, and smiled for the camera. The boy moved on to the candy-caned holding pen where they take your money. Santa looked at me, wondering why I had not followed my pseudo-son.

I stepped up and leaned in. “Take your break,” I said, letting my breath warm his ear. “Now. Meet me behind the Elf Workshop.”

The “Workshop” was a printed backdrop, a heavy canvas that hung a foot out from the wall. I slid behind it. Would he show? If not, it wouldn’t be my first U-turn on the highways of the heart. I’ve found myself in a Chicago honky-tonk at 2 AM with a man I met on an escalator. I’ve kissed a nameless magician in Vegas in return for a coin trick. And once a father and his adopted son both hit on me at the same dinner party, which was truly confusing.

I’d worried the backdrop’s ripple would give us away if Santa joined me. But, as a fat man slides down a chimney when properly motivated, he made room in that narrow alley.

“So you are–“ he started.

I put my finger to his mouth to shush him. “I am a woman with an itch in her stocking.”

Up close his eyes were blue and his lips, framed by a fake beard, were full. I couldn’t tell his age, nor did I want to. Santa has no age.

Santa, as it turns out, does have minty fresh breath. Maybe the elves see to that.

I reached for the brass buckle on his belt before realizing it was useless, nothing more than decoration. Under the long coat his pants were held up only by an elastic band that I slipped easily over his hips. His boxers were red and green plaid, no joke. I put my hand against the flannel and felt him swell and harden under my palm.

“Oh oh oh,” he said, a Santa inverted. “Oh my.”

There wasn’t much time. I’d worn one of those dresses that can double as a shirt: low on top, high at hem. I wrapped one leg around him, sliding my knee up toward his waist, and his hand caught under my knee and lifted me higher.

I’m not going to give you some cute metaphor about cookies and milk left by the fireplace. It was hot. It was fast. If there was a Mrs. Claus, she wasn’t on his mind.

I let him leave first, then waited five minutes. I combed my hair with my fingers. I took a deep breath and stepped back into the open air of the atrium. Maybe a stop at Jamba Juice before I left–

“I saw you,” a kid said.

Crap. I studied her: a keen-eyed 10-year-old with brown hair that someone older had woven into a French braid. She had a book in one hand, a bag from Cinnabon in the other.

“How do you know him?” she asked.

I couldn’t tell if she was accusatory or just curious. What did she mean by “him”? “Him,” as in a mall worker cum fat-suit? “Him,” as in the real Santa Claus?

She either thought I was in violation of Regal Galleria employee policy or the very laws of the moral universe.

“I don’t know him,” I said. That was true either way. But I couldn’t stop there.

“You know how, every year, we get to ask Santa for the thing we really want?” I said.

She nodded.

“Well, I asked for a kiss.” I said. “A grown-up kiss.”

She said nothing. I waited. Nothing. I was dying to get home for a hot shower. The inside of my thighs were sticky and, I suspected, covered with a fine layer of white fuzzies from the trim on Santa’s coat.

“So…what are you thinking?” I asked. She looked at me, solemn.

“I think,” she said, “you should have asked for a pony.”

–Sandra Beasley


(Photo/cover design by Dean Haspiel)