I don't need no stinking reindeer . . . .
I know I haven’t written you in awhile. Sure, I’ve been naughty, I’ve been darn-right nasty throughout most of the holidays, but hey, you’ve just gotta understand my situation. I'm a drunk! And the drink makes me forget things.
I never wanted to be bad, things just turned out bad for me. But a year ago something happened--something wonderful! It changed me, and I owe it all to you. Once you hear my story you’ll see what I mean. I know, you probably hear a lot of excuses from people all over the world, but how about showing me some of that good old Christmas Spirit, heh, big guy?
You know, it wasn’t too long ago that I actually believed in Christmas and the whole Santa Claus thing, but I guess I just kinda lost that loving feeling somewhere along the way. You see, I had a spell there where nothing was going quite right for me. No matter what I did, things just turned out bad: my car broke down, I lost my job, the mortgage company foreclosed on my house, my wife up and ran off with some other fella, and then my dog died. Things were looking pretty grim, that’s for sure, but then one day, it happened . . . .
It was Christmas Eve, and I was down at the local pub, you know, helping out around there the best I can with cleaning out glasses, making sure they was all empty, that sort of thing. All of a sudden, this guy comes walking into the bar wearing the red suit, the long white beard, the whole Santa getup. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but what really stood out about him was that he brought these eight cows in with him, see. And I thought to myself, “Well, what’s up with this guy? Why can’t he leave his animal friends outside, for pete’s sake!”
Anyway, he saunters up to the bar and orders nine shots of Christmas Brandy--one for him and one for each of the cows; he even offers to buy me one, which I thought was pretty darn generous of him, ‘cos you know how I loves my Christmas Brandy.
So I say to him, “Sure, big fella, I’ll have a shot with ya, but what’s with all your barnyard friends? It looks like they’ve had plenty of fresh hay and grain to eat this morning, ‘cos they’re making a mess all over the floor.”
He kinda looks at me with a sad sort of grin on his face and says, “I know, I know . . . but it can’t be helped. Tell me,” he says, “do you notice anything different about these reindeer?”
“Duh, yeah!” I said, matter-of-factly. “Any fool can see for himself that something’s not quite right with ‘em. It’s as plain as your rosy red cheeks, buddy, them thar animals is drinking brandy!”
“Uh . . . right,” he says to me, pulling on his beard. “But, anything else catch your eye? Like, you know, something different about their size or shape for instance?”
“Well, yeah,” I pointed out to him. “They ain’t got no dang antlers!”
“Antlers?” he says. “Antlers? Mister, these here animals are cows! Don’t you know a cow when you see one?”
“Looky here, bub,” I said. “I’ve been married close to ten years and nobody's got to tell me what a cow looks like! I knows darn good-and-well them’s cows! I can see the one in the back has done sprung a leak already 'cos she’s a’squirtin’ milk all over the floor. The real question is . . . have they got any names?”
He paused for a second, threw back his straight shot, then pours us both another one. Then he gives me this really strange look. “Names? You asking me if these cows got names? Shoot, mister, aren’t you even going to ask me what happened to my reindeer?”
“Hey, what you do with your reindeer is your own business. All’s I know is that them thar’s cows, and they need names. How long you been farming anyway?”
“Farming? I’m not a farmer!” he says, acting kinda put-out. “I’m Santa Claus! And somebody stole all my reindeer! I was forced to borrow these cows from a fella back in Wisconsin.”
“Well, you don’t have to go a'yellin’ at me, I didn’t take your dang old reindeer! Besides, if you was the real Santa, then them cows would all have names, just like in all them Christmas books. You know . . . Smasher, Prancer, Vomit, that sort of thing.”
“All right, then,” he says, all smug like, “you can help me name them.”
“Sure,” I said. “I’d be glad to help you out. Uh . . . you gonna finish that brandy first?”
He looks at me sideways and lets out a big sigh. “Oh, all right,” he says. So we both drank some more Christmas Brandy, and then he gets these cows to line up in a nice straight line against the wall, see. “Okay,” he says, “you start out. Name the cows.”
“Sure, I’ll give it a shot,” I said, as I slammed back my brandy. “Well, let’s see here, now . . . that first one there’s gotta be a Bessie.”
“Good!” he says. “And the next one, I’ll call Bossy.”
“The third one there looks like my no-good-cheating-wife--I’ll name her Mabel.” I was really starting to enjoy this, and I began to feel the Christmas Spirit warming my heart just like Christmas Brandy.
“And the fourth shall be called, Claire,” he said.
“The fifth one looks like a Roxy to me.”
“And the sixth one I’ll call, Toodles.”
“That seventh one is definitely, Boots--what with them thar black feet she has and all.”
“Ho, ho,” he says. “I like that. And the last one I’ll call Greta.”
“Whoa! Hold up a minute there, big guy,” I said, looking funny at the last cow. “That ain’t no cow at all. Why that’s a bull!”
“A bull?” he says, looking underneath number eight. “Well, I’ll be. You’re right! He must’ve tagged along to keep an eye on the herd.”
“He’s one big hairy sucker, that's for sure,” I said. “You should call him, Bear.”
“Bear . . . I like that, too. Bear it is, then!”
“Well,” I said, “all that hard work made me thirsty. Let’s have some more Christmas Brandy.”
“Keep the bottle,” he says, laughing. “I gotta get going.” He points to the cows and tells them all to wait outside. They slowly shuffle out the front door.
“So you’re gonna take off then, huh?”
“Yeah,” he says, regrettably. “It’s a big day for me, and I gotta get back to work.”
“Aw, that’s too bad,” I says. “I was really starting to have fun.”
“Well, you sure helped me out. Thanks a lot, and Merry Christmas to ya.”
“Merry Christmas to you too, uh, Santa. Thanks for the brandy also, and good luck with them thar cows.”
“Oh, I shouldn’t have too much trouble,” he says. “Bear will help keep them all in line for me.”
And with that, he strode out of the bar.
Now, as I said earlier, I kinda quit believing in Santa Claus--no offense. But after what happened next, I turned into a true believer once again.
You see, outside there arose such a clatter. So I got up and rushed out to see what was the matter.
Cars were slamming on their brakes and coming to a screeching halt; people were honking their horns and yelling and stuff. And in the middle of it all, was that Santa fella, sitting in a open sleigh and a hollerin’ at them eight cows, “On Bessie, on Bossy, on Mabel and Claire; on Roxy, on Toodles, on Boots and on Bear!”
Lo and behold, them cows start a'taking off. Higher and higher they go until they plum disappeared out of sight.
And that’s when I started to believe again.
Oh sure, it sounds like I made it all up, but I tell ya, it’s the honest to goodness truth. The whole thing happened just like I said.
And just so you know Santa, if ever them thar cows need milking, you just look me up, 'cos I likes milk and Christmas brandy a whole bunch too.