When I was a kid, Santa Claus seemed like the greatest person on earth to me. Here was a guy who was willing to live in one of the most desolate places on earth, travel all night in an open air sleigh regardless of the weather, and put up with his elves weird little voices just to bring me and all of the other good boys and girls in the world new toys for Christmas. Who does that?! Certainly not me. Sure, I was willing to draw my Mom a picture for Mother’s Day, and sign a card that my Mom then attached to a box that held a new tie for my Dad on Father’s Day, but I wasn’t about to travel from one end of the earth to the other to do it. And I certainly wasn’t going to let either one of them sit on my lap and tell me what they wanted for Christmas while they picked their nose, screamed to the high heavens, or peed their pants. Santa was so awesome!
But as I came to learn at the age of eight, he was also fake. It was Ronnie Thompson who broke the news to me. To this day I’m still not sure if he told me so I’d stop embarrassing myself by talking non-stop about my trip to the mall to see the big guy, or if he did it because he got a kick out of breaking little kids hearts. Either way, I raced home that afternoon and asked my Mom if what Ronnie said was true, that she and Dad were actually Santa Claus.
“Yes honey, it’s true,” she said. “But Christmas is still fun, right? You’ll still get presents.”
The presents part I liked; it was the being lied to part that I didn’t, and it took me awhile before I was able to trust anyone again. So you can imagine how much it hurt when I heard my Sales Manager laugh at one of our colleague’s jokes. What’s the big deal about someone laughing at someone else’s joke? On the surface, nothing. It’s when you know that laughing colleague thinks that joke telling colleague is the least funny person on earth that there’s a problem.
“God, I hate Cathie,” John has said to me on more than one occasion. “She about as much fun as a condemned man taking his final few steps towards the gallows. Her jokes are no better either. Every time I hear her try to tell one I want to make like an ostrich and bury my head in the sand.”
I always laugh when John makes fun of Cathie. I know that it’s rude, but being a fifty-two year old corporate executive is a lot like being an eight year old boy. As long as people are making fun of someone else, than it’s all good.
John always laughs at the things I say, as well. Not in a sitcom-y canned sort of way either, but in a full on, robust, you’re almost as funny as George Carlin sort of way. Which is what made his explosion of laughter at something lame Cathie had said today all the more puzzling.
“You are so funny!” he said after he had composed himself. “For a second there, I thought I was going to pee myself. I’m going to have to tell my wife that joke when I get home.”
Okay, first off, I know for a fact that John and his wife are barely on speaking terms. They haven’t been since she found out he was cheating on her, so I doubt he’s going to rush home to tell her the worst joke ever. Secondly, that doubled over in laughter thing he did at the end of Cathie’s poor attempt at humour? It was the exact kind of laughter he breaks into after I say something funny. Why would he carry on as though she had actually said something clever?
Then it came to me. I had just promoted Cathie to the head of Human Resources. People with fancy titles are worth sucking up to. That’s why John has been laughing at my jokes all of these years! I’m someone important in the company. I have the power to make or break him.
John’s been bullshitting me this whole time, just like my parents used to bullshit me all of those years ago about Santa. At least then I got presents. All I have to look forward to with John is this weekend’s golf game. He’s likely been letting me beat him at that the past five years, too. Damn, I hate fake people!