• 48°

Santa Claus is watching

Lots of people miss lots of things when they choose to live on the lake, and they try to fake it—and well.

I knew some beautiful people that sort of fell into that group. She loved it, but he had a position that required him to spend most of the week in town. Being with other people, she never mentioned it, but I’m sure she missed the social life and things that city folks do, such as teas.

It really bothered her that fishermen would choose to fish near her house, where there was a natural weed bed, and she would call regularly and complain; “They pretend to be fishing, but they are watching me sunbathe!” I would check with her and tried to assure her that they were indeed interested in fishing. Well, she wanted them to fish someplace else! Do you see now some of the problems that I dealt with? I asked her to please not call about that subject anymore. Whew!

One a Monday morning in July, I was washing my boat while stripped right down to only my ragged “cut-offs.” Talk about looking fine! I got a call from the same sweet lady, but she sounded different this time. “Someone is out here—yes, I know, I thought—he’s walking up my pier now. I told him to leave. He’s drinking beer…”

I told her to lock the door, and I would be there in 3 minutes. Well, here I go. I tied my boat to her pier and jumped out. Still just in my shorts, I met a fellow that was dressed about the same, except…Folks, he had long white hair and a snow-white beard! Yes, he did, and just as jovial as you might expect. You see, he was still holding on to one of those plastic rings and what was left of a six-pack of Budweiser.

“Want one?,” he asked. I was still in shock as I took them all and offered him a seat in the patrol boat. I will never forget how he looked, just like, you wouldn’t believe it.

“You know that you are going to jail?” He was just grinning. He was never excited at all, no excuses, etc. I guess he realized that he had me off balance.

Then he said, “Since I’m going to jail anyway, can I finish that six-pack?” Before I could answer, he gave me a stupid little wink as he said, “How about one?” I caught myself nodding, like “why not.” He had me completely mystified!

I wouldn’t look at Ma’s store as we went by, even knowing she had seen me—and this idiot drinking beer. On the way back, I stopped at Ma’s to take what was coming. She was standing there with her had on her hip as she said, “Well, everybody has been calling and asked if you took Santa Claus to jail.” I told them, “Well, he ain’t taking him to church!”

I never will forget him smiling at me in that jail cell. He looked just like a fellow dressed in red I promised, about a half-century ago, that I would be a good boy.