I’m sharing my story in the hopes that I might save even one girl from the heartbreak I’ve suffered. I’ve always been a sucker for a man in uniform. I’m 39. I should know better than to pick up an elf in a bar a week before Christmas. He should be on duty a week before the big night, right? What was he doing hanging out at Louie’s in Hoboken, downing shots of Wild Turkey like tomorrow was never going to come? But, I’d just broken up with my boyfriend and I was lonely, if you know what I mean. Reginald paid for my rum and diet cokes. We shared pork rinds and a few laughs. The next thing I knew, we had shacked up in my fourth-floor walk-up. I hoped this wouldn’t put me on Santa’s “naughty list.” The guy was an elf, right?
Reginald told me a hard luck story about being injured in the Pole Wars. Who knew ISIS had attacked the North Pole? Hoboken’s got mafia, so I’ve seen some shit, but attack Santa? He told me the DoD kept it under wraps to prevent a panic. One day, he was just an Elf on a Shelf. More rapid than eagles a mission arose, he was selected to be part of an elite SEAL team trained to protect Santa and his workshop. Six weeks ago, the team was nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads. When up at the pole there arose such a clatter, they sprang from the barracks to see what was the matter. As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, they were ambushed. Reginald was the only survivor. I give him credit, he tells a good story, practically like poetry. Or maybe Reginald knew if he talked all military I would do him again.
I thought I had it hard working the night shift at Snackenberger’s Diner. But, I never knew how hard life could be for an Elf on a Shelf. I held Reginald tight in my arms as he cried and told me stories about how he had been bullied growing up in an orphanage. The kids always loved him. He was the Elf on a Shelf. But, Darth Vader seethed with envy because Reginald was loved and Darth was not. I’d seen the movies. I could only imagine what it would be like to be victimized by someone with such a heart as black as coal. The worst thing that happened to me growing up in Hoboken was getting a swirly in ninth grade when Carmine Mancuso asked me to the prom instead of Pearl Gambino. All that crying made me really hot. For an elf named Reginald, he knew how to work a girl’s emotions.
I let him stay with me. I know I was a sucker. But, man, Reginald had stamina. He started taking money from me. At first, it was just a few dollars for Wild Turkey and Vienna sausages. It was Christmas and I was getting good tips at the diner, so I didn’t really mind. It was one of those positive cycles that Dr. Phil talks about. I was getting it every night, so I was happy. When I’m happy, my customers are happy. When my customer are happy, especially at Christmas, they leave an extra dollar. Maybe two. Eventually, I was letting him use my credit card so that he could pay his therapist at the VA. I know how co-pays can add up, and his disability checks only went so far. Maybe that would put me on Santa’s “nice list.” I really wanted that Gucci knockoff.
But, then a friend caught Reginald in a lie. Reginald was using my money to buy drugs in the alley around the corner. OK, so it wasn’t heroin or LSD, but I do watch Dr. Phil. Prescription drug abuse is a serious health issue, even in Hoboken. When I confronted Reginald about it, he denied it. But, my friend had the photos on Instagram to prove it was true. It was a hard choice. Reginald really had stamina. Maybe I should have been more sympathetic. It was Christmas and he was an elf war hero. But, drugs? He crossed the line. I threw his sorry little felt-covered behind out of my house and out of my life. Forever. Naughty or nice, this girl’s got standards.
I wish I could tell you I had a Merry Christmas. Santa didn’t bring the handbag. And, they found Reginald frozen to death on Christmas morning after a night of binge drinking in the park. I’m just a girl from Hoboken but I grew up watching Colombo and Murder She Wrote. Reginald was a Wild Turkey man. He never drank vodka. My roommate says maybe it was Pearl Gambino but I don’t think she’d hold a grudge for 24 years. I think he was killed by the DoD. Because he knew too much about Santa and that ISIS raid on the North Pole. But, you didn’t hear that from me. It’s not pretty when elves go bad, girls. So, think twice about taking an elf home, even if he pays for the drinks.
Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blog www.PotatoNationUSA.com. She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.