jeudi, décembre 15, 2005



Yes, I am still at work on this thing. Poke around if you must, but there remains much of the story to be told. Life keeps intruding on my writing time... and today I learn some of our Christmas cards have already arrived in the 'States. Cripes!

I hope to have everything done by the 20th. Maybe of December. Maybe December 2005.

As a child, I was especially fixated on one aspect of the Santa Claus story: how did he manage to get to all those kids in just one night? And as it was explained to me, Santa was not even allowed the luxury of an entire dusk-to-dawn night for his work: only in the deepest dead of night did the fat man move.

"Does he start at midnight?" I'd ask.

"Yeah, because he's gotta' go only after all the kids are really asleep," my father answered (why I remember my father, of all people, explaining this to me is anyone's guess--it does prove how early in my life I began obsessing over the control of time). Then he added, "And he's gotta' wait for the final list of who's been good, and who's been bad--he's checking up on you right to the last minute." They never missed a chance to link ethical behavior with Christmas upside.

"Yeah, but, how does he get to everyone in the whole world in one night?"

"Well, he's really fast. The reindeers are all really fast."

"How's he gonna get our presents to us," I asked, suddenly worried. "We don't have a real chimney and fireplace?"

"We'll leave the backdoor open." (This is all true, you skeptics. We did leave the backdoor unlocked for Santa.)

"Yeah, but will he get to us in time? Before Christmas morning? How can he visit all us kids in just one night? Look at all the houses he's gotta' visit just on our street..."

"Well, not all the houses have kids in 'em."

"BUT STILL! What about kids in India?" (I remember worrying about this) "Is he going to visit them, too? All tonight?"

I wanted to go quantum physics with Christmas from an early age.

This was all too much for my father (this, and many other things). I remember an uncle nearby, my Dear Departed Uncle Dave, who was in high school at the time and very science minded. He took over and explained to me how the earth rotates, causing night and day, how different time zones worked (more or less), how it is always night time in one part of the world, and how Santa could essentially keep ahead of the dawn as he made one 24 hour night time sweep of the globe.

That satisfied me for a year.

I realized this still wasn't enough time to hit every child-harboring house, and began forming complicated theories to explain Santa's ability to overcome this problem. I reasoned that the solution had to involve slowing time to a near standstill. Of great help in this formulation was an episode of The Wild, Wild West, the one in which Artemus and Jim West go undercover to work for an evil inventor who had devised a potion that allowed any imbiber to enter a world of super-speed; which, counter-intuitively, slowed everything else down. Just like quantum physics. Those endowed with super-speed could move about normally, but everyone and everything around them was frozen (just think of the CGI excesses that premise would invite in a movie/TV show of today--back then we had Robert Conrad trying to walk in slow-motion [when the potion began to wear off!], while all the extras had to stand stone-still and unsmiling as he did his best "mime-in-a-windstorm"). They utilize this alternate reality of quantum-time to walk into a museum and steal a large diamond. The real creative twist to all this occurs when evil inventor gets hip to Artemus and Jim's undercover roles, and shorts their super-speed dosages, which brings them back to real time during the middle of the heist, leaving them to get caught "red-handed"--literally red-handed, because in the transition out of speed-of-light living back to regular-speed reality, Arty and Jim both endure friction burns on their dermis because of the extraordinary heat generated by their "re-entry" to real-time. I guess you had to see it.

But it affected me profoundly.

Time compression, I used to stew, how does Santa manage to compress time? I decided that since he was a Saint and hence an agent of the Lord, God allowed him to slip the bonds of mortal time. But what was it like? If he was making his voyage in a blink of an eye, how could we hope to interact with him? And how could he really interact with us while outside the space-time continuum we lived in?

I decided it was like in The Wild, Wild West, and that Santa was able to move down the chimney (a physical paradox that didn't trouble me) and plant the presents and eat the cookies and drink the milk and then get back up on the roof and into the sleigh in an instant. I remember sneaking into the living room to watch the plate of cookies and wait for their disappearance. For their literal disappearance. Other kids stayed up expecting to see the Fat Man. I was expecting something more like physical proof of Einstein's theory.

The thought that Santa existed in an essentially separate dimension left me a little melancholy. While the Christmas parties were roaring, I would happily sing along about the jolly little man in a miniature sleigh; but once alone and in bed, these anthems took on the wistful tone of eternal separation, much closer to David Bowie's "Space Oddity;" Santa as a yuletide Major Tom, eternally circling a world he could no longer join. I would scan the skies as we drove home from Christmas Eve services or, more likely, Christmas Eve dinner at Aunt Judy's, and feel a shadow descend as I watched for him. I expected only to see a streak, like a shooting star, ("It has to be that way," I would tell myself). The sense of separation generated by the thought of a sighting mirrored very much the sort of personal space-time displasia that would occur if you looked into a backyard telescope and caught sight of the Space Shuttle miles overhead, looking like a tiny pale trident thrown across the wintry sky. How can he be up there, so far away and moving so fast, I wondered, while I'm down here, waiting for him?

Santa, please share with me your magic time-compression formula!


At samedi, décembre 17, 2005, Blogger Me said...

May Peace
Hope and Love
be with you
and Always

Merry Christmas!
The Surging Waves


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