It was Friday afternoon and Sandy stood on the 125th subway platform with her daughter, Laila. Â Â They were heading downtown; it was her ex-husband’s weekend with his daughter. Â Â Sandy’s mind was elsewhere. Â She was hoping to have a date tonight with the good-looking marketing executive she met on Tinder, but he had yet to return her text.
“How does Santa Claus get into our apartment building. We don’t have a chimney?” asked Laila.
Laila had been obsessing about the truth behind Santa Claus ever since she observed the one from the department store Santa Â entering the men’s room behind the kitchen appliance section in Macy’s.
“In New York City, Santa Claus brings the toys in through the window. Â He also has the key to every apartment.” her mother answered.
Normally Sandy hated to bring her daughter over to Luke’s apartment, she disapproved of his new girlfriend, Ellie, a twenty-eight year old Hungarian graduate student Â with excessive cleavage. Â Â This weekend, Sandy was glad for the time alone. Â She could use her time to watch Hallmark movies in her underwear. Even if the Tinder guy didn’t get back to her this weekend, it will be enough to have the quiet in the apartment.
“And I always have my vibrator” she thought, a gift she bought for herself last Christmas.
Laila was still thinking about Santa Claus.
“So, Santa Claus flies into every single window in New York City? That would take him all night. And, uh, where does he park the reindeer?”
“He just does it. He’s Santa Claus.”
“Let’s get real. There is no Santa Claus, is there?” Laila asked, clicking her tongue.
Sandy’s heart skipped a beat. Her daughter was too young to reject the magic of childhood. Sandy felt like a failure as a mother, the type of parent to be scorned on the internet.
“Of course there’s a Santa Claus,” said Sandy. “I mean it’s not the guy at Macy’s. That is just an actor. But the real Santa Claus is out there, with his white beard, living in the North Pole. coming on Christmas to make children happy.”
“Mom, I think I need a second opinion.”
Laila saw an older black man sitting on the bench under the poster for the new Supergirl TV show. Â He was reading the New York Times, about the latest terrorist attack in Europe.
“Excuse me, sir,” said Laila, and the man looked up from his newspaper.
“Yes?” he asked, glancing over at Sandy for her permission to talk to he daughter.
“Could you tell me if there is really a Santa Claus?” asked Laila
“Ah, Santa Claus,” said the man on the bench, crossing his legs. Â “Are you having your doubts about Santa Claus?”
“Yes. My mother said there is a real Santa Claus. What do you think?”
“Hell no. It’s all made up nonsense. There is no Santa Claus. Only little children believe in that stuff.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Laila.
“I’m glad to help.” said the man.
Laila returned to her mother, who was checking Tinder.
“Did your date get back to you?” Laila asked her mother.
“Nah, he’s a loser.”
“Yeah. Â Maybe this dating site is not the best place for you.”
“You’re right,” Sandy sighed. It’s so superficial. I’ll try Match.com next.”
“Good idea,” said Laila, caressing her mother’s arm.
“So, did you get your second opinion?” asked Sandy. Â “What did the man have to say ?”
“He said that there IS a real Santa Claus who lives in the North Pole and flies out with his reindeer on Christmas to make children happy.”
“I told you!” said Sandy, relieved.
Laila is wise beyond her years.
Hip kid. I like this one a lot.
Flying reindeer and imaginary men and Tinder. Yup, all goes together.