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  • OKIE IN EXILE: Bubba becomes an elf

  • I got a call the other day from my old friend Bubba back home.  It’d been several months since we’d spoken.  The last time he had been in the hospital. After that, I’d gotten busy and hadn’t kept in touch.  I’d been planning to call him over my Christmas break, but he beat me to it.

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  • I got a call the other day from my old friend Bubba back home. It’d been several months since we’d spoken. The last time he had been in the hospital. After that, I’d gotten busy and hadn’t kept in touch. I’d been planning to call him over my Christmas break, but he beat me to it.
    I answered the phone without looking at the caller ID and said, “Hello.” Then I heard his reply.
    “Are you at yourself?”
    This is not a question I’ve heard anyone from Kansas, so I might need to explain it. There are times when we are out of sorts, when our thoughts aren’t gathered, and when we just generally aren’t good company. In short, when we just aren’t ‘at’ ourselves. I took a moment to think it over before I replied.
    “Yes,” I said. “Yes, I believe I am. How’s it going with you? I am sorry I haven’t called after your surgery I’ve been real busy....”
    He cut me off and didn’t let me finish my excuse.
    “I’d figured you had,” he said. “Anyway, I’ve been too busy to talk myself. After my surgery, I got a new lease on life. I’ve been following up on opportunities I’d let slide. I’ve become involved in things.”
    “Well, I am so glad to hear you...” I began, but I was cut off.
    “Let me finish,” he said. “It is just so rude of you to start talking before a fellow is finished.”
    Somewhat abashed, I let him continue.
    “You might remember a few years back we had an incident with Santa Claus in these parts,” he said.
    It took only a moment for me to recall. It was, as they say, a mess. Santa had taken a stop on US Highway 377 to take a bit of peppermint schnapps to ward off the chill. At that time, he’d been fallen upon by local youths who’d been spotlighting deer. They’d slaughtered the reindeer with Rudolph being the only survivor.
    Santa had then stumbled into a local Pentecostal religious service with schnapps on his breath and had been turned-in to local authorities. He’d had to do community service to pay his debt to society.
    In the meantime, Rudolph was running amok among the local does and, to hear Bubba tell it, Rudolph’s progeny were so thick on the ground down in that neck of the woods some of the trees looked like they were lit up with Christmas lights because of the red-nosed reindeer roosting in them.
    So, yeah, I did remember the incident. At least I remembered the story he told. All of this flashed through my mind in a fraction of a second, but Bubba continued.
    Page 2 of 3 - “During that time, I learned all about the reindeer,” he said. “I think I told you they are a military caste.
    They eventually captured all of the youths who’d killed Santa’s flying team that night. One by one, they rounded them up; I won’t tell you what they did to them, but I will tell you this: I’ll never eat pork rinds again!”
    “Hold up a minute,” I said, feeling just a little queasy. I’ve always been fond of pork rinds, and my imagination was going some bad places. “You were talking about your new lease on life?”
    He paused for just a second, kind of bumfuzzled having his train of thought derailed for a change, but then he gathered his wits.
    “Oh, yeah,” he said. “I’ve become an elf.”
    “What?!” I said. This was a bit of a whopper even by Bubba’s standards. “You are six feet tall, Bubba, and you weigh...”
    “Whoa there, pardner!
    “...weigh way too much and are way too big to be an elf. Good grief!”
    Sometimes folks in Bubba’s neck of the woods will just spin out whoppers in an experiment. It’s called “how much can we get them to listen to before they call us on it.”
    “Now, now,” Bubba said. “Don’t tell me that you’ve bought into the image created for us by the media. Surely you’ve seen Lord of the Rings. Those elfs are pretty good-sized and they look like Orlando Bloom.”
    “Now, Bubba,” I said, “you might get me to believe in flying red-nosed reindeer, but you’ll never get me to believe you look like Orlando Bloom.”
    Bubba didn’t miss a beat.
    “That’s profiling,” he said, “and profiling is wrong. Anyway, it’s not like that. Being one of Santa’s elves isn’t something you are born into. It’s something you are accepted into. Because of the help I’ve given Santa over the years, they adopted me as one of their own. There was a little ceremony. They strip you naked and beat you with holly branches. Then they make you run in the snow. Then they stand you under the sacred mistletoe to close the ceremony. They like Oklahoma, by the way, because mistletoe is our state floral emblem. Don’t bring up the thing about it being a parasite when you are around them, because they don’t like it.
    “Anyway, they stand you under the sacred mistletoe, put a rum-soaked piece of fruitcake in your hand, and set it on fire. They think it’s as funny as all get-out that some folks eat fruitcake, by the way. Elves designed it to be burned in this very ceremony. After the cake had finish burning, they gave me some eggnog to sooth the pain, and I was declared an elf.”
    Page 3 of 3 - I was silent for a moment. It sounded to me like a lot of eggnog had been involved in this story and that he must think I’d been drinking a lot of it on my end of the phone if he expected me to believe this. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of calling him out on it, though. Rather, I took another tack.
    “So what are you going to do now that you are an elf?” I asked. “Will you spend your time up at the North Pole making dolls and wrapping presents?”
    “There you go, profiling again,” he said, sounding annoyed.
    “There’s a lot more to the operation than just making gifts. As you may have heard, Santa keeps track of who’s naughty and who’s nice. We do this electronically now. We get the naughtiness on video. The elves use it to extract funds from some of the really naughty ones. They are a lot more afraid of the video turning up on YouTube than they are getting coal in their stockings. I help with this. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Washington, DC these days...”
    Finally, I’d had it.
    “Sorry, Bubba,” I said. “I need a little eggnog.”
    “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want on YouTube,” he said.
    “Good-bye, Bubba.”
    Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. You may contact him at okieinexile@gmail.com.

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