So what if he had a red nose


Okay. So, I detest the gooey crooning of Christmas carols as much as any surly, poorly-adjusted adult with an ACEs score of four or better. They drive me squirrel turds. Not only are they the worst kind of earworm to catch because they are nearly indestructible once they’ve taken hold, but beyond that, they are annoying because they are not challenging in the least. We’ve all known every word to every carol since we were forced as children to dress up as elves and perform them in front of every parent in our cohort during the annual Christmas Pageant of Doom ™ from grades 2 through 9. There is not one iota of novel stimuli in a Christmas carol, which is why they send my mind directly to the corner where it curls into the fetal position and weeps softly to itself until the horror has abated.

I think that “Baby It’s Cold Outside” – a musical version of date rape, in my absolutely not humble in any way shape or form opinion – may be the most disturbing carol known to womankind. And no, I am not even slightly sorry if I just ruined that song for you. You had it coming. I did you a service.

You are welcome.

But the one that really makes me jump salty is Rudolph.

You guys recognize that “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is the official theme song of relational aggression, right?

Like, y’all see this, right?

Okay, well you do now.

Don’t believe me? Don’t want to believe me?

Alrighty, then. As my spunky eighth-grade math teacher used to say of the linear equations that I’m not ashamed to admit I’m still incapable of solving without a significant amount of tears and at least two glasses of wine under my belt (sorry, Mrs. Baxter… I know you tried), “let’s break this baby on down.”

So Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was born with a birth defect. Clearly. A mutation in the arrangement of nucleotide DNA pairs resulting in the atypical expression of nose-specific genes. No big deal, but instead of black and leathery, Rudolph’s snot locker came out red, bulbous, and apparently radioactive. I mean, nobody’s done the post-mortem on that snout yet, but I’m pretty confident in my “irradiated” hypothesis. Because no body part glows organically without also being able to trigger a hit on a Geiger counter. Not even in mythical creatures.

Them’s just facts.

Now. Rudolph’s non-traditional nasal situation in no way affects his ability to be a reindeer without accommodations. He’s not entitled to priority parking. He’s not eligible for reindeer SSDI. He will not be receiving an IEP or a 504 plan. He’s just a regular old reindeer. With a super unique nose. He can run, frolic, dance, and fly just like all of the other reindeer. I mean, it takes him a little longer to demonstrate his developmental milestone achievements, due to the amount of verbal and emotional abuse he receives from his peers and, if we consider the 1964 stop-motion animated special to be canon – which we obviously do – from his father. It’s easy to understand why he experiences bouts of insecurity in his own self-efficacy, which cause him to question his ability to perform at or above average on a bell curve distribution of any given age-appropriate reindeer task.

Okay. So if all the other reindeer who laugh and call him names can be seen as a school-aged cohort, we can assume that the adult reindeer are basically middle management (or teachers) which means that Santa must be the principal. Which makes him the one to whom the adult reindeer would report behavioral issues and defer in terms of appropriate responses, yes? Also, the one who’s got some ‘splainin’ to do when the superintendent (which is me, apparently, since no one else seems to want to take up this worthy inquisition and I don’t have anything else going on in my life) starts asking questions.

So. He must be at least tangentially aware of Rudolph’s precarious social predicament. I mean, the song implies that he’s at least occasionally in physical contact with the herd throughout the year. So even if no one has seen fit to mention the fact that Rudolph is chronically bullied to the point that it’s affecting his performance on standardized reindeer tests, wouldn’t Santa have had ample opportunity to observe that the one exception to typical reindeer body type is being relentlessly disenfranchised by the other reindeer youth in his cohort? And, if Santa had, in fact, failed to notice, why wouldn’t Mr. and Mrs. Donner take the issue to a board meeting, or even try reaching out to the parents of the other little jagoff reindeer who think their stupid basic noses are so stinkin’ great?

I’m not saying that these obvious warning signs of potential emotional neglect constitute a reportable issue within Rudolph’s family unit, but I am saying that I would not be much surprised if Rudolph grows up to have an ACEs score of four or better too. Or at least a significant anxiety/repressed anger issue. Just, you know. From the available data and my ability to extrapolate.

In any case, suddenly, one foggy and auspicious Christmas Eve, according to the awful dirge of Rudolph’s tragic existence, a pragmatic and remarkable use for his deviation from typical gene expression presents itself. For the first time ever — gasp — there is fog. I won’t speculate as to why the necessary conditions for such a common meteorological event never combined to produce fog before this day, because I am at best a social scientist, and not anything that even remotely resembles a real scientist. But it’s for sure a legitimate inquiry which warrants further investigation, if you ask me.

Which you didn’t.

Which is irrelevant, as our history as writer and audience proves beyond any shadow of a doubt.

It doesn’t even matter, though, because the fact remains that, suddenly, Rudolph’s horrifying disfigurement is transformed into a blessed Festivus-level miracle, you guys! Rudolph, the long-suffering outcast of an entire generation of fabled, tundra-dwelling ruminants, now finds himself in the unique position to be the shining hero of his people and the champion of all “good” children who will, without his altruistic contribution to the redemption of the imperiled holiday, not get their reinforcements for a year’s worth of good behavior (see last weeks column for a critical evaluation of the ongoing naughty/nice debate).

And congratulations on hanging in there, you guys. We made it. This is where all of my expository conjecture finally comes to a point.

Without ever even acknowledging that they had been allowing and/or directly participating in Rudolph’s systematic emotional subjugation, the other reindeer and even Santa himself don’t just ask him if he could please maybe consider using his remarkable gift to save the day.

They straight up expect to be delivered from ruin by the selfless effort of their collective scapegoat without so much as acknowledging, let alone apologizing for, the blinding emotional pain they’d spent his most vulnerable and formative years relentlessly inflicting.

Well. How do you like them apples?

I, for one, find them bitter, mealy, and full of worms.

And I think that, if I were Rudolph, I’d tell those jerks to go…

Oh, who am I kidding?

My entire social history up to this point clearly indicates that I’d happily guide the stupid freaking sleigh because, like Rudolph, I have an all-consuming need for approval even if it comes at the cost of slaughtering my own self-respect, the existence of which was questionable at best to begin with.

I mean, it’s an issue.

I’m working on it.

Okay. You know what? Don’t even look at me like that, Karen.

Knock it off.

You have a crack in your hiney just like everybody else. And the whole world knows it. So.