Pawn Shop Santa


A young Tico in the snow with no pirate sweater on.

…yeah, just what you wanted in the middle of June…but this popped up somewhere in my email as I was deleting stuff. It’s old and out of season but I knew that at least Connie would enjoy…


The other day, I was driving in the car, doing some errands.  With me was – Dash, our mild-mannered Golden Retriever and Tico, our Long-haired Dachshund who has a possible Edward G. Robinson / Napoleonic Complex. Both love to ride in the back of the car and stare out at all of the wonders of the world as they pass by.

It was quite chilly. Tico had on his new, black Skull & Crossbones dog sweater. I wanted to buy him something red & green with reindeer on it but he insisted on the black one. He didn’t like it at first but as soon as he figured out it was functional, he doesn’t like to part with it at all. It is wool and has sort of a semi-turtleneck / crew neck.  When there are girl dogs around, he  likes to pull the turtleneck up high so he looks like a secret agent. Chicks love it…

So, we’re driving by the industrial / used car section of Roswell Road and I spot a tall, lanky, black guy dressed as Santa Claus standing by the curb in front of a pawn shop. He’s holding  a large sign that reads, “We Buy Gold & Silver”.  He’s very animated in his movements as he flashes the sign around and waves at people driving by.

I notice the traffic light at the intersection has turned to a shade of red almost as bright as Santa’s hoodie. As the cars in front of me stop, I realize we will be waiting next to Santa Claus. Great, I think, I am not exactly crazy about hanging out with clowns and stuffed Disney characters and I never wave at those Statue of Liberty guys either.  Pawn Shop Santa is no exception…

The car came to a stop and I could see Santa waving to me out of the corner of my eye as I looked straight ahead pretending to be deep in thought about the dangers of text messaging while driving. I ran out of things to look at and glanced over at Santa:

I couldn’t help but smile. I mean it was a really big smile that came from somewhere way down in my gut.  I returned a rotating wrist, parade wave that politicians are famous for; Pawn Shop Santa gave a warm smile back.  I motioned to the back of the car with my thumb while I said, “Look Dash!”

Dash knows this command well and he came up like a submarine periscope and immediately looked for the targeted subject. He spotted the strange man in the red clothes and the long white beard and sat there quietly watching as the man waved frantically at the dogs and belted out jolly laughter.  Despite smiling, friendly noises coming out of this strange creature in red, Tico does not like any strangers giving him direct eye contact; he began to bark with a vengeance.

Santa Claus belted out deeper laughs but I could tell he was taking Tico’s rejection of his performance personally. I turned around in my seat to calm the dogs down. As I looked towards Tico, all I could see was a blurred skull & crossbones with flashing white teeth and spraying saliva on the right rear window. Beyond and outside were the out of focus, waving, red arms of Pawn Shop Santa. The amazing sight was a very quiet Dash sitting there with a huge smile on his face thinking that he had just made a new friend…

Though the passenger side window was up, PS Santa & I were able to communicate non-verbally. He gestured a question asking if Tico was barking at him or the fact that he had on a strange white beard; I gestured back a reply saying that yes, it was indeed the beard.

He smiled triumphantly and waved me a thumbs up as he stood back up from his leaning-over-to-see-the-dogs crouch.

The light turned green.  I slowly drove off. Tico’s barks subsided to an occasional grunt and I looked in the mirror and saw Dash had turned his head to watch Pawn Shop Santa fade away. He still had a big smile on his face.  Dash that is…

Tico made eye contact with me and made a loud sneeze while he shook his small body as if to dust off after a particularly gnarly fight.  His look told me that we were no longer in any danger.  He calmly turned his attention to the window and resumed watching the big world go by.

I, too, still had a big smile on my face and I believe it lasted all the way home.

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