Rudolph

By Josh Dugan 
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I still haven't found the DVD.

It was playing on the big-screen TV at the warehouse shopping club as the throngs of families herded by with their huge plastic shopping carts. They call them $200 carts because by making them so big, they can pretty much guarantee that customers will fill them with at least $200 worth of products.

Anyway, it was around the holidays, and the place was a madhouse. I never watch the big-screen TVs in the warehouse shopping clubs because you can't really hear over all the noise, and I'm never in the market for a big-screen TV. Usually they are running a cartoon or some DVD movie, or some programming from whatever dish satellite company is occupying the sales kiosk.

It wasn't much of anything of a program, and I didn't give it much more than a passing glance as I pushed my $200 shopping cart past. Some kind of musical about the reindeer that gets to guide Santa's sleigh. It was a stylized studio production, shot on a white background, with simple little props for trees, for Santa's house in the background, and for the North Pole. It looked too stupid to watch; it was a bunch of guy dancers dressed in cheap reindeer semi-costumes, with little velvet reindeer antler hats, dancing to the childish soundtrack and dissing poor Rudolph by never letting him join their reindeer games.

But a few aisles later I felt my brow crease, and I turned around and pushed my cart back to the big-screen TV. I just wanted to check to see if I had seen it correctly, because I thought I remembered something odd about the program.

There it was, nobody watching, as the heavy tide of shoppers oozed and ebbed slowly by.

How had they done this? The reindeer costumes were fourlegged, like brown velvet, with little reindeer tails over the hind legs of the dancing reindeer. There was Dasher and Dancer and Donner and Blitzen and all the rest of them, rather mincingly played by the professional dancers.

The brown velvet costumes covered their legs only, with suspenders holding the costumes in place over the dancers' bare chests; only their velvet antler-caps and little upturned deer-tails identified them as reindeer.

Somehow they'd made them a bit more authentic by being fourlegged. They were barefoot as dancers often are. The effect was mildly centaurlike, with the bare arms and torsos, and the four brown-velvet-clad legs amd four bare fet, with only the antlers and reindeer tails signalling that they were reindeer.

I tried not to look too obviously interested in the program as I didn't want someone to offer to sign me up to buy a big-screen, but I couldn't keep from watching.

There were all the four-legged reindeer lads having a game of volleyball, one of their reindeer games, laughing and spiking the ball, clapping each other on the shoulders or smacking each other on the hind rump, graceful and fast on their four dancer's feet; the effect was perfect.

And there was poor Rudolph, handsome except for the ridiculous electric red bulb he wore over his nose, held in place by a string that went around behind his head, like the string under his chin that held his antlers on, standing watching, one hand holding the opposite forearm, disconsolate on his four bare feet.

Well, how had they done that? The smug group of handsome reindeer dancers pranced and ran four-legged as they played their game of volleyball to the exclusion of Rudolph. Rudolph's four bare feet carried him away in slow dejection, when all of a sudden, Santa came rushing out of his cheap prop house with the bright idea of letting Rudolph's red nose guide the sleigh.

And then all the other barefoot four-legged reindeer dancers dropped their game and came running around Rudolph and Santa, and picked Rudolph up and carried him around on their shoulders, his four legs comfortably seated on the shoulders of four smiling, cheering reindeer as the rest clapped and danced four-legged rings around him. How had they made the four feet so real? They moved perfectly and were muscular and perfectly proportioned.

And then a store employee tried to interest me in the big-screen TV, much to my annoyance. I pretended to be interested in its features, mainly to be able to watch the rest of the program, but to no avail.

I tried to watch past as the employee showed me the remote unit and the pop-open control panel below the big screen. All the fourlegged reindeer dancers were harnessing themselves to the sleigh in red and green sequined harnesses and Rudolph, red nose brightly lighting the way, began to them all galloping four-footed into the winter sky. Just at that moment, the store employee changed the channel before Santa could get out his first Ho Ho Ho.

And could we find the program again? That would have been too easy.

“You can probably get it on DVD,” the employee said, a little put off by my interest in the program, as the employee went on about the unit's many features.

I still haven't found the DVD.


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