A Case of Mistaken Identity

“Good morning Moshe, have I got a story for you,” Mordechai bellowed.
Moshe upon hearing Mordechai’s voice, put down his scooped, double toasted, smeared with cream cheese and covered with Nova, poppy seed bagel.
Then he rolled his eyes, nodded his head and said, “Mordechai, I can’t wait to hear another one of you fascinating stories. I’m all ears. But let me have one more sip of my coffee before you start.”
Without waiting, Mordechai jumped right into his tale.
“Well, a few days ago, I’m in the Broward Mall. I’m resting my feet, sitting on one of those black leather massage chairs, when a mother and her five-year-old son walk by me.
This mom is about 35. She’s a tad over five feet nine inches tall. She’s kinda skinny, wearing this red and white calico halter top which exposes her nice rack. And she’s kinda sexy in her tight fitting blue jeans.
“Mordechai, thanks for that explicate description. You do know how to tell a story. And now you got my full attention.”
“Moshe, thanks. And now that your listening, here’s what the kid wore: a Christmassy looking, red and white Old Navy tee shirt, blue jeans and a pair of navy Skechers
Now ya gotta understand, it’s around ten in morning. The mall has just opened. It’s kinda quiet and empty except for a few fast walkers or slow joggers making their rounds. So I could hear every word that kid, and his hot mother said.
But before I go on, I gotta to tell you, that that kid gave me sucha stare.”
“What do you mean by sucha stare?” Moshe asked.
“Well it was a long and a deep stare. It freaked me out. It kinda made me feel uncomfortable. So I averted the kid’s eyes.
But the kid acted like he kinda knew me. Like he wanted to wave or hug me.
Then he locked eyes with his mom, pointed his index finger straight at my head and said “Mom, did you know that Santa shaved off his beard?”
His mother reddened, pulled his arm, and whispered “Billy, please lower your voice. You’re being rude again.”
“But Mom, will it grow back by Christmas?”
The Mom glanced at me and then shot her kid the look.
“What look?” Moshe asked.
“The shut-up-or-I’m-going-to-slap-you-across-your-face look,” Mordechai replied.
But Billy doesn’t budge nor stop talking.
“Mom, he looks sick. Did Santa get a bad case of COVID?”
Now the mother pulled a little harder.
“Billy, let’s go to the food court. I’ll buy you one of those hot, buttery, salted Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels. Those pretzels that melt in your mouth.”
But Billy’s brain rested on Santa.
“Mom, Santa looks so disheveled. Do you think Mrs. Claus left him or died of a stroke or cancer or a heart attack?”
“No Billy, she’s doing just fine. I bet right now, she’s cleaning their home in the North Pole. You know, she’s vacuuming, doing the dishes and the laundry.”
I wondered, “What five year old says, ‘disheveled’ and still believes in Santa Claus?”
Boychick, that’s a real good question. But I have one for you. Did you even open your mouth to that precocious kid? Did you at least say, ‘Sorry kid, I’m not Santa Claus,” Moshe queried.
“I did better than that. I said, ‘Billy, I’m okay and so is Mrs. Claus. My beard will grow back by Christmas and I’m here in the Broward Mall doing my Chanukah shopping.”
Billy’s mom went silent. But she shot me that stare.
“What stare is that?” Moshe asked.
The I-don’t-appreciate-you-messing-with-my-kid’s-head stare,” Mordechai replied.
And I watched as the mom yanked Billy’s arm so hard that he yelped.
And as they walked away, I heard Billy say one last thing, “Mom, I didn’t know Santa Claus was Jewish?”
Moshe picked up his scooped, double toasted, smeared with cream cheese and covered with Nova, poppy seed bagel and before he took a bite said, “Good one Mordechai. A real good one.”
About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. ChatGPT says, Mort is known for his works that often explore themes of love, loss, and the human connection. Laitner has published several books , including “A Hebraic Obsession.” His writing style is characterized by its emotional depth and introspection. Laitner’s works have garnered praise for their heartfelt expression and keen insight into the human experience.
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