Guest blogger Neal Pollack has been a satirist (Vanity Fair), a sexologist (Nerve.com), and a cultural anthropologist (McSweeney's). Here, Pollack will explore all the wild, weird, and noteworthy stories you may have missed.
We've reached the apex of Wacky Santa Story season. Every year at this time, local newspapers abound with irony. There's "drunk Santa," "disgruntled Santa," "sex offender Santa." We all saw We all saw Lauren Graham kissing (among other things) Santa Claus in the Billy Bob Thornton movie, people. We're not surprised.
This year, the deviant Santa plotline has taken a backseat to a strange new trope: "Unhealthily Fat Santa." A few weeks ago, an Australian epidemiologist published a study in a British medical journal claiming that "there is a correlation between countries that venerate Santa Claus and those that have high levels of childhood obesity." This caused a flurry of quasi-hysterical media coverage in fat countries, though the study has since been revealed as a prank. Perhaps the paragraph criticizing Santa for not wearing a seatbelt should have been a tipoff.
But in the U.S., yet again, truth has proven stranger than hoax. According to The Washington Post, an actual association of volunteer Santas is pushing to reduce the "size of Santa by 25 percent." Like the American population at large, one-third of Santas are medically obese, and another third are overweight. Says a Georgia-based Kris Kringle impersonator: "Santa has diabetes, he has bad arteries and high blood pressure and high cholesterol—and, in my case, he has heart failure. I had a stroke and ended up with the inability to talk and the inability to think.: Apparently, Santa needs to lay off the breaded pork tenderloins.
Of course, there's always a chance the Post story is a hoax as well. It's written by someone named "J. Freedom DuLac," hardly a real name for a person. Also, how could something like The Amalgamated Order Of Real Bearded Santas, "the nation's premier fraternity of A-list Santas," actually exist? Then again, the President of AORBS does claim to be 5'10" and 270 lbs, and says that several of his members tip the scales at more than 400 pounds. All you need to do is walk out the door to verify that those dimensions are possible in a living human.
So if someone gets stuck in your chimney on Christmas Eve, know that it's Santa, as fat as ever. Or possibly a reporter seeking a trend story about people getting stuck in chimneys.