You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry, You Better Not Pout, I’m Telling You Why

Four years ago, Green M&M and I went to Los Angeles to spend New Years.  The trip was a lot of fun…  Well up until the end when we were in a serious car accident on the way home from the airport after the trip, but that’s another story.

As I said, most of the trip was actually pretty good.  We took in a lot of sites and had a lot of good meals.  On one of those occasions we went to The Beverly Center to have a meal and do a little shopping, or so we thought.  There is a restaurant of sorts in the center court of the shopping center where Green M&M and I went for lunch.  It was the only time in my life that I felt, without any one saying or doing anything to me, like I was not supposed to be there.  Every one, and I do mean EVERYONE in Beverly Hills is rich, beautiful, and thin.  Green and I both felt fatter than usual (we’re both over-weight) and tragically unhip.  I was surprised and disappointed that The Beverly Center and all the people in it truly lived up to the hype of Beverly Hills.

So you can imagine how not surprised I was to see this yesterday:

Hunky Santa at the mall is sooooo L.A.

Instead of a bowl full of jelly, shoppers drink in St. Nick’s six-pack abs
By Laura T. Coffey

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why: Santa Claus has abs of steel.

Or at least this one does.

hunky-santa

Image: Hunky Santa Hunky Santa — played by Eli Wilhide, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound 31-year-old who has appeared on “CSI: Miami” — is wowing crowds at a Los Angeles mall this year.

Leave it to Los Angeles to concoct a wild plot twist involving the role of the traditional mall Santa. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings throughout the holiday season, Hunky Santa and the Candy Cane Girls dance and delight throngs of shoppers at the Beverly Center mall. (The standard jolly and rotund Kris Kringle appears at the mall during the week and midday on weekends.)

A big bonus for the big kids who flock to see Hunky Santa: Hopping onto Hunky’s lap and telling him what they want for Christmas.

The advice doesn’t stop there, though. Hunky Santa — played by Eli Wilhide, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound 31-year-old who has appeared on “CSI: Miami” — takes the time to dispense tips on nutrition and exercise, share gift ideas for guys who don’t know what to get their girlfriends or wives, and give all-around guidance about how to stay upbeat and healthy over the hectic holiday season.

“If I can make somebody feel better about what they put in their body and help them live longer and have more energy, that’s great,” Hunky told the Los Angeles Times.

Those biceps are no accident
Hunky also told the Times that he religiously exercises every morning — “I like a fresh, healthy glow before work” — and he shed some light on the kind of diet it takes to maintain a physique like that:

“Right after I work out, I try to have something right away, usually a protein shake with whey protein, and a piece of fruit. I try to eat every two to three hours, and my staple meal is chicken and broccoli. When I know I have to go somewhere, I’ll put some oatmeal with protein powder and berries in a container with an ice pack and snack on that. Basically, I try to eat a lean meat source and vegetables and brown rice — six small meals a day.”

So where did the mall find this guy? The process wasn’t easy. The Beverly Center has been featuring a Hunky Santa for several years now, but this year mall officials conducted what they described as “an exhaustive two-month search” for the perfect specimen. After analyzing the credentials and muscle mass of more than 350 applicants, they knew they had found their man in Wilhide.

‘Illegally gorgeous’
A kinesiology and nutrition major at the University of Maryland, Wilhide worked as a motivational speaker alongside inspirational life coach Tony Robbins for more than three years. These days he’s pursuing a career in acting. In addition to “CSI: Miami,” Wilhide has appeared on Disney’s “The Suite Life on Deck.” He told the Times that he recently read a script for “Days of Our Lives.”

While he waits to hit it big in the acting world, Wilhide is getting lots of love from lots of fans in his role as Hunky Santa. He wears red velvet pants, black shiny boots, a red velvet hat and a fur-trimmed coat that’s open and sleeveless. What better way to flaunt those muscles?

He’s “gorgeous,” said one woman who recently posed for a photo on his lap. “Illegally gorgeous.”

So on this fateful trip to Los Angeles, we stayed at the Bonaventure Hotel in Downtown LA.  This hotel has appeared in numerous movies, most notable in my mind being Nick of Time.  Now you’d think that a hotel that is so commonly shown in movies would be a pretty great place to stay.  Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.  First of all the hotel charges guests for parking, and they charge a lot, which since it’s located in downtown LA is a racket.  You have to rent a car if you intend to get around at all.  Secondly the hotel doesn’t look like it’s been renovated in twenty years.  All the fixtures and appointments in the main lobby look like they were original to the construction of the building.

One of the trade marks of a Bonaventure hotel is the glass elevators that run on the outside of the building.  I’m sure this makes a lot of people happy and they enjoy the views of the surrounding area (though in downtown Los Angeles there’s not much to look at besides the buildings next to it) I on the other hand do not love the glass elevators.  Nor do I like the looks I get from the people when the elevator stops on a floor and they’re trying to get through the amply sized doors, while I’m standing next to the doors.  I don’t know what I thought it was going to benefit me to be right next to the doors if the elevator plummeted off the side of the building, but I felt safer there and in my mind anyway, the floor felt a little thicker and more stable under my feet there by the door, as opposed to be the windows.  I didn’t really care about the looks I was getting, I was NOT going to move!

We checked into the hotel on December 29th and got a room only a few floors down from the top.  As we went to our elevator bank we noticed that one of the elevators was out of service.  There are three per tower.  We got up to our floor and found our room.  Boy was that a surprise.  The rooms you see in the movies are, of course, usually suites, but you think you get an idea of the hotels based on what you see.  In this case I was grossly mistaken.  The room was smaller than small.  The beds were tiny, they were “full” beds but they were shorter than usual to fit in the room.  I’m 6’1″ and when I laid out flat on the bed my legs were halfway to my knees sticking off the foot of the bed.

On New Year’s Eve when we were heading out to dinner, we had to wait for what seemed an eternity in the elevator lobby waiting for the elevator to come and get us.  When it finally did, it was crammed full.  I did NOT want to get in this fully loaded glass elevator but we’d been waiting for a very long time so I figured I’d take my chances.  If it was my time to die, it was my time to die.  As the elevator was going down, more and more people got on board.  Finally, it stopped on the 10th floor and as the doors were closing after more people packed on, the elevator dropped a few feet without warning.  Fortunately, that was the last time it stopped until we reached the ground floor and I could not get off that elevator fast enough, let alone find a bar fast enough.  After I got up from the floor where I was kissing the ground, I noticed that the other two elevators had out of order signs on them.  And, you know, what better time to have two elevators out of service than on New Year’s Eve?

This year we’re going to Las Vegas and we plan to have a excellent time!

Batman’s Beginning

Until now, I’ve always made my closest friends in my workplace.  This goes back as far as I can remember.  Even to my senior year in high school when I worked at the grocery store that was in Scornful Mother‘s back yard.

I met Batman while working as a cashier at Price Mart (since bought out.)  He was a bagger.  He was handsome.  A few inches shorter than I, with sandy blond hair and a tan complexion.  He worked out and it showed.  He always wore the long sleeves of his white button down, oxford shirts rolled up to above his large, hard biceps.  He wore a perpetual, goofy grin on his face and he was completely endearing to everyone who ever met him.   I was instantly enthralled with his good looks and great attitude.

In addition to Batman, my friend who I have referred to on this blog as RNJ also worked at the Price Mart.  At the time, I believed I had feelings for RNJ but she had no interest in me.  The two of us were in choir together in school and had grown a friendship there.  She was, by far your traditional cowgirl with a rebellion just waiting to come out.  For a brief time, we were like the Three Musketeers.

RNJ and Batman flirted back and forth relentlessly while I looked on with despair and desperation.  I wanted to be loved.  I wanted to have a relationship with someone like these two had.  Batman was RNJ‘s prom date.  I went to dinner with the two of them and a platonic date, but because I was under 18 and Scornful Mother wouldn’t give her permission for me to go to Prom I didn’t attend.  (A story for another time)   I spent the entire evening lying on my platonic date’s parents’ bed watching Homefront and waiting for Batman and RNJ to come back and pick us up again.

Not long after graduation, RNJ entered a rebellious phase and she dumped Batman.  He and I had become friends though, or at least I thought so.  Looking back I realized that, at that time at least, Batman was the kind of guy who thought of nothing but you…  while you were in front of him.  But as soon as you left his sight, he promptly forgot about you.  Anyway, we were friends for a time over the summer.  I was out of school and probably held some appeal in that regard.  He was popular, funny, good looking and had no shortage of self confidence.  I really enjoyed being his friend.

One Summer, afternoon while at work, Batman invited me to come over to his house after we both go off work and spend the night.  His parents had this big, beautiful house with a kidney shaped pool in the back yard.  We stayed up half the night talking about all kinds of things, chief among them, RNJ, of course.  Batman deduced that I had feelings for her, and even though I flatly denied it, it seemed clear that there was something to what he was saying.  Certainly I had some affection for her, but there seemed more to the story.

We spent the next morning lying out next to the pool while he told me of all of his sexual escapades, of which there were many.  The part of my brain that was under Scornful Mother‘s programming was, well, scornful, of his behavior.  The larger part of my brain though, was enthralled.  I was impressed with his apparent prowess.  I was jealous of his nerve and adventurousness.  I was envious of his experience.  And I was glad that we were sprawled out on our stomach’s and he couldn’t see what was happening in my swimming trunks thinking about him in the various sexual endeavors he described.  Even then I couldn’t really accept what that might mean.

I decided a the last minute to go off to college in the fall and we didn’t have any interaction for several months and when I returned at the end of the semester, I had a wrecked car to pay for, a job to work full-time and before long a fiance to connect with (another story for another time.)  Batman had his senior year in high school, an untold number of girlfriends and a very emotionally – if not physically – abusive home life to contend with.  (Something I didn’t know about until years later.)  We grew apart during that time.

That October, I took Dead Beat Dad up on an offer to come live with him for a time while I earned money to buy a car and have more freedom and independence for when I got married the following year.  Batman joined the military, almost as soon as he graduated from high school and that seemed to be the end of our relationship.

I stayed at Dead Beat Dad‘s house for nine months, during which time, my fiance took up with my so-called best friend, started going partying at clubs on a regular basis, cheated on me with an unspecified number of men, broke up with me and got engaged to another man.  All this, while I was out of town on a mission we agreed was important to undertake for the betterment of our future together.  Not two weeks after I returned to Oklahoma, she married another man who she left six months later, just to take up with her boss and get pregnant with his child.

I lived in Oklahoma for six months that time before I got promoted to Store Manager and moved away again.  I was gone from The Town Named for Damaged Native American Weaponry for about nine months before I decided I couldn’t continue in my career path and I gave up my position to move back in with Scornful Mother and give school another try.  School never did work out but I’d been thinking about Batman a lot at that point, wondering what ever happened to him and missing our friendship.  So when I returned to TTNFDNAW I looked him up.  I was anxious about calling him.  What if he didn’t want to reconnect with me?  What if he was still cooler than I and didn’t want to have anything to do with me?  What if this person in the phone book, with his name, wasn’t even the same guy?

I sent him a letter saying if he was the same guy and he wanted to reconnect that he should give me a call at Scornful Mother‘s house.  A week later, he called and my heart danced in my chest!  He wanted to get together for lunch the following week.  He was working for an earlier incarnation of The Soul Crushing Telecom Company and invited me to come out for a tour of the site and lunch at a local eatery.  Naturally, I agreed.

I was sitting in the main lobby of the company campus waiting for him to come and greet me when I saw something I couldn’t believe.  Off in the distance I saw something that vaguely represented my friend known as Batman but was more reminiscent of The Penguin.  It turned out that, when Mrs. Batman got pregnant with Bat Baby they decided they were ready to exit Military Service.  Apparently, that was relatively easy for Mrs. Batman to accomplish, but Batman would have to be a bit creative.  Batman immediately stopped exercising and started over eating.  When it came time for his PT (Physical Tests) he was no longer able to pass them, and he was given an honorable discharge.

After filling me in on the years I had missed in his life; his marriage and recent birth of his six week old Bat-daughter, he told me about The Company and how they were always hiring.  He told me about their benefits.  I’ll never forget the moment he pushed his glasses up his nose and told me, “They offer really good Obstetrics coverage.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.  “I’m sure that came in handy for you, but I’d settle for some decent optometry coverage.”

Batman explained to me how they hire through a temp agency and how I should go there and register.  He’d put in a word for me with the hiring manager and get me in for an interview.  The rest of the story is fairly obvious.  I interviewed for a trainee position through the temp agency and was offered the slot.  I wouldn’t be hired permanently by the company till I finished the training program and proved I could handled the job.  I wasn’t concerned.

When I got the call that they were going to bring me in I called Batman to share the good news.  He was excited for me, and very encouraging.  And then he dropped the bomb.  “Unfortunately, I won’t still be there,” he said.  “Mrs. Batman and I are moving to California.”

Batman‘s entire family had moved away, and in fact he’d been renting and living in his parents house that he lived in during high School, the last of his multi-syllabic named clan in town.  Mrs. Batman’s mother lived in Turlock, California and she operated a day care center out of her home.  She’d made an offer to have them move in with her.  Bat-baby would stay in the day care while Batman would go work and Mrs. Batman would go to Dental Hygienist school while they concentrated on paying off their debt so they could buy a house.  I was, of course really disappointed that he was leaving after we’d reconnected, but what could I do.  I offered my support and encouragement and offered any help I could provide.  The week before I started the training program I helped him load a 26′ Penske truck with everything they owned in preparation for their cross half the country trip to Turlock, California. The night before they left town, after I’d helped load the last of their belongings in the truck and left them for the last time, I sobbed in my bed as I thought about what I’d gained and immediately lost again.

By the time I finished training, Batman had gotten hired and was fully established in a position with the same company, but in the San Jose, California office and he e-mailed me to keep in touch.  To keep a long story short, he helped me get my foot in the door with The Soul Crushing Telecom Company in the Bay Area.  That October, I flew to California for a week where I interviewed with Batman‘s boss and looked at a few apartments in the area.  It was at this time that the offer was extended for me to come to California and stay with Batman et. al., even if it wasn’t for the the position with TSCTC.

I chose not to accept the full time position that I was offered in Oklahoma because company policy would have prohibited me from being hired in California, even if I had quit the job in Oklahoma to move and accept the new position.  Little did I know it would take four more months for anything to happen.  Finally, in March of the following year, I was giving a verbal offer of employment and I quit my temp job and moved to California to stay with my “new family” and get started with the rest of my life.

While I was on my own half-cross-country drive from The Town Named for Damaged Native American Weaponry, The Soul Crushing Telecom Company announced that they had just bought out another local telecommunications company and that they were instituting a hiring freeze until all that companies employees had been assimilated into the population.  I was concerned, but mostly just happy to be moving to California (a dream I didn’t know I had, coming true) and to be living with my good friend.

It is a little known fact that there are three factors in life that tend to trigger depression in just about anyone.  1) Marriage, Divorce or A Death in the Family, 2) Career Change or 3) Major Relocation.  I had two of the three working against me, plus being already predisposed to depression, plus, as it turned out the Bat-Mother-in-Law was determined to come between Batman and his wife and was happy to use me to make that happen.

I lived with the Bat Brood for four long, hard months.  It was horrible for me, feeling like an outsider and seeing that my relationship with Batman was quickly slipping away.  When all was said and done I can only congratulate Batman for standing up to the Bat-Mother-in-Law and not letting her come between him and the Bat-wife, but it was at my expense.

By the time it was over, there was nothing left of my friendship with Batman.  He did make a few attempts here and there to remain friends but I couldn’t get beyond the fact that he had put his wife and her mother ahead of me, when they were doing such evil things to run me out.  (The Bat-wife got snookered, at least for a time, by the Bat-Mother-in-Law.)  Soon, his attempts to continue our friendship gave out and we stopped communicating.

In the summer of 2001, I was contemplating the idea of joining the California National Guard.  I was sick of my life (not unlike I am now) and I desperately needed to do something to make a change and to take control.  I was sick of my body, sick of my mind and sick of having my life.  I thought joining the CNG would 1) whip me into shape, 2) Help me find myself and 3) change my entire existence for the better.  I had no interest in going oversees or going into battle, but I was interested in getting the training and willing to take the risk of being involved in some disaster relief efforts, or God forbid, some police actions.  At one point I had a meeting with a recruiter and was seriously giving it some consideration but thought I should get some information from someone who knew stuff.  I sent an e-mail to Batman asking him to meet me for lunch so I could get some information from him.  He agreed to meet me and I drove to Stockton, California where he was working to meet up for lunch.  I sat in the parking lot waiting for him.  About ten minutes after I arrived, he came down the sidewalk in my direction.  He was just a sliver of who he had been the last time I saw him….  and he looked awesome!

He told me everything I wanted to know about being in Boot Camp/Basic Training and what he thought I’d be getting myself into.  I told him that I apologized for my part in all the hurt that happened when I lived with him and his family.  That I was struggling emotionally and the turmoil was just too much for me, but that it’s no excuse.  We said we’d keep in touch, and continue to work on our friendship and neither of us has made an effort to contact the other since.  And a few weeks later, some psychopaths flew two commercial airplanes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.  I knew we would be going to war, and while I was as enraged as the next American at the events of that day, I knew I could not go to Afghanistan, or Iraq, or any of the other countries and fight a war that I felt had no purpose.  And I knew if I signed any enlistment papers, I would be doing just that.

My life has gone on since then, without Batman and without the military but not without it’s price.  I still think about him and about the friendship I lost.  I still think about how great he looked that day lying by the pool, and about how confident he was, everyday, even as a fat man, and how sexy that made him.  And I still miss that friendship.

About a year ago, I had a dream about Batman and the Mrs…

Part two of this story will follow in the next day or two.