One of my favorite toys as a kid was a little something called a “Super Duper Double Looper Slot Car Racetrack”. As you can imagine, it was awesome. I spent countless hours racing Hot Wheels cars around a plastic track so massive and noisy my mom thought Tyco was in cahoots with the makers of Tylenol.

I remember how I got it too. I saw the commercial and immediately knew I was wasting my youth on stupid Hungry Hungry Hippos and Speak-n-Spell. Come to think of it, those were loud too. That explains why Mom upgraded from Tylenol and carried Excedrin in her bathrobe. In a Pez dispenser, I believe.

Anyway, two days later, it was announced that Santa Claus was going to be at the shopping mall. I saw my golden opportunity. So did my mom, since all I’d been doing for the last 48 hours was telling her how much I wanted a Super Duper Double Looper Slot Car Racetrack.

Then, one afternoon, Mom and I saw him. Santa Claus. Right there, just walking down the sidewalk outside a strip mall. He wasn’t supposed to be in town for another 4 days, and at the mall across town, not this one with the drugstore. Maybe he was in town early to do recon. Who cared? There he was. Better yet, there was no line to stand in! This was instant access to toy requests, and it was time to ask for the coolest toy I’d ever seen.

“Hey, Santa!”

“Oh! (cough, cough) Well, hello, little boy.” (Stamps out cigarette. Don’t judge. Recon missions have to be stressful.)

“I want a Super Duper Double Looper Slot Car Racetrack!”

“Well…ok. Um…let’s see here…”

That’s when Santa did something I couldn’t make sense of. He patted his coat and pants pockets, like he was looking for a pad and pen. I’m not going to lie. It tarnished the magic for me a little. I wanted to say, “You know when I’m sleeping but you have to write this down?”

Were adjectives some kind of kryptonite to jolly ol’ St. Nick? I stood there, speechless. I almost repeated it when he gave up his frantic search and said, “If you’re good, I’ll remember what it is. How’s that sound?”

With a combination of befuddlement and joy, I replied, “That sounds great!” Then he got in his Pontiac station wagon (it must have been one seriously clandestine recon mission) and waved. As he left behind a plume of festive exhaust fumes, I couldn’t help but get the same feeling my dad gets when the waiter doesn’t write down an order — “He’s totally going to mess this up.” Only multiplied by 100. This wouldn’t be a “I said no cheese on my sandwich” kind of mistake. What was I going to do? Send some lame Single Looper racetrack back to the kitchen?

“Why don’t you write him a letter with the name of the Super Race thingy?” asked my mom. Then she did the coolest thing. She added, “Or we could go see him again this weekend.”

Wait, what? See Santa twice? I didn’t know you could do that. But we did. Granted, we had to stand in line this time, forced to spend two hours with a bunch of dumb kids who didn’t believe Santa did advance recon in a Pontiac. Two weeks later, when I woke up to find the best toy ever made under the tree, I knew the whole experience was worth every second. And I knew I had the best mom ever. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Categories: Columns