Bubba and the North Pole
By Bobby Neal Winters
Many of you have been asking me about Bubba’s doings as of late, and, until recently, the answer was that Bubba had been oddly silent. This had worried me somewhat. As a parent, I’ve learned that when children are quiet they are often up to something and, while Bubba is far from being a child himself, he does have certain childlike qualities that endear him so to us.
This worry was exacerbated when, not having talked to him for an extended time, I called him.
“Hello, Bubba,” I said. “I hadn’t heard from you in a long time so I figured I’d give you a call.”
“Hey there,” he began, but this was followed by him making the sound that someone makes with they are talking and lose their footing. This was followed by an expletive and Bubba talking to someone not on the phone, “Hey, you watch that! Are you trying to kill me?”
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Can I call you back?” he said.
“Sure,” I replied.
He didn’t say goodbye, merely turning off his phone, but before he did, I heard him say “Now you get back down there!” in a way than indicated he meant it.
A couple of hours later he called me back.
“Are you all right?” I asked.
“I’m fine,” he said.
“So what’s been going on? Why haven’t I been hearing from you?” I asked.
His answer was a tale that is unbelievable even by Bubba’s standards. I will relate it now to you with the usual caveat that this is coming from Bubba.
It all began back in December of 2004 when Santa Claus made a routine landing on a stretch of country road between East Jesse, Oklahoma and US Highway 377. As some of you may know, Santa Claus is originally from Stringtown, Oklahoma and stops along that stretch of road to tighten reindeer harnesses and fortify himself with peppermint schnapps on his way from Fort Smith to Ardmore. On this particular occasion Santa’s routine was disturbed by some local youths who were out spotlighting deer. At that time, all of the reindeer were killed and taken as meat with the exception of Rudolph who escaped.
After an incident with some Pentecostals and doing some community service work, Santa made his way back to the North Pole, but Rudolph, or more probably Rudolph’s offspring, were being sighted around the area during the Christmas season of 2005. Bubba had spent some time hunting for them, but after a while—mysteriously—quit talking about it.
Three years later now Bubba made an admission to me.
“I found out how to capture them and have been holding them in a pen,” he said.
“Keeping them in a pen?” I asked incredulously. “How? Can’t they fly?”
“Fly?” he said. “You betcha they can fly.” Bubba was a Big Sarah Palin supporter.
“I had to put a dome made out of chicken wire up over it,” he said. “And I had to make a frame out of sucker-rods leftover from oilfield construction to support it. I was up there working on it when you called. One of the reindeer saw I was distracted and flew up and bumped me. They are clever critters. A while back, one of them got loose, flew up to around Kansas City, and got himself run over by a college professor in a Kia just south of Overland Park. That’s when I decided I needed to reninforce my cover.”
“Wait a second,” I said, thinking I’d spotted a hole to poke in this nonsense. “How do you know what happened to a deer south of Overland Park? That’s a seven-hour trip from where you are.”
“Not by reindeer,” he said simply. “I’ve been doing a lot of flying around lately.”
“Where to?” I figured I’d let him spin his tale out and trap him in a contradiction.
“To the North Pole for one,” he said. “The first time I did it, it was just for a joy ride, but I bumped into Santa Claus up there and we started to do some business. He’s actually just a manager and a corporate symbol. He farms out finding out who is naughty and nice to a security firm and then subcontracts delivery. All he does for himself anymore is public appearances. Since I’ve got my own herd of reindeer now, I am in the catbird seat as far as subcontracting delivery. He even told me that I might be able to fill in for him at personal appearances if I kept my healthy appetite and grew a beard.”
This was getting to be a bit much.
“I am going to say goodbye to you now Bubba,” I said.
“But don’t you want to know about what the elves are really ...”
(Bobby Winters is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University.)