copyright © 1994 Jeff Goode

DANCER by Jeff Goode


     I've been with The Eight for a long time. I know I haven't been here as long as some of them, like Dasher or... Vixen. But I was here before Hollywood came on, and I was here way before Donner and Rudolph. But I guess we don't count Rudolph.

     But if Vixen leaves and if Blitzen and Cupid quit, then I'll be one of the senior deer and I was wondering if that means I'll get a pay raise. I think I should after this. I mean when someone is raped on the job, that's a hazardous work environment, right? You wouldn't see that happening if we worked in a bank. At least not during business hours. Or maybe you would, I don't know, I've never worked in a bank. I was in a zoo for a while, but the hours are long and the pay is peanuts.

     No, that's just a joke. I've never been in a zoo. I went to one once, and I don't know how those animals can do it. It's so degrading. They walk around stark naked and people take pictures. And some of them - and I don't want to sound anti-simian, but it's mostly the primates - will stand there and play with themselves in broad daylight. And they don't even get tips! Apparently, zookeepers don't like people throwing money in the cages. I guess they think the difference between pornography and family entertainment is whether or not you can lick a dollar bill and stick it on someone's naked behind.

     They say Cupid was a zoo-baby. I think that's why he's like he is, that's got to be a scarring experience for a young fawn. Or any child, for that matter.

     I just don't understand people. They'll complain about gratuitous violence or sex on television or in the movies and then they'll turn around and take their kids to a rodeo or a petting zoo. I don't get it.


     If Cupid - I'm sorry I don't mean to change the subject - if Cupid and Blitzen go on strike I can't participate.

     I need this job. I used to be a ballet instructor, and I can't go back to that. You see, there was a movement - this was a loong time ago - a fundamentalist religious movement where they were saying that reindeer shouldn't ballet. It was really weird. There were all these people giving sermons and talking about it like a dancing deer was one of the signs of the apocalypse or something. I mean, it's not like we were doing modern dance, this was classical ballet. It was really scary.

     The only thing I can compare it to is the holocaust in Germany, it was scary like that. Because this whole movement just came at us from out of nowhere, deer were beaten to death for wearing tights or a tutu and we had no idea why it was happening and we didn't know who to trust because some of the leaders of the movement were reindeer.

     They burned my studio and I just had to get out. It was just safer not to dance. And now nobody does. And that's why you've never seen a reindeer ballet.

     And it's really tragic, really, because some of the best dancers in the world at the time were reindeer.

     Ballet just comes naturally to a deer. Dancing on point. Breathtaking leaps. When you see deer pas de deux they can leap over each other's heads. And of course some of the intricate tailwork is just gone from the repertoire. I think Barishnikov still teaches some tailwork, but it's just not the same.

     They used to say that you had not lived until you'd seen a beautiful reindoe dance The Nutcracker Suite with a flying stag in tights.

     I guess nobody lives anymore.


     If I don't - I'm sorry to change the subject again - If I don't join the strike, it's not because I don't believe Vixen. That day. I guess I saw her right afterwards. And she wouldn't say anything. But if you'd seen her. You'd know. Something happened.

     I'm not calling Santa Claus a liar. I don't know what his story is. And I don't really know him that well. I mean, I come in, I do my job, I go home. I guess he's always been pretty straightforward with me. I mean, okay, here's what I mean. This is my favorite Santa Claus story.

     When I first came up here after I was offered this position. I had no idea this was a Christmas-related job. And I was looking over my contract, which, of course, said that we made this run on December 24th, right?

     And I'm looking over my contract, and I said, "What about vacation days?" And he said, "You only work one day a year, you don't get vacation days."

     And I said, "What about sick days and maternity leave?" And he said "...What do you mean, sick days and maternity leave?" and I said "Do I get the 24th off if I'm sick or pregnant?"

     And he kind of turned a little red and said, "No, you will work the 24th in sickness and in health, and if you want this job you will not give birth on or about the 24th of December."

     And I thought, that's a bit fascist. But I saw he was getting a little hot around the collar, so I said, "Okay, fine."

     But secretly I was thinking, we'll just wait and see. I mean, if I come in here barfing my lungs out on the 24th this guy's not going to make me strap on a harness and fly around the world. He's got his clients waiting all year for him to make one delivery, who's gonna notice if it's postponed a day or two.

     So I'm thinking, okay, no sick days, no vacation days, but it's only once a year, and I'm looking at my calendar, and suddenly, in a moment of brilliance, I realize that this is during the holidays.

     So then I said, "So, Mr. Claus is this scheduled for sometime around the 24th most of the time?"

     And he said, "No, it's scheduled for exactly on the 24th all the time."

     And I said, "Well, not every year."

     And he said, "Yes, every fucking year."

     Well, I was getting a little pissed off now, and I said, "Well excuse me, but what happens when it falls during Hanukkah?"

     And then he started laughing that annoying laugh of his. But I didn't think it was funny, because most businesses will give you time off to spend Hanukkah with your family, so I thought it was a valid question.

     And then he said, "Dancer, one of my reindeer is a practicing Muslim. And most of them are devout agnostics. But on December 24th you are all Unitarians, because on Christmas Eve I need Christmas deer to deliver Christmas toys by Christmas Day." Boy was I embarrassed.

     Comet was a Muslim at the time. He had just converted to Islam that year.

     But then the next summer he made his pilgrimage to Mecca. And instead of having this great religious experience he was completely self-conscious the whole time because he was the only reindeer there. And then when people started asking him what he did for a living he was afraid to admit that he flew Christmas toys to good little infidel girls and boys so he eventually got embarrassed and had to go home.


     I don't know why I keep coming back to this, but... I was out by the toyshop that day and I heard strange sounds. But I didn't think anything of it, because I've heard strange sounds out by the toyshop before.

     And I just figured it was Santa fighting with Mrs. Claus again. They fight all the time. That woman is just nasty to him.

     Especially if she's been drinking. That's why I don't go to the office Christmas party anymore. Mrs. Claus is always there, and it's odd anyway, because she's the only one who isn't actually involved in the Christmas run. She doesn't make toys, she doesn't wrap presents. She's just Santa's wife, so she comes to the party. And once she's had too much to drink - which doesn't take long because she usually gets started before we even get back - she starts tossing elves across the room, or trying to drown them in the punch bowl. She hates the elves. I don't know why. She hates Rudolph, too. And she never liked me, either.

     Is there anyone she doesn't hate?

     She likes Cupid. I'll never understand that, because he badmouths her to her face. One time he said the only thing the Claus's had in common were alcoholism, body odor, snowy-white beards and venereal disease.

     I think she likes some of the bucks. Comet. Dasher.


     When I - I'm sorry - when I first joined the team, we were getting ready for a trial run and my sleigh bells weren't fitting properly, so I went to the toyshop to get another set. And Santa came in and he said wanted to help me try them on. And I told him I didn't need any help, but he... I don't know...

     But then Dasher came in and started saying what nice toys we had that year. ...And Santa told him to go away, but he just stood there looking at all the toys and saying, "What nice toys we have. They must be very difficult to make." Over and over. Until Santa left.


     ...I wish I could dance again.




This piece is sixth in a series of monologues which were later gathered together to become the play The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. The text above is the original, unrevised version of the script as written for No Shame/Chicago in 1993. (Though it was never performed there, due to the impending Christmas holiday.)

This piece has been performed many times, both as a solo piece and as part of the play The Eight: Reindeer Monologues.
Performances at No Shame:

December 13, 2002 - No Shame / Charlottesville. Performed by Jade Catta-Preta.

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