Rudolph The Regular-Nosed Reindeer Falls In Love On Xmas Eve, 1.
Rudolph The Regular-Nosed Reindeer was not bitter about the more famous, and more brilliantly-nosed, other Rudolph. Nor was he upset that his name was Rudolph The Regular-Nosed Reindeer. It really never came up except in job interviews and at the Department of Motor Vehicles window when he had to renew his driver’s license each year.
“Your name is Rudolph The Regular-Nosed Reindeer?” the worker would inevitably ask. When he would agree that, yes, that was in fact his name, they would invariably follow up with a question along the lines of why would you change your name to that, and when he would say he didn’t, that his parents had named him that, they would either shake their heads disbelievingly (what parents would do that!? They seemed to be asking) or call a coworker over to share the name, too, and eventually most of the people around them would be talking to him about his unusual name, and making jokes that never quite made sense:
“So you gonna go out on a date with Frosty The Snowman?”
“Name like that, I bet your dad was Blitzened!”
“Good thing they didn’t like The Twelve Days of Christmas!” which was for some reason the song everyone always thought it would be worse to be sort-of-named-after.
He was glad he only had to go to the DMV once a year. Other than that, the name only came up when he met someone new. This rarely happened –mostly only when someone new was hired at work. He had steadfastly stayed at the same job for the past 12 years simply to avoid having to go through another job interview, and rarely entered call-in radio contests or attended shows where audience members were picked out by performers.
This story is not about the hardships caused in Rudolph’s life by his unusual name, though.
This story is about how he fell in love on Xmas Eve.
It begins with Rudolph The Regular-Nosed Reindeer standing on a streetcorner.
The story could begin almost anywhere, for who knows when love really begins? Who can say when the particular formation of atoms and quarks and cocoa krispies or whatever, that particular setup for our universe that leads to someone falling in love, begins? It may have begun 2,000,000 years ago when a certain plant died.
But for our purposes, it begins with Rudolph standing on a streetcorner in the city, looking up, at nothing in particular. He was just looking up, waiting for his bus. There wasn’t anything much to see, up, but in fairness there wasn’t anything, much, to see in any direction he looked: traffic crawling by, people walking bundled up in coats in the twilight, burdened with packages, huddled against the cold. Streetlights. The usual kind of city things, I’m sure you can imagine them.
So Rudolph looked up because up was as good a direction as any, and he’d heard once that if you looked up you would feel more optimistic. Not that he was pessimistic, but why take chances?
In front of him, a car stopped in traffic. Rudolph didn’t notice it. There were a man and a woman in the car’s front seat, and a woman in the back seat, looking boredly out the window.
This woman saw Rudolph looking up. She watched him look up for a few seconds, before looking up herself, trying to see what he was looking at. She craned her neck around and about, pushing it up against the car window, but the angle was bad. She began fumbling for the window release when traffic started moving again. She was a half-block up when she got the window open, and was able to turn her eyes skyward. She saw nothing remarkable. She looked back at Rudolph, who was still looking up, now with a small smile on his face (he was beginning to feel optimistic, already).
“Hey!” the woman called, but traffic was too loud: Rudolph didn’t hear. The car’s driver told her to roll the window up, and the car turned right and left Rudolph behind.
It was December 22nd.