Ivan's Place

In honor of the greatest moralist who never lived
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Becker

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
A Modern Fable
Copyright © 1977 by Bill Becker

I thought that I had posted this on my website long ago. Apparently I did not. Hope you enjoy it.

The scene opens on a narrator who speaks to the audience:

Narrator:          By now I’m sure that we all know the story of Rudolph, but not many know what else happened that night. Let us go back a few years and re-live one of Santa’s most memorable Christmas Eves. As you remember:

(Narrator speaks the lyrics of the song)

“Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer (enter Rudolph) had a very shiny nose; and if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows.

“All of the other reindeer (enter reindeer) used to laugh and call him names (“weirdo”, “light-bulb nose”, “beacon-beak” from reindeer)

“They never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games. (Reindeer play catch, tag; all push Rudolph away when he tries to join in.)

“Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say (enter Santa), ‘Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?’

“Then how the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee: ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you’ll go down in history.’”

But then ... (Enter Salesman, breathless. He rushes up to Santa.)

Salesman:        Santa, Santa ... thank goodness I got here in time; what a lucky break!

Santa:              What can I do for you, my son?

Salesman:        It’s not what you can do for me, Santa; it’s what I came here to do for you! (Santa puzzled, salesman triumphant) Your troubles are over, Santa; no more losing your way; no more being late to the kids’ houses; no more ...

Santa:              Yes, my son, I know. Rudolph is going to guide my sleigh tonight.
("Right," "Get lost," "Beat it, fella," from reindeer.)

Salesman:        That's just what I mean, Santa ... (Triumphantly) From now on, you won't need Rudolph. (Reindeer perk up) Look!! (He unveils a contraption with a headlight, rabbit ears, helical coil, dashboard).

Santa:              (Impressed) That's certainly an impressive looking gadget; it would be the envy of the elves in my workshop. What does it do?

Salesman:        What doesn't it do, Santa? It lights your way, plots your course, figures your arrival time. And, it won't cost you a cent.

Santa:              But what about Rudolph? What will happen to him?

Salesman:        Santa, reindeer are very resourceful. ("Yes, reindeer are resourceful, Santa," "Hear, hear," from reindeer.) You won't have to worry about Rudolph. And, think of how much you'll save on hay. ("Right, Santa," "I always said Rudolph ate too much" from reindeer.)

Santa:              But the children...They love Rudolph. They'll know if he isn't with me.

Salesman:        Don't worry about the kids, Santa; I've got it all figured out. All you do is put this card in each kid's bag of toys. It tells about my company's wonderful invention that protects Santa and his reindeer from harm. I guarantee that they'll forget Rudolph by next year. (Confidentially to Santa) You can talk kids into anything. (Reproachful look from Santa) Now, don't get me wrong, Santa. I love kids as much as anyone, but we can't stand in the way of progress, can we? ("Right, we can't stop progress, Santa" from reindeer.)

Salesman:        Speaking of progress, Santa, my company is developing a rocket that will pull your sleigh quietly and safely, with a plastic reindeer mockup so the kids won't know the difference. We'll give it to you for nothing if you'll just let our company be a subsidiary of your workshop. ("Beat it," "Get lost," "Who is this jerk," from reindeer. Reproachful look from Santa to reindeer.)

Santa:              (After a pause, during which he ponders): I suppose I should be tempted by your offer, and thank you for coming all this way to see me. But I'm afraid that if I accept, my workshop will become a subsidiary of your company, and I will be just another salesman for your products.

Salesman:        Our salesmen make a lot of money, Santa. And we have a great retirement plan.

Santa:             No, thank you. It probably doesn't make sense to you, but children need someone like me to stand between them and plastic reindeer mockups. I'm having enough trouble with this kind of thing as it is. I think that I and my reindeer will go out tonight as we planned. Goodbye.

Salesman:        (Cheerily) Well, I was sure you'd be interested, but it really doesn't matter. You'll change your mind. Here's my card. Merry Christmas, and don't forget: If it isn't plastic, it isn't progress. (To reindeer:) So long fellows; nothing personal, you know. (He exits.)

Santa:              (To reindeer) You have been very naughty tonight, and we are late. You will all have to work very hard, so we'd better be on our way. (All exit.)

November 3, 1977. Canoga Park, CA.