I just saw this piece on the news and couldn't resist the obvious blog. Who hasn't heard about our motorcycle Santa in South Carolina yet?
It happened at a highway gas stop. This old cat was allegedly trying to spread holiday cheer so he dressed as Santa Claus, baited an 8 year old girl into the sidecar of his motorcycle with a stuffed animal and then took off down the highway with her. Luckily, her Dad saw him take off and was able to chase them down before Santa got to the North Pole.
It may not be as bad as it sounds. Supposedly our bearded friend had been giving motorcycle rides to kids all weekend in his Santa suit and maybe he just got carried away with the act. But then why did he hide out in a utility room by a bar until the police found him later that day? The old codger was arrested on kidnapping charges but released on bail soon thereafter.
My gut tells me that this old Santa had good intentions, but it does exhibit an insane lack of judgment on our guy's part. There's the obvious tragedy of the warm fuzzy myth of Santa Claus being totally shattered for this little girl. But can the whole caper be blamed on "senior-itis?" Are the strange social freedoms that many seniors in our society thrive on acceptable in these uptight, P.C. times? Seniors take all sorts of liberties the rest of us would never contemplate: wearing those funny see-through plastic bonnets, singing along at concerts, calling strangers sweet-heart and cutting in line at Costco are among the many side tragic effects of senior-itis.
Just the other day I was walking past our local Senior Center with my daughter when an old man called to me from a walled garden on the side of the building. I hesitantly walked over and he told me to come inside and look at his plants. I played along, admired his plants and prepared to leave but he grabbed me by the arm and begged me to become his Assitant Gardner at the Senior Center. I laughed, said thanks but no thanks and went to leave again. He became mildly aggitated and blocked my way begging me to reconsider. Then he pulled from a bag all sorts of papers classifying plants and asked me if I could name any of the plants in the garden. "No, I don't know anything about plants at all," I lied. "It's okay, I can teach you!" was his enthusiastic reply. For the next 15 minutes he lectured me on the plants in the garden and asked me to repeat his lessons. Finally my toddler made a running break for the street and I took the opportunity to gracefully leave the enclosed garden. I looked back to see him watching us blankly from the garden entryway.
If he had been under 60, I would have considered the entire incident sketchy and perhaps even threatening. But because he was a darling senior citizen with a thick Italian accent, I was simply amused and mildly charmed. But I have to assume some seniors play up this extra allowance we give them. They could easily take advantage of their disarming appearance to prey on others. Who would deny an old man the pleasure of holding their little baby? Maybe he doesn't have any more family and it will be the bright spot in his week. Or maybe he is a calculating psycho who is going to speed off with your sweet pea down the highway never to be seen again. Are you willing to risk it?
If he is convicted, our dear South Carolina Santa could face up to 30 years in prison for kidnapping charges. The jury is out, what do you think?