The Happiest Day of My Life

Sharing my laughter and my life

Continued from page 1

The next day I hid from my co-workers and slipped into the costume. I walked bravely to my desk, sat down, held my belly, and mocked Santa's chuckle. They gathered around me and laughed for the first time in weeks.

A few minutes later, my supervisor walked through the door. He took three steps, and then looked up and saw me. Pausing, he shook his head, turned, and left.

I feared trouble. The phone on the desk rang. It was my boss, and he grumbled, "Mike, come to my office!" I shuffled down the hall. The foam beard swished across my chest with each step.

"Come in!" The muffled voice replied to my knock. I entered and sat down. The foam on my beard creaked. He looked away from me. A bead of sweat rolled down my forehead. The only sound in the room was the hammering of my heart. "Mike..." That was all he managed to say. He lost his composure, leaned back in his chair, and bellowed with laughter as he held his stomach. Tears formed in his eyes, while I sat silent and confused. When he regained control, he said, "Thanks, Mike! With the job cuts, it's been hard to enjoy the Christmas season. Thanks for the laugh, I needed it."

That evening, and every evening of that Christmas season, I stood proudly in the window and waved to my fans. The bus crowd waved wildly, and the little children smiled at the strange Santa. My heart filled with joy.

For a few minutes each day, we could forget the job losses.

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I didn't know it then, but a bond was forming between my fans and I. The next spring, I discovered just how close we had become.

My wife and I were expecting our first child. I wanted the world to know. Less than a month before the birth, I posted a sign in the window, "25 DAYS UNTIL 'B' DAY." My fans passed and shrugged their shoulders. The next day the sign read, "24 DAYS UNTIL 'B' DAY." Each day the number dropped, and the passing people grew more confused.

One day a sign appeared in the bus, "What is 'B' DAY?" I just waved and smiled.

Ten days before the expected date, the sign in the window read, "10 DAYS UNTIL BA-- DAY." Still the people wondered. The next day it read, "9 DAYS UNTIL BAB- DAY," then "8 DAYS UNTIL BABY DAY." My fans finally knew what was happening.

By then, my following had grown to include twenty or thirty different busses and cars. Every night, they watched to see if my wife had given birth. The number decreased and excitement grew. My fans were disappointed when the count reached "zero" without an announcement. The next day the sign read, "BABY DAY 1 DAY LATE". I pretended to pull out my hair.

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Michael T. Smith
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