You thought it was just a song, but the whole thing really happened and I was there. I was the cashier when the “Christmas Shoes” were purchased, and I want to set the record straight.
I was a thrice-divorced father of six, pulling a Christmas Eve double shift at Walmart, when this kid comes up to me, dressed in rags with — I shit you not — coal dust on his face. My first thought was, This is a bit on the nose. Something is definitely up.
In the song, the lyrics say he was, “pacing round like little boys do.” Yeah, more like when little boys are hopped up on methamphetamines, pal. This sweet little urchin’s eyes were ping-ponging around in their sockets while he launches into this way-too-vague-sob-story about his mama being sick.
“Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my mama, please
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there’s not much time
You see she’s been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight”
So many questions! Why was this kid unsupervised? What child knows his mother’s shoe size? What father lets a child leave his dying mother’s side to go shopping? What was the woman “sick” with? What kind of just Creator takes a child’s mother on Christmas Eve?
Nothing about it made any kind of sense.
And the shoes? On the conveyor belt, I saw a box for a god-awful pair of Jessica Simpson pumps. Marked down from $79.95 to $49.95.
Everything about the situation was setting off my bullshit alarm. He’s dressed as a vagrant, he’s hopped up on drugs, he’s got a sob story, and he’s name dropping Christ Our Lord for some twisted play on my sympathy.
Then, the cherry on the sundae: He starts counting out change to pay for the shoes. It’s Christmas Eve, I’ve got a line with every forgetful deadbeat in a fifty-mile radius making last-minute gift purchases, and this kid starts counting change.
This little creep had a sketch-ass vibe, and I. Was. Not. Buying. It.
This is where I enter the lyrics of the song:
The cashier said, “Son, there’s not enough here.”
Which was my way of saying, "Kindly fuck off, little boy — you and your bullshit tale of an unexplained mystery illness.”
I witnessed every person behind him in line share an unrehearsed, synchronized eye-roll at this move. Well, almost every person.
I’m speaking, of course, of our balladeer. Or, to be more accurate, the “mark.” He was buying what this kid was selling hook, line, and sinker. A look of immense gullibility is all over his face, and once the kid sees it, he does what every little con artist should: he doubles down.
“Then he turned and he looked at me
He said Mama made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without
Tell me, sir, what am I going to do,
Somehow I’ve got to buy her these Christmas shoes”
That little sprinkling of fake backstory did the trick. The dude reaches into his pocket and pays for the shoes! As this poor sap is laying the money down on the counter, this brazen little fuck has the temerity to repeat:
“Could you hurry, sir, daddy says there’s not much time.”
The balls on this little turd!
But then something happens: as I put the box into a bag, the top slips off and for a split second I see what’s inside: not a pair of Jessica Simpson pumps for a meeting with Jesus, but a purple pair of Karl Malone LA Gears.
This little con-artist is not only a liar, but he’s got a piss-poor taste in streetwear and clearly knows nothing about choosing a shoe based on a basketball career. I’m sorry, Mr. Malone, but if you’ve never won a championship, you shouldn’t get a shoe. And man, this shoe was ugly. It was as if you took Karl Malone’s stilted cameo appearance in the movie Soul Plane and gave it, God help us, a light-up heel.
It’s the perfect shoe, if you happen to be a 7-foot-tall toddler or, apparently, a drug-addled child with a talent for spinning maudlin tales of woe.
The second the sale rings through, the kid mumbles some half-assed “thank you,” snatches the shoes, and runs out of the store like he’s late for a train.
Look, I’m not some Scrooge who relishes ruining a beloved-by-idiots Christmas song — but the truth must be told. It’s not about a child’s love for his dying mother and a reminder about the “true meaning of Christmas” — it’s about a questionable child’s scam to get shoes named after a truly awful deadbeat dad who rallied against Magic Johnson’s return to the NBA after his HIV announcement.
Christmas shoes, my ass.