[SCENE: the parking lot outside a mall in Northern Indiana]
[a bearded man is loading bags into a Ford Aerostar van, singing to himself]
THE MAN: We’ve been on the run, drivin’ in the sun, lookin’ out for number one...
[a woman with small children approaches]
WOMAN: Excuse me, sir?
THE MAN: [turns to see her, does not stop singing] CALIFORNIA HERE WE COOOO-OME, RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROOO-OM
WOMAN: I’m sorry, but aren’t you the mall Santa here? I thought you were supposed to be inside, taking pictures with the kids and depressing the hell out of them with your, well, whole [gestures vaguely at him] y’know
PURDUE SANTA: Oh, ho, ho, ho! Little lady, that’s the old me! Sure, I’d gone through a rough patch for a couple of years there, but we all have our tough times.
WOMAN: You passed out in front of my children last year.
PURDUE SANTA: I was dead for thirty-eight minutes! The doctors said no one’s ever come back from being out that long, but I fine back compleply came.
WOMAN: Are you-
PURDUE SANTA: Boibler mlup
PURDUE SANTA: I’m fine. Anyways, that was then, and this is now! I’m ditchin’ this dirty old town and I’m heading west, to a land of promise and hope, where the air is sweet and the possibilities endless. [starts singing again] Made up my mind to make a new start, I’m goin’ to California with an aching / in my heaaaaaart
WOMAN: Okay, you know it’s just a sixth-tier bowl in Santa Clara, right? I mean, we’re all happy for you, it’s real progress - no one disputes that it is - but your reaction is a bit over-the-top for the Foster Farms Bowl.
PURDUE SANTA: I’m excited to see her farm!
PURDUE SANTA: Jodie Foster, I’ve been wanting to meet her for years. Why, in 1981, I-
WOMAN: It’s just a chicken company. The bowl is sponsored by a mass-producer of chickens and turkeys.
PURDUE SANTA: Look, Money Monster wasn’t terrific, but I think we can applaud her for choosing challenging roles. You know, once I’m out in California, I’m thinking of joining the movie business myself. I think I’d be a natural at it. Why, just the other day, someone in the mall told me I looked like a present-day Paul Walker!
WOMAN: How exactly did they phrase it
PURDUE SANTA: [singing both the lead and backup vocals] all the leaves are brown / ALL THE LEAVES ARE BROWN / and the sky is gray / AND THE SKY IS GRAY -
WOMAN: Listen, it’s important to me that you understand you’re not going to Hollywood, you’re going to a stadium two hours from anything in the middle of a bunch of office parks.
PURDUE SANTA: [continuing to load his van] CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ / ON SUCH A WINTER’S DAY
WOMAN: You’re 6-6 and you’re going to be playing a 7-5 Arizona team.
PURDUE SANTA: Did you know that we beat Rich Rodriguez two years in a row when he was at Michigan?
WOMAN: [turning toward camera] That part is true, under the coaching of current Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, Michigan lost two straight games to Purdue.
PURDUE SANTA: [now also addressing camera] I’m sure they’ve turned it around and won some division titles since then.
[both stare at the camera for a few beats]
[Sarah Maclachan’s “Angel” can be heard playing on a mall loudspeaker in the background]
PURDUE SANTA: [closing up back doors of van] Anyways, I understand that it’s not the greatest bowl game, but it is a bowl game, and that’s a major step back to prominence for us. The Darrell Hazell years were tough for us, but Jeff Brohm’s turned the program around quickly. With his fast-paced, exciting offense, I think we’re looking at a good few years ahead, and-
WOMAN: Well, as long as he doesn’t leave for a better job.
PURDUE SANTA: HE’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE HE LOVES US
WOMAN: Alright, well, I hope you’re right. Anyways, do you have a minute to take pictures with my kids? They’ve been looking forward to this.
PURDUE SANTA: [climbing into driver’s seat] Ma’am, I’d love to, but I really should be getting on the road. It’s a long drive from here to Santa Clara, and I want to get a head start. Besides, why do you keep bringing your kids here? Last year I promised your daughter a “Hatchimals Surprise” and actually gave her a litter of baby raccoons. Why don’t you just start going to a better mall?
WOMAN: [shrugs] why don’t you just start rooting for Notre Dame?
SECURITY GUARDS, running out of mall: There he is! There’s the guy who stripped the copper wiring from JC Penney’s!
PURDUE SANTA: Gotta go. [peels out] CAL-I-FOR-NIA GURLS ARE UNDENIABLE, DAI-SY DUKES, BI-KI-NIS ON TOP
DAUGHTER: Mommy, where’s he going?
WOMAN: He’s going to a bowl game, sweetie. Purdue Santa’s going to a-
PURDUE SANTA: [crashes into front of Starbucks, van catches fire]
WOMAN: Say, have I ever told you kids about Hanukkah?