Red-Nosed Pizza Face

Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham

312_stopthepresses.jpgI was singing the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” song to myself the other day when something occurred to me.
Yes, I sing to myself sometimes.
No, I’m not that good a singer.
In fact, I’m rather brutal – my voice is, anyway.
That wasn’t what occurred to me, though.
Here’s what did: Those reindeer were pretty tough on poor Rudolph.

You know, not letting him play in their reindeer games and all, and why? Because he had a red nose?
What a–holes those reindeer were. Seriously.
I say that because I can sympathize with Rudolph in that respect. I was tall, skinny and awkward growing up. With a face covered with pimples – yes, Pizza Face was a name that the reindeer, er, the mean kids who sat in the back of the school bus used to try to get me to answer to.

I kept my head buried in a book – probably explains why I do what I do now, eh? But they were relentless. I remember one time seeing scrawled on the back of a seat, “Chris G. Is A Fag.”
But no Santa came to me and asked me to guide his sleigh on a foggy night to get everybody to like me. I don’t know that I ever felt accepted, to be honest. I do remember that I started lifting weights not long after seeing my name in a sentence with an epithet – and even today, all these years later, I still lift them, with numbers that start in the threes and fours as maximum lifts to boast for those efforts.

Basically, I wanted to be able to throw down.
Pizza Face. Chris G. Is A Fag.

I saw one of those kids who used to sit on the back of the bus and call me names the other day.
I’d like to say that I didn’t spend the rest of the afternoon daydreaming about wanting to push the guy through a window, but I’d be lying.

Give credit to Rudolph, though, because he could.
Forgive, that is.

And it was his inner strength there that saved Christmas.
I don’t know why it took me so long in life to figure out what the story of Rudolph was all about, but it has finally dawned on me that it wasn’t about Santa Claus needing help delivering presents on Christmas Eve.


Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.


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