I didn’t always have this big red honker, you know. I mean, sure, I wanted to be famous. Everybody knows those other reindeer— Comet, Cupid, and all those guys. They’re household names too. But who wants to have a song sung about them for having a giant red nose? Especially one that blinks like a broken stoplight! Not me!
Not that it didn’t come in handy, mind you, but if I had to save Christmas, that’s not the way I would’ve picked. Nope, not what I would have picked at all. I used to have a great nose. My nose was superb! Perfect, even. But one December day, all of that changed in an instant. Well, a couple of instants, actually. It happened like this:
There I was, clip-clopping along to Games practice, listening to some swank festive tunes on my SkyPod, and admiring my perfectly black, non-light-emitting reindeer nose. I was just thinking that maybe I’d stop at the cafeteria for a little snack on my way when I smelled the sweetest, chocolatiest, most heavenly smell known to reindeer-kind. That glorious aroma could only mean one thing— Mrs. Claus was baking her famous, fabulous, fantastic Carrot Chocolate Chip Cookies. My nose twitched, my mouth watered, and my feet moved themselves toward Claus Cottage’s kitchen window.
I peeked in the open window and watched Mrs. Claus. She was pleasantly plump and rosy-cheeked, with her wavy silver hair in a soft bun and a frilly white apron on over her old fashioned red corduroy dress. I eyed each delectable cookie as she slid it expertly off the pan and onto the cooling rack with her spatula. Just one, I thought. Then, who am I kidding? I’d eat the whole pan in one gulp if she’d let me.
Wham! A snowball smashed into the back of my head, right between my antlers. I didn’t even have time to turn around before another one sailed past me. This one hit the window above me with a thwack and jarred it loose. The window dropped faster than Santa’s pants without suspenders. And do you know where it landed? That’s right— on my perfect reindeer nose.
Fast forward five minutes, and life was only getting worse for me. My nose throbbed terribly. It was the size of a baseball, and it was still swelling.
“Wow, can you see past that thing?” said Dasher. Blitzen was still laughing. He was the one who threw the missiles.
“Rudolph, you’d better go to the infirmary. You certainly can’t play Reindeer Games like that,” said Mrs. Claus with concern as she examined me through the window, which had been opened again to free my snout.
“Yeah, see ya later, Big Nose,” called Blitzen.
I hobbled toward the infirmary. It was a good thing I knew the way because it was getting harder to see around my burgeoning nose. When I arrived, a couple of maintenance elves were putting a new coat of brilliant red paint on the large wooden sign above the door. I looked up to say hi. The two elves both had small plastic pieces covering their noses. How strange.
My nose was softball-sized now, and I was definitely having trouble seeing around it. I stepped to the side of the scaffold to open the infirmary door, but I couldn’t see my feet around my nose. I heard the clink as my hoof hit the scaffold pole, and then I heard the groaning and creaking as the scaffolding swayed dangerously and threatened to topple. The elves held on tight. I held my breath and ducked, bracing myself for the worst. But the platform didn’t fall. It settled back against the infirmary wall slowly, like an old house cat laying down for a midday nap. I huffed in relief.
Then I heard an ever-so-delicate plop. Right in front of my eyes, every inch of my now grapefruit-sized nose was covered in a perfect coat of gleaming red paint. I laughed nervously.
“Sorry, guys. That could have been so much worse, huh?” I said, looking up. The elves weren’t smiling. They weren’t even angry. Instead, they were staring, open-mouthed, down at my nose in horror.
“W-w-wwhat?” I said. “It’s just a little paint. It’ll wash right off.” They shook their heads in unison. “It won’t wash off?” They shook their heads again. One of them handed me a can of unopened paint.
The can read “Elbert Elf’s Mighty Magic Enamel,” in big letters. In smaller letters below it said, “Never use another paint again! Good for all your permanent painting needs! Still looks new after 200 years or your money back!”
“Oh... kay,” I said. I didn’t get it. The elves, still open-mouthed, motioned for me to turn the can over. Down at the very bottom, in itty bitty print, it said, “CAUTION: For precision maintenance elf use only. Highly permanent. Will not wash off. Not for use on the planet Neptune.” Then, in even smaller print below that, it read, “WARNING: May cause drowsiness, dizziness, and purple polka dots on skin. Keep away from nose as product will cause permanent glowing. If swallowed, seek immediate magical medical attention.”
“Wow!” I said. “Purple polka dots! What does it mean here about the nose glowing thing?” Then I remembered the elves’ nose shields. My heart sank. “Oh no! You don’t mean... is my nose going to glow?” I answered my own question when the bulging orb on my face, slowly but surely, began to emit a pure crimson light. “So, I’m going to have a giant red glowing nose? Forever?” I gazed up at the elves in astonished desperation. They bowed their small heads sadly.
How did everything go so wrong, so quickly? I mean, I know it wasn’t all bad. I did save Christmas just a couple weeks later. All that fog and everything. I guess I should just be grateful for what I’ve got. I am famous, after all. And everyone knows my name. Most folks can’t remember all eight of those other guys. I’ve even saved two other Christmases. Fog again. You’d be surprised how often that happens. I should be proud of myself. At least, that’s what my therapist tells me.