A while ago, back when my will to live had yet to be completely sucked dry by work, I invented a character who would show up occasionally at dinner time with the kids named "The Chef." The Chef was me, but with a cartoon-y Italian accent and a purple pipe-cleaner, Rollie Fingers moustache.
I would get the kids started with dinner and then duck out of the room, slap on the moustache, pop out the front door and ring the doorbell. They'd run to the door, open it and I would burst in with a little, "Hey-a Kids! It's-a me, the Chef-ah! Can I-ah come Een?" They would be strangely thrilled and invite me in to sit with them during the meal, regaling them with stories from the homeland. It was bizarre.
The really odd thing is, though, that I think they actually like the chef more than they like me. I mean, Mr. Z knows it's just me in a pipe-cleaner (though I deny it heartily) and I'm pretty sure Miss O ain't buyin' what I'm sellin', but for some reason they suspend disbelief and embrace the Chef with a gusto I myself have never quite experienced. They want the Chef to carry them and hug them and they'll eat absolutely anything he puts on the plate. It's fucking nutso!
I haven't "invited" the Chef over in a while and, probably because I am majorly sleep-deprived, I decided to have him stop by tonight. Well let me tell you, their heads nearly exploded. Mr. Z hugged the Chef in some sort of death-vice-clamp and wouldn't let go for about 4 minutes. They were practically fighting each other to see who could engage the Chef first. Neither of them even tried to rip off the Chef's moustache. The Chef was on fire -- he could do no wrong!
I think I've tapped into Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth-Fairy land here with this guy. They know it's a load of crap but they're digging the horse-and-pony act so much, they're willing to just throw all logic out the window.
I maintain, however, that the Chef is an even more powerful icon than those other loser hacks because he doesn't even have to bring presents to get them to dig his shit. No red suit, no plastic eggs, no goddamn money under the pillow (how obvious can you get, Tooth-Fairy?!). All the Chef needs is a fucking pipe-cleaner and he's got the kiddies eating out of his hand. Literally!
I don't know how I feel about the Chef. The kids love him and it's a great way to get them to eat. But I have to admit that I'm a little jealous of the guy. I don't know what it is about him. The purple moustache? The accent? The mystery?
Perhaps he's the man I'll never be.