Magazine December 31, 2019, Issue

Excerpts from My Nose Is Red But My Heart Is Blue, Memoirs of Rudolph Reindeer

(Mike Blake/Reuters)

From My Nose Is Red But My Heart Is Blue: My Story of Abuse, Survival, and Healing, by Rudolph Reindeer with Herb Gluck

BEGIN EXCERPT

. . . from page 93:

It was just one of those late nights when even though you know you need to keep your secret safe, your defenses are down. I wanted so badly to be accepted by the whole team, but especially by Donner. He was the ideal reindeer to me — a short, jet-black nose, wiry bantam legs, in short, Donner was the whole package. I aspired to be like him. Heck, I aspired just to have him notice me.

“Do anyone else’s antlers hurt sometimes?” Prancer asked. And we all laughed — yes! All of our antlers hurt every now and then.

“Do you guys sometimes think your hooves make you look fat?” Bigger laughter — yes! We all have felt that sometimes.

The team was laughing together and really bonding, and that’s when I made the biggest mistake of my life. That’s when I admitted something that I never should have admitted, something I had been ashamed of from the moment I realized I was different.

“Hey, guys,” I said. And they all turned to me. I was the quiet one, so most of the other reindeer were surprised by the sound of my voice.

“Hey, guys,” I continued. “Don’t you hate it when your nose turns red for, like, no reason?”

From the looks on their reindeer faces, I could tell I had crossed a line and could never go back. No, their noses didn’t turn red. No, they didn’t know what that felt like. And no, they would never look at me the same way.

“What are you?” Donner barked. “Some kind of weirdo?”

“Hey!” Blitzen shouted. “Check out the freak!”

That night, the abuse began. First, it was simple things — laughter, calling me names, never letting me join in the reindeer games. But soon it turned darker.

 

. . . from page 149:

“Can I show you something?”

This question came out of nowhere. Blitzen was talking to me? Blitzen, who had bullied me and teased me relentlessly since that fateful night? But now he looked nervous and scared. He quickly glanced around to make sure we were alone.

“Come here,” he said, head-butting me into a dark closet. “Look.” He turned to face me, and in the dark I could see his face twisted in pain. But I could also see something else.

Faintly — almost imperceptibly — I saw what he most feared, what he most hated about himself.

His nose was glowing red. It was easy to miss. It wasn’t as bright as my nose, but still. He wiped a hoof across it and it got brighter.

“Are you wearing makeup?” I asked.

“It’s soot. From the factory chimney.” His eyes filled with tears. “What am I going to do? I’m a Blitzen! I’m a Blitzen! I’m not a . . . not a you!”

“It’s really not that bad,” I said.

His face turned angry. “What do you know about it, freakazoid?!” And then he reared up and punched me hard in the face. “And if you ever tell anyone about this, I swear I will make you regret it.”

He abruptly turned away.

“Wait! Blitzen!” I cried. But it was too late.

And from that day on, of all the bullies and the abusers, Blitzen was the worst.

 

. . . from page 210:

Mrs. Claus smiled widely, and her kindly eyes crinkled up. “I guess what I’ve been trying to say, Rudy, is that as much as we all understand that you’re . . . well, let’s just say ‘different.’ You’re different. And Mr. Claus and I want to be respectful of the, the . . . what do you call it now?”

“The RN community. For ‘red nose.’”

“Right, but see, we just don’t understand why you have to throw it in people’s faces. You have a red-nose lifestyle. Okay. That’s your choice. But why do you have to rub our normal noses in it?”

 

. . . from page 341:

As the fog continued to roll in, I could sense that the entire campus was getting tense. 

“Rudy, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

“My name,” I shouted, “is ‘Rudolph’!”

Santa nodded. I could see that this was difficult for him.

“Rudolph,” he said quietly. “With your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

I took a deep breath. Was this, at long last, the moment of acceptance? After years and years of bullying and abuse — mental, physical, and sexual — and almost a lifetime of shame and self-loathing, was this finally Rudolph’s time? 

I was at a crossroads. By saying yes, I could make sure that Christmas came for the millions of children all over the world. I could turn a lifetime of suffering and hate into something pure and decent. By saying no, I would be making a stand for all outsiders, for everyone in the RN community. It was a hard decision to make.

“Santa,” I finally said, “You can kiss my furry white . . .”

END EXCERPT

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