Santa and the White Flag

I originally posted this back in 2015, unsure if it would be the final year for Katie to “believe.” We would learn this year that she had pretty much figured things out on her own by the following year, but didn’t want to tell us because, “I didn’t want to spoil Christmas for you guys.”

And that’s how the magic works now, and will work as long as we all believe. Seems like a good time to bring this one back…

“So when are we going to see Santa this year?  Christmas is only two more weeks, and we haven’t seen him yet!”

Our daughter is ten years old, and normally a question like that around Christmas would be the kind of thing you’d want to grab onto with both hands. For a ten year old to still want to talk to Santa, that’s a pleasant surprise.

By age ten children are definitely starting to understand the world around them; there’s a lot less magic to be found, less awe, and often disappointment tinged with, “Awww…” when they begin to grasp the reality that’s been in front of them all this time. 

As parents we look to the child to grow, but at the same time, there’s a part of us that wishes the inevitable changes might slow down, just a bit.  It’s an impossible game, of course.  The sands pass from the top of each hourglass-phase of their life to the bottom, and when you can see the end of Santa Claus coming into view you’ll do just about any damn thing you can to slow those final grains down.

Of all the times you throw shade towards the truth as a parent, the Christmas gig is by far the biggest act of deception you have going.  Think about it – even people without kids are in on it.  It’s the only truly Global Conspiracy that has actually worked for centuries; nobody has ever launched a successful campaign to break the story and share the truth with everyone, and had it stick.

If you’re ever wondering about the fundamental truth of human beings, as to whether or not we are good or evil in our core, it’s hard not to think that we must be pretty decent if we’ve managed to keep children around the world playing along with the charade for all this time.  If freaking NORAD is in on the game, and has gone so far as to give kids a mobile-device based, real-time Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve?  I’d say no matter what you read or hear about human beings, I think there’s still hope for the human race.

When you’re a kid, Christmas is THE thing you just knew was going to be awesome, every year.  Part of that was the mystique of the man in the big, red suit, a guy who gets around the world in one night, to everyone, everywhere. It’s magic!  It’s Christmas!  It’s also, sadly, the thing that many of us will recall, was the first big thing we figured out…was a lie.

I remember when my parents let me in on the whole deal.  I knew it – I don’t remember being disappointed at all.  It was as-if I’d known it, but just held on believing for that last little bit as a hedge…just in case.  The bonus was now I was, “In The Club,” so when we went to bed, I just got to hang out there for about 30 minutes until my sister fell asleep, and then my parents came back upstairs Italian Ninja Style (constantly shushing each other so as not to make any noise), and snuck me down to help put presents under the tree.

With Katie asking to see Santa one more time, we were surprised, but knew that time had to be running out.

2006

In 2006 we first brought an infant Katie to see Santa at the local nursery, Waterloo Gardens.  A neighbor had told us about their great Santa, and how you could bring your own camera and spend as much time as you wanted with him.  Despite the natural hesitation most children have the first time they see Santa, Katie settled right into his lap.  He even waved Lynda and I over for a photo with all of us together, and he asked us, “What do you want for Christmas?”  At that time the little lady hadn’t really come to terms with sleep (and wouldn’t do so for another year and a half), so I said, “Any chance for sleep, Santa?”

He chuckled and said, “No, no, not yet.  Your present is that you have her.”  He was right, of course, but I’m pretty sure I still asked for sleep for the next few years…

Each year we would return to Waterloo Santa.  Each year Katie got bigger, and Santa never changed; he stayed the same wonderful, warm, charming, perfect picture of Christmas.  Each year he would remember us, and Katie with her stuffed dog “Pupsters” by her side.  In 2008 he remarked, “I love watching them grow over the years.   I would love to see some of the pictures over time…”  I asked him if he’d ever been given a set, and he said, “Come to think of it, no…no.”

2007

2007

The following weekend Katie and I went back, and gave Santa a CD of her years with him.  He held it with both hands, looked at her, looked at me, and beamed.  “Nobody’s ever done this for me…Thank you so, so much!”  As we walked outside, Katie said, “I think we made Santa VERY happy!  We’re TOTALLY on the good list now!”

Each year as we came back, he’d see her walking in with Pupsters. Santa would go, “And THERE’S KATIE!”  You want to know what it feels like to be a rock star?  Imagine being a kid walking in to see Santa, and have him remember you first.  Lynda and I would just sit back and watch Katie get enveloped in everything wonderful about the season, swept away in believing it – all of it.

When Waterloo Gardens went out of business, Lynda and I both though the same thing: “Santa. What do we do about SANTA?”  She called the General Manager on the final weekend the nursery was going to be open, and asked if she knew where they might be able to find Santa.  The General Manager replied, “Did you say your daughter was Katie?  With the little stuffed dog?  Hang on.  He gave me a list of people he wanted to stay in touch with…”

That’s when I learned Santa’s name was Tom Leinbach, and he had an email address.  I remember sitting at my computer in October, and weeping openly when I got a letter from Santa.

2008

“You are one of a few people I hoped would contact me. Unfortunately, I was just as surprised as you were about Waterloo closing and I never thought to get your name, address or phone number. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t see Katie any more. I’m hoping that she will be bringing HER kids to see me in 20 years…”

We went and saw Santa twice more at nearby LeBeau Gardens.  Each time he greeted her (and Pupsters) by name.  Each time she went home absolutely glowing, because there were all the other Santas around…but this one, this was the real Santa.  Her belief made us believe.  You’ve heard me say it time and time again – this whole parenting thing is just one long improvisational exercise; a never-ending leap from moment to moment where you never stay too high, or too low, for long.  To have something this right, this wired, we could ask for no more.

2009

On February 11, 2015, Lynda was sitting in the living room reading her iPad, when I saw her eyes well up with tears.  This got my attention immediately, as Lynda is Irish – Irish people don’t DO tears.  Tears are totally MY bag as the Italian here.  She handed me her iPad, and I read the Facebook posting from LeBeau Gardens…

“We are sad to share the news of the sudden passing of Tom Leinbach, our beloved Santa…”

Santa was gone.  I thought about the last set of photos that I’d sent to him in December, and how he’d replied to me one final time.

“I saw a girl tonight that just turned 15. She no longer believes but still wanted to come in for a picture!  She said I will always be her special Santa Claus. I hope that Katie stays that way also…”

I spent the Summer and Fall knowing that I had no plan for what we might do at Christmas.  Without saying it out loud, I hoped she would figure it out on her own.  While I didn’t want to rush the time away – I didn’t WANT to see it end – I just knew that the best option would be the one where we didn’t bring it up, she didn’t ask, and Santa just faded away.  Her memories – they had to stay intact, somehow.

2010

Of course, this didn’t happen.  As the countdown to Christmas began, she asked about going to see Santa.  We said we hadn’t heard where  he might be, but we’d keep listening.  With each day that she asked (and we bluffed), Lynda and I knew we were approaching a point of no return, getting higher and higher on this cliff with no way to turn back.  We had to do something – come up with some plan.

Before we could, Katie took matters into her own hands.  One night before bed she wrote a letter to her Elf on the Shelf, asking if when she visited the North Pole at night, she could ask Santa WHY he hadn’t come to visit.  She wrote, “Tell Santa I NEED to see him!  Seeing is BELIEVING!  I NEED TO BELIEVE!”

That night as I sat on my couch, I held her handwritten, desperate scrawl, and read it over, and over.   I sat and stared at my laptop for almost an hour, knowing that I had to find the right words – that ten years of Christmas, ten years of Santa, ten years of every magical childhood Christmas memory, would all be lost if we didn’t find a way to stretch time just a little bit longer.

I wrote a reply from the North Pole, delivered by her Elf on the Shelf (who, unlike so many others, isn’t just a Demi-Magical-Orwellian-Narc that spies and causes mayhem – we use ours as a courier for messages from time to time).

I wrote that Santa was busy – busier than he’d ever been, but there were plenty of Santa’s “helpers” all around – the ones you see at Malls, Parades, that sort of thing.  The note explained that Katie could head to one of those helpers, and even though it would be a just a helper Santa, she’d know it was for real because Santa would be sure to fill him in on her and Pupsters.

2011

I was able to write all of that because Lynda had gone to the Exton Mall earlier that day, waited in line by herself with all the Moms, Dads, and Kids, and met with Santa.  Lynda explained the story of Tom Leinbach, Katie, and Pupsters, and how we just needed one more time – one visit – before time caught up with us, and the hourglass ran out.   I didn’t ask her to do it, she just did it, as only a Mom can.

Santa understood.  He said, “Come back here tomorrow at 4:30.  I’ll make sure I take care of her.”

Lynda and I picked up Katie from school the next day, and told her that we were going to see one of Santa’s helpers.  She said, “Sure.  Sounds good.”  We drove up to the Mall, we walked through the door, and I will tell you that I felt like a Dead Man Walking.  None of it felt right.  It was a mall. But when you have only one play, it’s easy to commit, really.  I knew this was going one of two ways:

1. We save Christmas.

2. We go down in Flames, kid goes into therapy, we’re forever remembered as liars.

As we waited in a very short line, Santa looked up and saw Katie, saw Lynda, and flashed a twinkling smile.  He nodded, just a bit, and waved.

Katie took a step towards him, hesitated, then stopped.  She froze on the spot, and turned to look back at us.  I knew there was nothing we could say or do, other than brace to pick up the pieces of a heart that was clearly about to break into a million of them before our very eyes.  Lynda and I stood side by side, as Katie waved to us to come closer, as if she needed to say something, urgently.

“Is that Katie and Pupsters?”

We hadn’t been anywhere near Santa. We hadn’t talked to him.  But with that simple question, whatever Katie might have been thinking – whatever doubt had started to knock in the doors in her mind – whatever reality had surrounded her magical, childhood, castle walls, and was about to break it all down – it all departed, instantly.  “How could he know me?  How could he know Pupsters?”  We watched the gears turning – we watched her stand on the edge between doubt and believing – we watched her make her choice.

She pivoted, and walked towards Santa as he smiled and said, “He’s told me all about you both…come, have a seat.”

Lynda and I kept our distance, and exhaled.  We exhaled a lot.

As we walked out of the mall she said, “He knew Pupsters.  The only way he’d know is if Santa told him.  He has to have talked to him!”  There wasn’t much sand left in our hourglass, but as I looked at it in my imagination, there was enough left in there to make to at least December 27 or so.

2014 – The Last Time

She’s going to find out the truth, someday.  She’s probably going to know it sooner, rather than later.

But as we watched her talking to Santa’s helper, her face softening, her stare widening, and her smile glowing, we knew it wouldn’t be this day.  We knew she would find her way down from the heights of childhood magic and dreams on her own, gently, as it should be.

Katie will soon be walking down yet another path that every human walks – the route that takes one on their journey from childhood into whatever comes next.  It is not something that happens all at once; it’s a series of surrender – surrender of innocence, naiveté, hope – as time takes you from one age, to the next, and the next, and the next.  You’re often so busy as a parent that it’s easy to miss them – you find yourself wondering, “How did this time go by so quickly?”

As John Lennon famously wrote, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans…”

This year I was prepared to wave a white flag of surrender.  But thanks to some teamwork, some hope, and lots of luck, we turned that white flag one to mark the last lap of this race we’ve been in since the beginning.  We’ll get one more time around to put out the cookies and milk by the fireplace, one more time to lead Katie up to bed, reading her stories on Christmas Eve, one more time to believe that it really is all magical, and possible, and real.

May we all find something to believe in this Christmas.S

Santa’s Last Note.

Spin Cycle

The first thing I noticed as they came in was that most of the class was women. Actually, I was the only guy. I was also the only one wearing Lycra shorts and a sleeveless jersey. I was definitely the only one with loud yellow shoes, Look cleats, and no clue how to ride a spin bike.

Originally published in November 2002, my story of how with enough effort, bravado, and kinetic energy, you can accomplish something completely unexpected…

Last month after 8 weeks of paperwork, faxes, contracts, waivers, clearances, and a note from my doctor, I was able to complete the final bureaucratic hurdle between myself and something I’ve been after since May of 2001:  I was finally able to join my company gym.  There’d be no more cutting out to the YMCA mid-day, no more birdbaths post-run in the men’s room:  I could run downstairs during lunch, lift weights, run, shower, and get back to my desk with a mountainous salad and a few million endorphins running hot laps through the empty canyons of my mind.

Before I could lift a single weight, I had to go through a “Fitness Assessment” to be allowed to workout.  I was told that all members must go through this orientation workout so that Wyeth will know that said employee is actually (1) Alive, (2) Intending to stay that way, and (3) Capable of breathing in a safe manner.

I made th eappointment, certain that this would be a mere formality.  After all, my doctor had mentioned in his 8-page application and waiver that, “The applicant is an Ironman Triathlete™ and is in VERY GOOD SHAPE.”  He underlined it three times, which I thought was very nice of him.  What could the staff throw at me? 

Granted, when I’d taken my company physical before signing the contract, the company doctor pinched my stomach and simply said, “You’re fat.  Lose that gut.”  No measure of weight, no nothing – just a quick pinch and out the door he went.  I said to him, “I’m running a marathon on Saturday!” and he replied (without turning around), “Well, that’s a good start then!”

How much worse could it get then that?

(Aside: I talked to the nurse, most of my co-workers, and the HR department.  Every single employee in the history of this location is fat according to this doctor.  The score is 1,291 to 0 – so I don’t think I have to worry about his rapid-fire appraisal…even though I entertained myself with 24 witty replies on the way back to my desk).

The assessment started with the hardest test of all:  “Bob, could you step on that scale?”  Author Leo Buscaglia once said that no day is truly complete until you laugh and cry before going to bed.  I’ve found it’s best to get the crying over with early, so I take care of that by weighing in right out of bed.  Since I’d already reached for the Kleenex once, this was unexpected bonus despair. 

“196.5 pounds.  Hmm. You don’t look that heavy!”  The trainer was a real charmer.  Next, she reached for the body-comp calipers and started pinching. “You know what I’m doing now, right?”  I sure did.   She was getting ready to give me the worst news I’d heard since my first girlfriend had dumped me in High School for someone else by telling me, “I’m sorry, but he’s got a better car.”  

The trainer pinched, folded, measured, and re-did the same. Halfway through the second lap she asked, “So why aren’t you breathing?  You’ll be okay – really.”  I couldn’t help it.  Bad news was coming – I knew it.

“I’ll have the numbers run tomorrow, and we’ll go over them before your first workout.”  Great.  24 hours of unabated brooding over the sheer volume of my fat cells.  Bastards.  I’ll get you all, just you wait…

Next she had me get onto an old school, non-spin-class exercise bike.  “I want you to ride at 50 RPM for the next two minutes to warm up.”  50?  Warm-up? Oh, my.  What we have here is a situation.  I started to spin as slowly as I could, and the trainer raised an eyebrow at me.  “That’s about 75.  Slower, please.”  I couldn’t do it.  I simply couldn’t pedal that slowly.  My legs refused to answer the command, and we settled on 65 RPM as the middle ground.

After m ynon-warm-up-warm-up, she turned the tension knob up and watched me pedal while taking a blood pressure reading.  I continued to spin slow circles.  A minute passed, another turn.  I could feel tension in my legs and didn’t have to pretend I was actually pedaling, but it was hard for me not to look bored.

A minute would pass: Another reading, another turn. After 5 turns, I took my first real breath.  I wasn’t trying to be a problem, but I could tell that the bike was going to run out of tension before I ran out of leg.  Another turn, this one with both hands.  I could smell the brake pads starting to get warm.   Another blood pressure reading and I asked, “How is it?”  She corrected me, “It’s fine.  Concentrate.”  She grabbed the knob with both hands again, and exerted the kind of force usually reserved for Mason jars that have been sealed since last winter.   I was still trying not to smile.

The battle was at a crossroads – I was almost (but not quite) pedaling in squares, and I’d actually started to sweat.  However, the bike could give no more.  “Cool-down.”  She chirped, taking 7 full turns out of the tension.  It was a small victory, but that momentum wouldn’t last long.

“Sit here onthe floor, and put your feet against this box. When I tell you to go, I want you to stretch as far forward as you can with your legs flat on the floor.”

“Oh, am I screwed…” I thought  I don’t have hamstrings – I have bowstrings.  I mean, my hammies could be used to suspend roadbed over a river. They’re about as flexible as steel, my parents about curfew, and Spencer Smith’s belief that pink is not a measure of a man’s character.

I reached, and moved the measuring slide about ½”.  My fat cells giggled.  “Try again…” she said.  I did, and this time I moved it almost one full inch.  “One more!”  I reared back and charged forward from the waist up.  The slide moved almost TWO inches, but my stomach flab pushed back so hard when I maxed out that I nearly flew backwards from the recoil at the same time my butt came off the floor.  The net effect looks like I’ve farted with enough force to produce liftoff, but the slide tells the tale.

“Pushups!”  The trainer charged; “On the floor– give me as many as you can without stopping or pausing.  Ready? Go!”  I start slowly, knowing that if I rush it in the first few I’d never recover.  After 10 I didn’t feel so bad.  After 15, I did feel so bad.  After 18, I wasn’t sure 19 would be happening.  After 21, I paused at the top for a half-beat, and fell flat on my chest.  Would there be a moment to recover?  No way.

“Sit-ups!  You have 60 seconds.  These aren’t crunches; these are full-on sit-ups, so bring your hands over your knees with each one.  Ready, GO!”  As the first few ticked off, I remembered doing this test in High School.  I remember being so sore afterwards; I couldn’t move my torso away from the direction of my legs for three days.  I walked around like a cross between Batman, Frankenstein, and Fat Albert.  Because I was still reeling from the push-ups, I knew there would be be another week of looking around corners by bending at the ankles in my near-future.

45 seconds later, only my torso was getting off the ground. There was so much lactic acid in my abdominals; I swear I heard it filling my ears.  By 50 seconds, I was only lifting my head off the floor…and soon even my neck muscles crapped out.  I performed the last two sit-ups by succeeding in moving only my earlobes and thinking, “Holy cow – I never knew I could move my earlobes.”

“Great job.  See you tomorrow for the results.”  She said.  I was whipped. I was beaten.  Ironman, shmironman.  I couldn’t get off the damn floor.  If the building were to catch on fire, I’d have to be rolled out the door to safety. 

It was then that I learned that I would have a long way to go.

The next morning, reckoning came at 10:00am.  I watched the clock minute by minute like a defendant waiting for the jury to return.  At 9:59 I was in the office of the trainer, waiting for my report card.  She started off nicely:  “You’re VO2 Max is in the 99th percentile for your age – you measured at 55.7, very good!”  Good news!  Lisa Bentley happy dance for Bob!

“However…” she carried on.  Oh, how I HATE ‘however.’  That always means there’s irony afoot.  The happy dance in my head stopped.

“…You scored in the 50th percentile in flexibility, and your sit-up and push-up scores were in the middle as well.”  Well, that’s okay.  I can work on that, right?

“Your body fat…” she carried on, dropping her tone.  I stopped breathing.  My mind starts making guesses: 11%?  No shot.  30%?  Maybe.  What was I at 240 pounds –36%, right?  So now I must be what 15?  20? 25?  I can’t take the pressure!

“..is at 19%.”  The happy dancer in my head reached for a well-placed box of Kleenex, thereby completing her day.  

“You’re heavy, but you knew that.  All in all you’re in good shape for your age, and there’s a lot you can do here now, right?”  The trainer made the words, and I nod to them from my knees as much as I can, anyway.  My neck muscles were still functioning like swollen rubber bands from the fading sit-up test, and all I coiuld see was that number – 19%.  I was nearly 1/5th flubber. 

I was fat.  This made it official.  However (this is a good however, however), the end result of all this was that I now had full access to the gym:  Weights, treadmills, showers, all sorts of goodies – even classes!  As I went to leave for the day I noticed a sign-up sheet at the front desk: “SPIN CLASS – 30 Minutes, Wednesday.”  

My moping stopped.  I’d never done a spin class.  There were bikes available.  Why not start with something known?  I scribbled my name into a slot, and my mood improved immediately.

I asked a staff member, “Can I bring my own pedals?” He seemed surprised: “Sure!  You’d be the first to do that, but that’s allowed.” Excellent.  I unscrewed the pedals from Phoenicia that night, and packed a bag like a kid going to camp for the first time.  This was going to be great – better then riding alone, good music, and it’ll break up the day nicely.  Great!

The next day I was the big dork that showed up for class first.  I had my bike set up, and in true tri-geek form, I also had a measuring tape to get the saddle, bars, and pedal-seat lineup close to my road bike (scoring an 11 out of 10 on the Stableford Fredness Chart).  I filled my bottle, got on the saddle, and waited for everyone else to show up.

The first thing I noticed as they came in was that most of the class was women.  Actually, I was the only guy.  I was also the only one wearing Lycra shorts and a sleeveless jersey.  I was definitely the only one with loud yellow shoes, Look cleats, and no clue how to ride a spin bike.   For those of you that don’t know, a spin-bike is a special stationary bike with a 45-pound (~20 kilo) flywheel and a resistance knob.  You can turn the tension up or down to simulate climbing, sprinting, and anything else.  The classes are usually led by aerobics-type instructors with enough energy to tell you what to do, ride out what they’re telling you, AND yell at you all at the same time.

As our resident instructor told us, “Okay, lets get going…” I clipped in.  Her eyes spun my way and looked really closely at my feet.  “First class?”  She asked me. I nodded.  “Great!  Enjoy it!” After 30 seconds of easy spinning, she nailed us:  “Ready guys – SPRINT! GO! GO! GO!”

BOOM!  Just like a crit from my roadie days, we were off like a cow nailed on the @ss by a bottle rocket.  I had no resistance on my wheel yet, so I sat and spun like Marty Nothstein would (okay, about 40 RPM slower).  I was listening to her tell us to go, trying to catch up with the music, and wondering just how hard these next 30 minutes were going to be…

“STOP!  Good sprint – we’re off!”  She said. Like a good roadie finishing a sprint, I set the cranks to 3 and 9 and mock-threw the bike to end the interval…

…which was a remarkably stupid thing to do with a 45-pound flywheel hurtling around at 29 miles per hour.  

My left foot snapped out first as the pedal simply whipped out from the cleat, leaving my foot dangling in space like Wile E. Coyote when he’s missed the turn. 

My right foot was driven upwards, and without anything holding back from the left, I began the usual slow-motion thought process that only comes out for the very big crashes.  My body slammed forward and downward onto the handlebars, causing the bike to lift its rear-end about 10” off the floor.  Did I mention that on the front of these bikes there are little rollers to help you move them into place before class?

For the first time in recorded history, these rollers now took an active part DURING a class as I performed an unrehearsed, one-legged-nose-wheelie forwards, thinking to myself, “So help me God, I’m really going to crash a stationary bike.”

“And I don’t have a helmet!”

In a blink the back of the bike slammed downward, and the skidding stopped.  I’d only moved about a foot forward, but I was sitting there still pedaling with my right leg while my left leg was just stuck out into space.  The instructors eyes were wide open, and she’d spun her head so fast towards my personal train wreck that she’d wrapped her headset 2 ½ times around her neck.  The woman directly across from me opened her eyes a few seconds later, thankful that she wouldn’t have to explain a head-on collision that involved two non-moving bicycles to her insurance company.

I clipped back in, pedaled up to speed, and made a mental note about the important safety tip: N-E-V-E-R stop while at speed on one of these things.  I thought to myself, “What would Lance Armstrong do if he’d screwed up like this?  I know – he’d take a drink and act cool.”

I reached for my bottle.  Pity that the launch and landing had popped the top about halfway off. As I went to open the nozzle with my teeth I proceeded to dumped most of my water down my face, which then cascaded down my torso, and then all over my bike.  I created an instant lake on the floor, but at least instead of looking cool?  I WAS cool.

I waved at everyone still staring and said, “Hi. How are ya?  I used to race bikes, you know.”  The water dripping down and warping the hardwood floor quietly underscored my coolness. The class was three minutes old and I’d already had a near wreck, created a flood, and blasted through my AT.  Not too bad, really.   I’d gotten all the mistakes over and done with in the first class.

Following the dramatics of my debut, things did get better.  After my second class, I’d learned to rid ethe bike without being a danger to myself or others.  By the third the instructors started to let me go in early (and stay late) to get in more mileage.  I’ve even become known as, “That triathlon guy” because I’ve started to sign up for back-to-back classes when they have them so I can get in 90 minutes.  They think that’s insane.  They don’t know me yet.

Speaking of insane, there’s a new Pilates class next week I’m thinking about trying. Yes, I’ve heard that it’s like a cross between Yoga and Medieval Torture, but at least there aren’t any moving parts involved to start with, right?  Even I can’t crash a Yoga mat…I think.

The battle is on.  I’m at 199 pounds at the moment, but I’ve got lots of new weapons here. Assuming I survive the next few wintry months, my fat cells won’t know what hit them. 

Charge!