I woke around 5-ish, in a dark room that smelled like apples and cinnamon (thanks to Glade plug-ins) and felt like home – good thing, considering it was home. I stretched out luxuriously and puffed my pillow beneath my neck. I was plenty warm, but for added comfort I reached down and turned on my heating blanket (yes, my hubby was tired of my icicle feet). I spent a few seconds thinking about the things in my life that were going well and the blessings I had received yesterday, on the only day appropriated in this society to give thanks. Blinking a few times and thinking about the coffeemaker, I realized that exactly one year ago today (down to the minute) I was standing outside in icy, harsh 19 degree weather. I was freezing, my husband was freezing, but we were going to be those people. Those hard-core, I-love-my-kids-so-much-that-I’ll-wait-for-hours-in-the-freezing-cold-to-get-them-what-they-want, pushing, yelling, frugal parents. Neither of us had ever experienced the magical feeling of shopping on Black Friday, so we decided in advance to have the little munchkins stay over at a friend’s house so we could wake at 4 am and become true members of society. There we were, showered and shiny with the pink thrill of excitement fresh on our cheeks. My caramel macchiato (with extra caramel, of course) was doing it’s best to warm my hand, but that wasn’t really it’s job. The job was to wake me and comfort me as I walked through the stores, creating a warm feeling of relaxation with every pleasant sip. Once I was happy with the creaminess, by default I would be okay with dropping huge amounts of (hubby’s) hard-earned money (obviously I’m not the only one that feels this way, otherwise they would have never thought to put Starbucks in the grocery stores). We waited for what seemed like forever, watching all the other real people rub their arms and breathe into scarves (wusses). We, being so much better than everyone else, gossiped about our comrades, making up stories and imagining what their lives were like (though we agreed ours was better!). After what seemed like forever, finally the pearly gates opened and we were awash in the brilliantly warm basking glow of . . . Walmart.
Yes, Walmart. Some say it’s the saving grace of the middle-class American. I say, “Amen to that, sister!” Where else can you go to buy tampons, steak, golf balls and the aforementioned air fresheners all at the same time and spend only $15.00? Personally, Walmart is the first place I look for anything. My motto? If Walmart doesn’t have it, I don’t need it. Okay, that’s an extremist’s motto, but really. Have you ever not found something at Walmart? That being said, there we were, watching what seemed like a movie – people everywhere, running, yelling, pushing to get the carts. Screams of triumph and groans of disappointment were abound, bickering old ladies and crotchety old men were present in surprisingly large numbers. After finding an empty cart sitting alone in an aisle (I apologize if this was actually someone else’s cart!), we attempted to make our way to the electronics department. Ha. There was a line almost to the front of the store full of people holding the electronics ads. At one point, my manly husband yelled, “I’m going in! If I’m not out in five minutes, tell the kids I love them!” and dashed through the carts and people like a Commando superstar. Exactly one minute later he was back empty-handed. He had even lost his ad. His shoulders were drooping, his face had lost nearly all of the pretty pinkness that screamed “CHRISTMAS!” and he was clenching his fists. “Where’s the DS?” I asked. I was not yet seasoned enough to understand that when the sale started at 5, all the items were gone by 5:01. Silly me. We walked around a bit, looking for anything else we could conceivably pass off to our offspring as a great gift, but the people were plentiful, the stock was, well, not, and the amount of physical contact I had to endure was almost pushing me over the edge (reminding me of a fantastic Dave story, a mud concert and monkeys on the walls. More on that some other day!). Well, I thought, there is a Target right next door. Maybe we’ll have better luck there. Silly me.
Target was the same as Walmart, except the smells of the perfumed ladies were more Macy’s than Marshall’s. We quickly grabbed a cart and split up this time (talk about quick studies!). He, of course, went to the electronics and I went to the clothing department, looking for more clothes that may actually fit the beautiful little (ahem) tumbleweed we call Juliet. All of a sudden, in the middle of me trying to get past a cart full of stuff (thanks for strengthening the economy lady!), I saw Hubby’s brilliantly happy face. He was running to me in slow-motion, holding up a pink box in one hand and a black one in the other (I like to picture Rocky Balboa here – Yo, Adrian!). His smile was so wide, I had to look away in order to retain function in my retinas. He proudly dropped his baubles into the cart, and with a huge sigh of relief he said, “We got ‘em!” Just then we overheard a conversation between two women about their goods being stolen out of their cart. Apparently they left the cart with the plasma TV unattended and someone swiped it right out of their cart. The other woman said she heard that was happening all over the store and there may actually be a revolt. Time to go.
There is a moral to this story, believe it or not. The moral is, when you wake up on Black Friday in a warm bed with clean sheets, and the house is still (save for the creaking of the heat), do not think for one second that you would be better off shopping - unless, of course, you firmly believe in the power of positive thinking and already have an agreement with the Higher Power that you will, in fact, be a better person for the rest of the year if He could just guarantee you this one request. That is why, at 6 am on Black Friday, I am sitting in front of my computer wearing woolen socks, a woolen sweater and woolen undies (I wish!) with a steaming cup of hazelnut coffee in one hand and a whiny, though cuddly, four-year-old in the other. I used up all my requests this year. I will pass the power onto someone else and shop like a normal person tomorrow.