Last week I finally got around to having that psychotic break I’ve been putting off. I left the serenity of home on the day after Thanksgiving and inexplicably ventured onto the apocalyptic battlefield of Black Friday commerce. I’ve never done that before. The news reports of human stampedes, girl-brawls, and venomous reptile attacks had always kept me out of the dreaded vendredi noir marketplace.
What happened this year?
Thanksgiving happened. The Mrs. and I had decided that we would forego the traditional holiday feast at home and instead volunteer to deliver meals for the
Community Dinner. She figured it would be a meaningful way to teach our children about being grateful to God for His manifold blessings. She was right.
It was a blessed occasion, rife with the joys of seeing old friends, making new ones, and bringing delicious turkey dinners to senior citizens. We were put in charge of delivering to Costello Terrace, and I want to assure the residents there that they can rest easy as far as building security is concerned: There is perhaps no more impenetrable structure on earth. The intercom system so thoroughly baffled us that we were about to squish some cranberry sauce under the door, yell “Soup’s on!” and call it good. Thankfully, we eventually cracked the code and were able to deliver the meals. After that, it was back to headquarters at the American Legion for our own repast.
The strain of breaching the palisades and fording the moat at the impregnable Fortress Costello had left me famished. By the time we reached the Legion, I light-heartedly announced that I was hungrier than a Uruguayan rugby player after a plane crash in the Andes. The Mrs. did a quick head-count to make sure I hadn’t devoured any of the children. I assured her they were safe.
Once inside, we enjoyed warm fellowship and as fine a Thanksgiving meal as I’ve ever had anywhere. It left me full as a tick, but the question remains: How does this explain my insane foray into the maelstrom of merchantry that is Black Friday? It’s simple, really: Since I was dining in public, I was too self-conscious to eat as I would have eaten in a more private setting. My plate had been heaped with extravagant portions, mind you – enough chow to satisfy any two grown men. But when I sit down to Thanksgiving dinner at my own table, I typically eat enough to satisfy any five
Vikings and a Visigoth. When observing the occasion with only my closest family members, I’m at liberty to unbutton and, if necessary, to remove my trousers to “make room” for that fourth dessert. In the casual seclusion of the homestead, “etiquette” boils down to daintily extending a pinky finger while drinking directly from the gravy boat. Though frowned upon in mixed company, it is time-honored traditions like these that induce the deep coma food paralysis that always keeps me off the streets on Viernes Negro; deprived of them this year, I was trapped.
You see, my twelve-year-old daughter Gracie had earned herself a cell phone. Our carrier was having a big Black Friday sale, expertly designed to lure fearful little customers out of post-Thanksgiving hidey-holes. What could I have done? The kid doesn’t ask for much, the transaction was going to cost me nothing, and for the first time in recorded history, I had failed to cripple myself with turkey and pie the day before. I had no excuse.
Our cellular phone provider has two stores in town. The queue at the first one we visited looked like a Soviet bread line during the Stalin years. We dashed to the other location which, to my delirious delight, had no line whatsoever! Sadly, our high-fiving hilarity met a retail derail: Their computers were down.
The Mrs. and I tried again Friday night. All computers were functioning, but by then Monmouth’s streets were clogged with two serpentine lines of tired, poor, huddled masses, yearning to buy cell phones. I considered taking temporary residence in one of the refugee shantytowns that had sprung up, but a Red Cross staffer told me I would have to be deloused and vaccinated first.
Captain Ahab had his white whale, and I have my Black Friday. But in the final analysis, I’m still a dad who tries to keep his promises. Gracie received her cell phone the next day.
It’s not exactly a Blackberry or an iPhone, but I did pull a few strings to get her a designer “Andy Warhol” model. And speaking of string, as long as she keeps it pulled tight while pressing the can against her ear, the sound quality is outstanding.