“You are not awake today. Too much study, yes?”
That’s when the bell rang. I wish I could have been a better lunch companion for Simone. She didn’t mind. She’s always nice. She never complains. I could learn to be more like that. Here she is about a million gazillion miles from home. She doesn’t whine about what she is missing, like I know I would. She instead focuses on the good parts of what is happening in her life. She had turned the conversation away from her and asked about me. What was the question again? Do I like Christmas? Yeah, I do. Who doesn’t? It’s not until I get home that I wonder if Simone’s real question meant if I like Christmas in general or if I like how my family does Christmas. That could be a different answer.
If I like Christmas because of all the extra commotion of finding the perfect present for everyone, the answer would be a loud Not A Fat Chance. It isn’t the buying of presents that is bothersome, it’s the shopping part. Our family isn’t much on buying excursions. Even though Mom writes for catalogs she isn’t a shopper, and I never have any money, and Dad? I’m not sure how he feels about shopping. Groceries, yes, he likes grocery shopping. Regular shopping. I haven’t a clue.
Considering how shopping isn’t our thing, it would be surprising to learn Mom and I attempted Black Friday. That’s right, we jumped right in and started off the Christmas season with the growing tradition of credit card stampeding. I got to thinking and wondered why the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday? So I Googled it.
Black Friday originally referred to some economic panic caused by a couple of guys back in 1869, who were trying to make it rich through gold buying. Word got out and people quickly began selling and trading and an economic panic developed. Another source said the term came from how badly the traffic jammed up due to the post Thanksgiving shoppers and how the Philadelphia police dreaded the headaches the traffic caused. I don’t know why those two reasons would make it “black.” Maybe the black part is supposed to mean “bad,” because black is a “bad” color.
The other reason I found makes the most sense. Up until the Thanksgiving sales most retailers operate in the red, meaning a loss. I guess accountants used to mark any losses in red ink, and profits would get placed in the ledger books in black ink. Thanksgiving sales help businesses get their books back into the black. I used to think Black Friday had to do with a national day of mourning or something, like a president had died. It’s weird how ideas get stuck in our heads as little kids.
I think Mom wants to go because she wants a break from her writing and wants some kind of reward for hitting her deadline earlier than expected. Plus, I think she’s rather pleased how well Thanksgiving dinner turned out, even though it was really Dad who saved the day. We asked if Dad wanted to go with us and experience Black Friday Madness. His reply?
“Let’s see, jostle elbows, push, pull, and scramble for bargains amidst frenzied consumers or stretch out on the couch and channel surf?”
That being said with a grin, we left him to the couch, remote in hand.
Black Friday Retrospect:
Going at 10 am versus 5 am meant less deals and definitely lessened the impact of shopping mania. We contemplated avoiding the huge stores like Wal-Mart and Target, and then Mom decided if we were going to experience Black Friday to its fullest we should take the plunge and go to the mall. When I wavered in my commitment she promised lunch.
On the way to our great shopping adventure I almost broke down and told Mom about my NaNo thing. I feel like I am keeping some deep secret from my parents, like I’m sneaking around doing something I shouldn’t. I know they would absolutely be thrilled about –big italics here–trying to write a novel.
The real reason of not telling them about what I’m doing is that this project has become too personal. Instead of a novel it’s become more of a journal and there is stuff about them in there as well. It’s kind of an empty victory (that is if I really do make the word count by Friday) since I won’t be letting anyone read what I’ve written. I almost wish I had tried writing an actual novel instead. Second thought, I know I wouldn’t have gotten very far with that idea. I started reading what I wrote that one late night/early morning and stopped. Nope, Alas in Wonderland? what was I thinking?
Writing about what is going on in my life has been easy because it’s really happening to me. Verisimilitude. Real. Not every girl has a vampire for a boyfriend. I don’t even have anything close to a boyfriend. Only visions of Eddie to keep me company.
Further Black Friday Retrospect:
Black Friday is not for sissies. Even at 10 am the shopping sharks still prowled the town. After seven passes in the mall parking lot Mom found a space far enough away to qualify for our cardio workout for the day.
“Do you really want to do this?” she asked me.
“You’re the one who asked me!“
“Come on, then. Now or never. Do or die.“ Her attitude made me feel like we were going bungie jumping instead creasing her credit card.
Bravely on we ventured into the mall.
I think we would have done better with a definite plan in mind. We were swept in with the flow of shoppers like tuna caught in a swift current. Sporadically a few shoppers would veer into a store. Relying on Mom to set the agenda wasn’t working out so I tugged on her arm and pulled her into the first store on our right. Victoria’s Secret. We both began giggling. She pulled on my arm to leave and I convinced her to look around. Laughably there were almost more guys than ladies milling around. I almost cam-photoed Mom’s face, she was so embarrassed by some of the merchandise.
“Come on, Mom, buy something,” I teased her.
“Where would I wear it?”
“Mom, the idea is that it is underwear. No one knows you are wearing except you.”
That hadn’t registered with her and then I think she liked the idea the more she walked around looking at all the selections.
“I’m so practical, I couldn’t buy one of these,” Mom picked up a frothy bit of satin and lace from a display, “things. But why not. I’m worth it, aren’t I?”
We spent at least an hour in the store. I convinced Mom to go into a dressing room. She finally ended up with a bra that she said cost her more than the recent paycheck she got in the mail. She is not used to “extravagance” as she called it. She lives in her jeans and t-shirts with zip up hoodies and I know she buys her six-pack Fruit of the Looms underwear from Target.
She offered to buy me something and I said I would pass. For one reason I would feel way too self-conscious. I envision walking down the hall and everyone would know I am wearing a Victoria Secret underthing. Like it would light up or x-ray show and tell.
Fulfilling our fill of frills we ventured out again. We made it past the See’s corner candy store without caving in to the taunts of chocolates. Mom wanted to hit Penney’s.
“There is always something at Penney’s to find.”
And we did just that. We each found sweaters, Mom got Dad a scarf, and I bought him leather driving gloves. Actually Mom bought them and I would have to pay her back. Penney’s was packed out. We didn’t even bother with trying on the sweaters; instead we stood twenty minutes in line waiting to pay for our Black Friday Booty.
Afterwards Mom looked at me. “Lunch?”
I nodded. We ducked into the mall Chili’s and waited in line. No seats were available they were so busy. After about twenty-five minutes we got a booth. We ordered, snacked on chips and sipped on our raspberry lemonades, and Mom let out a giggle. I widened my eyes, Mom was losing it.
“We’re lightweights. Out and out lightweights. This Black Friday thing is more than what I imagined it to be. What about you? Eat lunch and go home?”
“Remember, this was your idea in the first place.”
“I’m exhausted. I don’t know how people do this, and some of them got up before 4 am to get the bigger deals.”
We didn’t talk much during lunch. Mom said I could drive home if I wanted to, but I passed. The traffic in the mall lot was too intimidating for anyone but a seasoned driver. I think we could have sold our parking space. I could see things were going to get nasty when one car saw us pulling out and stationed itself to wait, disregarding the car in the opposite direction which had already claimed the spot by putting on its blinker.
“Maybe I should pull back in and like we only adjusting our spot.”
Mom has an odd sense of humor sometimes.
We arrived home and Dad made a point of getting off the couch as if he hadn’t been asleep.
“Faker!” Mom laughed at him. “Quick, what’s the score. Better yet, who is even playing?”
“Umm, I dozed off during the commercial. Let me get back to you on those questions. You ladies get your fill of consumerism?”
We related all our adventures, and when Dad saw the Victoria Secrets bag he twitched an eyebrow up. I left the room.
- Early start takes edge off Black Friday (kansascity.com)
- Why Black Friday shoppers endure the crush (cnn.com)
- 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites Black Friday weekend (fox6now.com)
- ComScore: Black Friday e-commerce passes $1 billion (electronista.com)