THAT may be crossed off the bucket list with permanent ink, please. WOAH. I have always been up north for Thanksgiving, and "Black Friday" up there is actually called "Starry, Starry Night." It all makes sense to me now. "Starry, Starry Night" is just that: star-filled, and snowy, and each quaint Grand Marais shop has Christmas music, free refreshments and delectable hors 'd oeuvres, one-of-a-kind gifts, and jovial conversations. It is all incredibly cozy and heartwarming. This is absolutely opposite of what I experienced last night. Night-and-day, hot-and-cold opposite.
ENTER... BLACK FRIDAY...
I'm on the side that believes "Black Friday" was dubbed that way not because of the black ink profitability of it all, but because that is the color of most souls pushing and shoving all around the stores. Okay. Maybe that was harsh. How about the black and tarnished side of people is more obvious on this day? All of these years I have been wondering what it would be like to score these huge deals...how exciting it would be! It was not. Well, there was excitement...just not the good kind.
I got to Toys R Us at 9:25 last night. The boys were fast asleep with turkey grins plastered on their faces. The doors opened at 10. When I saw the line outside I thought, This isn't too bad. Then they started letting ten people in at a time. As the line inched along in a snail slither, I finally got to the corner of the store. The line wrapped BEHIND the building. Behind. I clutched my hopeful wishlist and wondered if it was worth it since I could no longer feel my feet, let alone my toes. I had visions of Christmas morning: As the kids tore into their gifts, my toe-less feet would be perched atop an ottoman and my raspy voice that was destroyed by the cold of this night would croak out, "I hope you like it." But I am stubborn, and I am curious. That trumped the need for toes.
I finally got in the door at 11:15 (almost two hours in the freezing cold). Then, I was pushed around like a ragdoll. I went for a cart, but a crafty lady with a shirt that said, "OUT OF MY WAY, IT'S BLACK FRIDAY!" tore it out of my hands. I am not lying. She really had that shirt, and she really did rip it out of my hands. Once I got over my initial shock, I turned for another cart. They were all gone. I was going in alone and without the armor/protection of a metal wheeled beast. I only got pushed down once by a mom who had to have some doll that peed. I was merely in the way. I was not going to buy it. By the look she gave me, you would have thought I was about to snag her daughter and make a run for it. Woah. I am not a fan of crazy eyes and they were E V E R Y W H E R E !
I ended up scoring SEVEN things from my list. All of them were at least half off the regular price, and I felt a small smile of accomplishment start to form. Once I got in the checkout line (which zigzagged from the back of the store to the front, I thought: I MADE IT! I DID IT! It wasn't that horrific!
I should have looked awhile longer, but without a cart, I was a towering, teetering and unstable danger to all around me. As I kicked a few things, and awkwardly cradled the rest, I got behind the ex-wife of Earl from the show "My Name is Earl." She is the character played by Jaime Pressly. Whoever dreamt that character up, KNEW the woman in front of me. Oh. My. Gosh. I thought my nightmare was over once I was in the check-out line, but I was dead wrong. I know I have a sign on my face that says, "DOORMAT," but it got ridiculous. She was sweet and talkative at first, and then she said, "Would you mind watching my cart? I forgot something." As I peered behind awkward boxes in my arms, a muffled, "Sure," was murmured. Off she went! For a LONG time. I had to kick her cart with my foot all while having my arms full of STUFF. Boxes kept falling. I had to put down my pile to maneuver her cart and then go back for my stuff.
When she came back fifteen minutes later, I was relieved. I was starting to feel anger bubble up in me. I knew she arrived back to her cart because she was mindlessly plowing people over and smacking them with the corners of her boxes. I thought that was it, but then she kept disappearing over and over without saying anything. It was like my "Sure" from an hour ago still stood as our spoken contract/pledge. Over and over and over again I found myself having to move her cart all while being some supernatural-balance-freak at the same time. Honestly, it was ridiculous. I should have left her cart and walked around it, but the truth is: I was afraid... On one of her rare appearances, she told me how she almost got in a fight with some girl outside who wouldn't let her back in HER spot. Her story was peppered with obscenities. I believed she would have pummeled me, and honestly: I was tired. I would have balled up in a fetal position and just let her go. I think she meant it as a threat. So, I kept maneuvering her cart with my foot and repeated to myself, "It'll be over soon. It'll be over soon."
"Soon" came two hours later. At least this line was inside the store. I had done it! It was over. All of my gifts were put in one ginormous bag. The bag ripped as soon as I walked outside. My car was in the very last row in the very far corner of the lot. I wish I was making this up. There were STILL no carts around. So, I did my crazy balance act one last time as the finale to my night. TA-DAAAAA! Once I sat in the seat, I realized it was not worth it. It would have been if I had my iflip. I could have entertained myself video recording the craziness around me. But I pledged to myself, "NEVER AGAIN!"
So, I am hoping Gideon will be healthy enough for us to resume our up north Thanksgiving tradition next year. I will never BLACK FRIDAY it up again. I'm over it. I don't even like to shop, to be honest. I just wanted to make this Christmas a little bigger than those in the past, and Black Friday was a means to an end. Gideon did well with the shot in the leg at home, but he is still sick of it. Thankfully, he listened to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and wants Santa to catch him being good and brave. Before his shot, I yelled out, "LOOK, Santa! Look at how brave Gideon is behaving!" Even behind Gideon's tears there was a little glimmer of a proud smile. Yes, I'm thankful Christmas is on its way (and that BLACK FRIDAY is in my past).