In the toy aisle on a Wednesday I ran into Lauren, a good friend I haven’t seen since July. We hugged and said our hellos. I asked her if she wanted to shop with me on Black Friday. She said she had already finished her holiday shopping, but she thought we could check out the sales Thursday night.
“Oh no,” I said. “I’m not supporting that.” I sounded stern and decisive, things I’m not—usually. I thought getting up early on a Friday morning was crazy enough. I didn’t want to support Thanksgiving shopping, too. Isn’t it all right to have one day a year where stores stay closed?
My kids were busy taking toys off the shelves and asking me to buy this or that. One kid wondered out of sight to the next aisle. Another put the latest Equestria girl doll into the cart. And between me re-directing my kiddos, Lauren told me the exciting news about the TV she found online through a Black Friday sale. She got free shipping. She saved $400.
After she left, I tore the toys out of my kids’ hands and finished shopping for toothpaste and garbage bags. Boring, necessary stuff. I thought, damn, we need a new TV, too. One that we could proudly display during a Superbowl party. We’d been watching our 32 inch JVC (weighing in at 100 pounds) since 2000. We were due for an update.
The next day, a Thursday, while sitting on the couch in my in-laws’ living room and full from our feast of turkey and stuffing, my husband and I flipped through the Black Friday ads. Michael had been imprinted with Lauren’s story, too. His itch for a new TV was stronger than mine. He perused those ads on a mission and found a 55 inch smart flat screen for $797 at Wal-Mart. It went on sale at 8 p.m. that night. I told him he could go take a look if he wanted.
I’m normally not a competitive person, nor am I planner or a shopper who hunts for bargains. I’ve shopped Black Friday twice. Once with my husband just so I could say I did it. And once with Lauren, just to enjoy her company. That’s why I was surprised when Michael said he wanted me to go. I would do better among the crowds, he said. And I would elbow my way through the muck better than him. I thought, do I really have what it takes to muster through a crowd of hard core holiday shoppers?
Later, when we were at home, we measured various spaces for the new TV, trying to decide how we’d rearrange the furniture to accommodate a bigger screen. It occurred to me that the stores were going to be open whether I shopped or not. It also occurred to me that there would be another deal another day. We didn’t have to buy a TV that day. Our Thanksgiving had been good, a nice afternoon with Michael’s mom and dad and our daughters. Our evening at home would be just like every other night.
But all of that is most likely why when Michael said, “Why don’t you go, and I’ll put the girls to bed” I couldn’t get out the door fast enough. Having a night away from the tedium of picking up toys and making sure teeth were brushed and negotiating books to read sounded so much better than keeping any silly promise to myself. It even seemed worth pushing my way through a crowd and waiting in a long line to check out. I’d be shopping solo and could read a magazine while I waited. What joy! I felt giddy, as if I were going out to meet good friends like Lauren.
I freshened my lipstick, put on my boots, grabbed my purse. I started the van. I turned the music up loud and sang my way to Wal-Mart, hoping my pursuit would make Michael proud.