It was time to lose my Black Friday virginity. I had heard about this mega shopping day for years, but had always been saving myself for Cyber Monday. Like any big milestone in your life this one required a fetching outfit. I was torn between going “cute and comfortable” or “battlefield ready.” After much research battlefield ready won out. I put on the new pair of Target track pants I had just treated myself to, a long sleeve Nike outlet top, my “dress” tennis shoes and yanked my hair back into a no-nonsense pony tail.
The piece de la resistance of this ensemble was a fanny pack. What’s that you say – a freaking fanny pack? Well, to be specific it was more of a tummy pack since I wore it facing forward and before you go all Fashion Police on me please note that my diligent research pointed out that I could get trampled, assaulted and/or robbed. I figured my battlefield ready outfit needed to be hands free. I didn’t want to worry about a purse sliding off my shoulder or worse a deranged shopper, hopped up on their 10th Starbucks full caf – mocha something or other, strangling me with my handbag straps. Besides, I’m a confident, middle-aged woman who knows how to work a fanny pack. Some would call it a skill. I call it a gift.
After getting dressed I did a few deep knee bends and practiced some self-defense moves I learned 3 years ago. I thought the eye gouge would be especially useful if I found myself in the crossfire of an X Box rampage. After that I reviewed my itinerary which wasn’t picked for the best deals, but to maximize my people watching. I wasn’t going to shop. I was going for a freak show and if I was sacrificing my much-needed beauty sleep and rejuvenating overnight triple Retina-A facial cream with miracle beads then by God this adventure better deliver freaks and them some.
Thanks to input from friends I left my house at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night and headed for Best Buy. My goal was to check out the line and chat up a few of the folks that abandoned turkey and mashed potatoes for the privilege of being one of the first to walk into the hallowed electronic halls of Best Buy. This is where I learned a very valuable lesson. Approach the front of any Black Friday line with extreme caution. The people who have been camped out in line for more than 24 hours are suffering from some sort of battle fatigue psychotic paranoia. When they see you walking towards them they immediately think you are trying to cut in line and they can and will harm you.
I just wanted to ask these discount die hards a few questions but as I got closer to them they started shouting, “Go to the back of the line!” or my favorite, “Get your F’ing ass to the F’ing back of the F’ing line.” At first I was scared and then I thought I was probably safe from any kind of beat down because no one would dare give up their place in line to punch me out. I stayed about four arms length away and yelled back, “I’m not here to shop. I’m a reporter doing a story on Black Friday. I write for the “I Saved More Money Than You!” website. That calmed them down and they let me approach their clan of extreme bargain hunters. I walked up very slowly, like I was trying to pet a feral cat, to make sure everyone was okay with me getting near the front. One shopper asked for press I.D. I quickly said, “I wish. You think a website called “I Saved More Money Than You” is going to waste money on business cards. Yeah, that’s a great big no.” My response seemed to placate them and before they started googling my made up website I quickly began asking questions.
The first four people in line were all related. The Best Buy camp out was a family tradition. This year it was all about the TV bigger than your garage door. These fine folks in an attempt to save in the mid 3 figures on a T.V. were making the ultimate sacrifice in my book. No, I’m not talking about missing out on a holiday dedicated to eating with unbridled passion, but using a 44 ounce Quick Trip cup as their bathroom. I got to witness this first hand. A 20 something woman in the clan relieved herself in my presence. Her aunt held up a blanket to give her some urinary privacy. Right about now I’m thinking the cold may have affected the older woman’s spatial reasoning skills because the blanket was positioned in a way that only provided butt coverage. Huh? This chick was going number 1 not 2. I got an unobstructed view of the woman peeing and it was something to behold. That’s right – I watched. I couldn’t look away because this young woman was muy talented. If peeing in a cup was an artistic form of expression than she was Picasso. She barely lowered her pants yet managed to shove a 44 ounce cup into her tinkle zone and without assuming even the tiniest squat position she filled that cup with a fluid grace. She also was able to remove said cup without any discernible sign of spatter. Talk about precision peeing with zero splash zone. I was impressed and asked, “How did you learn to do that, so well?”
She said, “Lots of practice. You should have seen me at the I Phone 4S camp out. I crapped in a cup and you could barely tell I was doing it.” Now, I was feeling really uncomfortable, like I had crossed the line from TMI to CVS (Could Vomit Soon) and needed to leave the classy environs of Best Buy to head to my next destination.
I’m not lying when I tell you I was more than a little afraid of where I was going next. I was venturing into the belly of the beast and I didn’t know if I was woman enough to handle it. I have survived many treacherous moments in the my life up to and including; the infamous Kappa sorority rush party of 1987 where a stampede of wannabe Kappas hyped up on pixie sticks and shots of Coffee Mate Peppermint Mocha Creamer morphed into a concussion tornado, bested two women for the deluxe labor and delivery suite in the hospital while 7 cmm dilated and chaperoned 6th grade snow survival day where I was “accidently” buried alive in a snow cave and had to claw my way out. (No worries, I got those damn kids back. I told them we were being chased by a family of rabid bears.) I hoped those experiences had prepared me because Wal-Mart here I come.
Keep reading and check out Black Friday part 2, 3, and 4.
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