Observations from a Black Friday Shopping Trip

I’m not a fan of retail hysteria in general. Although there are a couple of items that I’ll be hunting for this holiday season, you won’t find me standing in line, waiting for a store to open. I’m just not that good of a parent. Sure, my kids deserve that gift, but I deserve to sleep in, stay warm and avoid crowds.

So Black Friday isn’t really my thing. Although last year I did score a couple of gaming chairs on Black Friday, and when my oldest daughter was still in diapers we scored a bunch of packages of diapers for fifty cents a piece because they rang up the wrong price and the cashier told us the computer must be right.

I guess Black Friday’s not all bad.

Still, I have no Black Friday shopping tradition, and more likely than not you’ll find me at home eating leftovers and watching Food Network instead of battling thousands of well-intentioned maniacs.

But this year my youngest son wanted to go shopping. And even after I explained to him that he couldn’t spend any money, he still wanted to “check it out.”

We missed most of the madness since we didn’t go out until 7:30 in the evening. Everything seemed pretty well picked through, and since we weren’t looking for anything in particular I didn’t have throw any elbows or push down any old ladies. (Sorry Grandma, I’ve never seen a fifty-five inch that cheap.)

We had a more leisurely experience, which allowed me to make a few observations that don’t involve the jerkiness of my fellow shopper, or the lengths some people will go to in order to get their hands on the latest electronic.

The first piece of Black Friday ridiculousness that we saw involved Darth Vader. Target had a special on a three-foot-tall Darth Vader Battle Buddy. This looks like it’d be a pretty awesome gift for a kid who’s into Star Wars and wants to go mano a mano with the Masked One.

But I have to say, seeing 48 Darth Vaders lined up in a main aisle in Target gave off a sort of zombie apocalypse feeling. It wouldn’t have surprised me one bit if those things came to life and took over the story. Sort of the sci-fi version of Chuckie from Child’s Play. If those four-dozen Darth Vaders came to life and went made we’d sure regret giving them all light sabers.

One of the stores had a couple of massage chairs setup, and also had handheld massagers open and plugged in for customers to try. I turned on one of the Homedics brand of massagers and rubbed it on my son’s back. He voice vibrated as he spoke, which sounded cool, but I felt the vibrations from holding the massager all the way up arm. Should I feel like I’ve just operated a jackhammer after holding one of those things?

And then my son rubbed it on my back, and after about thirty seconds I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. A minute or two later, as we walked away, I felt phantom vibrations in my back, and then a sudden queasiness in my stomach. My son felt the same thing at almost the exact time. I know the whole point of the massager is to relax muscles, but I doubt the intention is to relax muscles so it’s easier when you vomit. I had to stop walking for a minute and let the feeling pass.

Don’t buy the Homedics massager, unless you like the feeling of almost puking.

America’s great, and our economy’s great, and whatever, but, for the love of God, sometimes we just have too many choices. This occurs to me all the time, but usually in the cereal aisle, or the toilet paper aisle, or when I’m trying to decide which candy bar to buy.

But tonight, as we walked through the housewares section, I couldn’t help but wonder, does the world really need a dozen different types of Keurig coffee makers? Is there enough of a difference between a 70-ounce reservoir and an 80-ounce reservoir to warrant an entirely different model? Surely the presence of a nightlight on the 80-ounce model isn’t enough of a justification, is it?

I don’t drink coffee, but if I did I’d send a nasty letter to Keurig and tell them to stop providing so many choices. How the hell is someone supposed to choose which one to get, especially before they’ve had their coffee!

Vacuums, too. There are two kinds of vacuums: handheld and upright. The rest is just smoke and mirrors. And sorry to break the news, but your house is no cleaner after using a $500 vacuum than it would be with a good $70 vacuum. The only things cleaner are your pockets since they have less of that dirty money in them!

These Elf on the Shelf people are getting out of hand. I’ll buy into the Elf on the Shelf “tradition” as claimed on the box, even though it hasn’t even been around for a decade. But now there’s a new product, which is a stuffed Saint Bernard and on the box it says, “A Saint Bernard Tradition.”

Screw you, Elf on the Shelf! You can’t just invent a pet for our elf, Buddy, out of the blue. We bought a damn dog last year, and we’ll pretend like it’s Buddy’s dog, too. We’re not buying the Saint Bernard. Even if “These pups have assembled to rescue the soul of the holiday season and save the North Pole,” as the piece of Christmas propaganda on the box claims.

Look, if my kids’ Christmas is ruined because I refused to buy a Saint Bernard for their elf, then I’ll accept the blame. I don’t think it’s going to be an issue though.

One last thing. I’m not a big believer in advertising persuading people to buy things they weren’t going to buy anyway. But when I saw these Opposuits on sale in one of the stores, my initial thought was, “That’s exactly what I need!”

If the lines weren’t so long, I totally would have purchased one of these ridiculous things. Never in my life have I thought, “You know what I need, a red suit with snowmen and Christmas trees on it,” but when I saw the Opposuits box I wondered how I’d lived so long without one.

So another Black Friday is in the books. I hope you bought everything you wanted to buy, and escaped relatively free of black eyes and bruises.

And if you didn’t shop on Black Friday, then let me remind you, only twenty-nine shopping days until Christmas.

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