I guess many of you have embraced Black Friday as a shopping ritual. To me, Black Friday is a fate worse than death. The crowds, the pushing and shoving and parents yelling at their kids and little kids crying and waiting in line at the register…it is just too much. Then again, I hate shopping any time of year. Online shopping has been my salvation; rarely do I visit a brick-and-mortar store.
My hatred of shopping stems directly from my mom’s love of it. She loves the hunt, the deal; killing and bagging her prey. She loves sitting around the campfire and telling the tale of how she single-handedly brought down a buffalo and fed the village for a week, while her latest prey hangs on a spit over the fire. Very primal indeed.
Most children fear monsters in the closet, boogeymen under their bed; I had nightmares about being lost in a sale rack or being chased by hordes of large shopping bags. I had a recurring nightmare that my mom left me in a dressing room without my clothes while she went out to lunch. Oh wait-that one was real! Nowadays someone would have the good sense to call child protective services, but back then everyone politely looked the other way.
My mom liked to shove me in a dressing room and make me try on clothes for hours on end. I wanted to ride my bike or play Barbies or get a root canal—anything but try on clothes. It wasn’t good enough to drag me around and torture me locally; we had to travel and hunt big game. A few times a year my mom would pull me out of bed at 4:00 in the morning and dump me in the back of the station wagon so she could drive like a bat out of hell and make it to the Bobbie Brooks factory in New Jersey just as they were opening. My mom invented factory-direct.
My mom would bring the saleslady coffee and donuts and smile sweetly while periodically hissing at me to stop whining. I still have flashbacks of being led to the dressing room like a lamb to slaughter. After that it was just an endless blur of clothes. We were always shopping a “season” ahead mind you, so in the sweltering heat I was trying on turtlenecks and wool jumpers and on frosty mornings I was trying on shorts and halter tops and bathing suits.
I guess at some point my mom decided that the saleslady was holding out on her and not bringing out the really good stuff. She could either shake her down, or kill her with kindness. I guess in some way I should be grateful that she chose the latter, but that involved taking the woman to lunch while I sat in the dressing room thinking it was taking an awfully long time for them to bring the next batch of clothes. After a while I figured I’d get dressed again and go back out there, but…where were my clothes?
Hoping for guidance, I tried to think back over all the ABC after school specials I had seen; I would have known what to do if my problem involved “the reefer” or a “friendly uncle” or something, but I couldn’t recall any scenario like this. Besides, in the specials the kids would always just run and scream and tell an adult, but they weren’t running around in their underwear. As I was debating dying in a dressing room v. going out in public in my underwear, my mom finally came back.
On the drive home my mom was practically giddy with all the new clothes she scored for me, but I sat in the back and moped. She told me one day I would thank her for her efforts. Well mom, now is the time for me to return the favor. I’m going to come grab you in the middle of the night; it’s going to be a fabulous shopportunity. We’re going to a new mall called The Nursing Home. You will thank me one day.