The Black Friday Crush
By Cappy Hall Rearick
I am having Thanksgiving dinner with my son and his kids, Babe, my ex-husband and ex-husband’s new wife, the picture of a modern, civilized family.
I swallow a mouthful of dressing and giblet gravy and announce, “A Black and Decker Handichopper is on special at Wally World for five dollars! I think I’ll go over there tomorrow and pick up a few for Christmas gifts.”
My son the lawyer, stares at me as if I intend to ride naked as a jaybird down main street in broad daylight.
“Mom, tell me you’re not seriously considering a trip to Wally World on the day after Thanksgiving.”
I attempt nonchalance and look at my son. “Ye-es!” Then I slip in the almost over-the-hill buzzword, “Duh!”
The grandkids from hell giggle.
My son, twenty-two years younger than I, keeps staring at me. “Do you have a death wish or what?”
“No-oh,” I sing out while the kids laugh out loud. “I have a wish to buy a few Black and Decker Handy Dandy food choppers. You got a problem with that?”
He clears his throat and puts a judicial expression on his face. (He’s going to make a spooky judge one of these days.)
“I’m handling a case right now from last year’s Black Friday Sale at Wally World. My client wound up in the hospital with multiple head wounds, a broken arm and a severe whiplash.”
“Whiplash? She must have wanted that food chopper really bad.”
“Not the point, Mom! These so-called sales bring out the barbarity in people. I’m not kidding. Besides, the stores stock only a few advertised items. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. If you’re not the very first person in line, then you’re flat out of luck. Black Friday is another word for Crushville.”
My eyebrows close together and form a big check mark. I try to remember how many little choppers I saw on the shelf when I scoped out Wally World the other day. I actually only saw four, but I assumed the Wally World Worker Bees would restock those shelves before Friday.
“So tell me, son, how’s your client doing? Did she recover? Did the nice people at Wally World send flowers? Did the government award her a Purple Heart? Inquiring minds want to know.”
He gives me a look. I know that look. It’s the one that says I’m sure you don’t mean to ask such a silly question, so except for this facial expression, I’m not going to respond.
I bat my eyelids while hoping to think of a way to move the conversation forward and far away from the subject of the Black Friday.
“A long time ago,” I blurt, “the word crush had an entirely different meaning than it does today. It did not coincide with holiday bargain shopping at all, unless you were fool enough to go to Filene’s Basement in Boston for the George Washington birthday sale.
“I had a crush on Paul Newman the first time I saw him in a movie. I sat through it five times. Luckily, stalking wasn’t an issue—not that I was stalking him, unless writing to him every day qualifies.”
I look around the table at six pairs of drooping eyelids. Too much turkey.
“One prom night, I worried that my orchid corsage, pinned to the left strap of my blue formal gown, would get crushed if I put on a coat. I’d only wear a wrap made of thin tulle loosely draped over my shoulders. Consequently, what I remember most about those proms is that I was so cold my skin matched the color as my gown.”
“What is a tulle?” asks one of the grandkids from hell.
“Some girl thing,” another one answers in a sleepy monotone.
“The orchid corsage was pinned on my left side so that when my date and I slow danced, I wouldn’t…okay y’all fill in the blanks. Help me out here.”
Babe shakes his head as if formally announcing his intention of trading up soon. “Crush your corsage,” he says through clenched teeth while rolling his eyes.
“Score one for Babe,” I chirp. Heartened that no one has yet fallen in a dead heap on the floor, I continue my trip down the road to the Fifties.
“Back then, I wore at least five crinoline petticoats underneath my full skirts. But even though they were starched stiff as could be, I worried about crushing them if I had to sit down in one place for very long.”
Checking eyes again, I see that only one of the droopy lids has made it all the way to Siesta City, so I keep on trucking down memory lane for one more crushing example.
“When Paul Newman never wrote me back, didn’t send me a signed, autographed picture or even a copy of one, I was totally crushed.”
Fueled, I suspect, by the candied yams churning around in their overfilled, flatulent bellies, they all push back their chairs from the table and, need I say it? In a concordant struggle to get out of Dodge before I come up with another crushing play on words, they take off like a bunch of Roman candles.
When I follow them toward the exit, there they all are, attempting to leave through the same very small door. They are crushing each other like big bags of forgotten Christmas cookies.