The day after Thanksgiving is typically referred to as Black Friday. This designation is in reference to the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Historically it is one of the most profitable days of the year for most merchants as people begin to purchase their gifts. In our household it is about as close to a national holiday as there is. Beginning on Thanksgiving night Trina will sit down begin to map out a plan of action. She will retrieve the newspaper and begin categorizing each advertisement. One stack will contain all of the “door buster specials”. These are the items that are on extreme sale and are usually time sensitive. One stack will be based upon type of gift. These are made up of merchandise categories such as electronics or clothing. Clothing is a special category because these are stores that may require trying something on which in turn reduces shopping time efficiency. The final list of ads are made up of items that might be gift related but also could just be something fun to have. These shopping stops are more fact finding than anything else. Trina may see something that she would like to use as a future gift and therefore we should check it out to see how feasible it would be.
The categorized ads are laid out on the kitchen table along with notebooks and calculators. As I enter the room and survey the landscape I cannot help but to think this must be what the planning room looked like when the Allies were planning the Normandy Invasion during World War II. Troop movements, time schedules, and assessments of enemy troops are all accounted for during this planning session. I’ve been married long enough that you would think that I would have learned a long time ago that the most appropriate answer to the question of whether I want to go shopping with her would be, “No!” but I never learn. It’s kind of like when you ask your dog if they want to go for a ride in the car. The dog should know by now that the only time they get to ride in the car is when there is a trip to the vet but somehow they forget that and are just glad to be invited. It isn’t until after the vet has stuck a needle into their butt that they realize how stupid they were to voluntarily jump into the car. To be honest I think I would rather have traded places with the dog and gone to the vet for a shot than to go shopping today but hindsight is always better than foresight.
I was in the midst of a dream where the Diamondbacks had just won game 7 of the National League Championship Series on an error by “the Great Troy Tulowitzki” when I was awakened by the sounds of an alarm clock. It took several minutes for me to get my bearings. When I looked at the clock I thought there must be some kind of mistake. It says 3:30 AM. I have been in bed approximately 90 minutes and for the life of me I could not figure out what was wrong with the clock; it must be broken. I picked it up and threw it with the force of a Livan Hernandez fastball. Unfortunately I didn’t unplug it first so when the clock reached the stretching point of the electrical cord it recoiled with the velocity of a Randy Johnson fastball. I am here to tell you that while time may fly, it hurts most when time travels back. I was still dazed partly from being awoke at 3:30 AM and partly from the dent in my head where time stood still. Trina’s voice came from the other room ordering me up. For a brief moment I wondered if I had somehow dreamed the last 10 years and Trina was actually pregnant with Dakota and needing to go to the hospital. Now there’s a thought that will drive all sleep from your system immediately. She came around the corner and thankfully she wasn’t expecting. Now I was just left confused. Trina must have noted this as she began to explain slowly using small words that I had promised to go shopping with her today. I tried to explain that when I said that I had no way of realizing that tomorrow meant the middle of the night. Before I could even utter a word she had yanked the blankets and pillows from the bed leaving me no choice but to get up.
As we got in the car and left the driveway I couldn’t help but think we were probably the only idiots on the planet who were in a car driving to a shopping center with a backseat full of ads and notebooks filled with battle plans for invading a faraway country. My assessment was quickly dispelled as we drove past a Best Buy where there were people dressed in sleeping bags and blankets hopping from one foot to another trying to get warm or stay awake. The odd thing was that the Best Buy store was a quarter mile away from where we saw the people in line. At that moment I was praying that Best Buy was not among the list of stores Trina had on her list. I learned an important lesson at that moment, be careful what you pray for. I asked Trina where we were going. She stated Mervyns in a monotone matter-of-fact voice. I am not sure I have ever voluntarily set foot in a Mervyns so I mistakenly asked why we were going there. With the same voice inflection Trina stated that Mervyns was having a sale on towels. Wait, what was that? Could you please hit the Tivo rewind button please I think I missed that. Did she just say I got up at 3:30 AM to go buy towels? The alarm clock dent in my head was beginning to throb at the thoughts of looking at towels in the middle of the night.
The next seven hours are somewhat of a blur in my head. I seem to remember parking lots filled to capacity and fire marshals counting bleary eyed shoppers to make sure stores were not overcrowded to the point where they became fire hazards. I’m not positive but I think I remembered two women attacking each other over something called a Rip Stick in the middle of some kind of Target death match. My role during this shopping expedition was to be Trina’s personal Sherpa. I was loaded up like a llama carrying my body weight in merchandise through crowded stretches of retail madness. This was orders of magnitude of worse than that nightmare I had where the “great Troy Tulowitzki” was traded to the Diamondbacks.
When we arrived back home Trina announced the excursion had been a success. She had obtained many presents and completed the majority of her Christmas shopping. I sat there dazed and confused. How could she possibly claim this trip a success? Obviously we have a different definition of success. To me we could have avoided all of this with one stop. All it would have taken was a trip to the Chase Field team shop and Christmas would have been complete for everyone. Sometimes I just don’t get my wife. She makes things too difficult.