Okay, I admit it, I was hiding. This time of year is difficult for me and my kind. By my kind, I mean men. I hate to shop, I am what you call a search and destroy type shopper. Battle plan, tactical surveillance, feet dry over enemy territory and target acquisition, target in hand, extraction of target, feet wet and home again, home again. Perhaps, I can translate the previous sentence for you. I know what I want to buy at the store, “lock washers,” I drive to the hardware store, I walk across the wet parking lot. It rained that day. I am in the store, on the hardware aisle, I pick up the package of lock washers, pay and leave the store. This approach works uniformly for whatever I am shopping for: bread, milk, shoes, shirt. It works because the target is clearly defined.
Target definition is why I hate Christmas and Valentine’s Day shopping.
“What do you want for Christmas?” It is a simple question but a pitiful effort to define the target. “Oh, I don’t need anything for Christmas. I’ve already got yours and I know you are going to love it.” This comment leaves me scratching my head, I don’t remember saying anything about my Christmas gift wishes. I am not certain I have even thought of it.
“You have to help me out a little bit or you are going to get another bathrobe or blender.” There is a long pause in the conversation, I wait for the other shoe to drop. It doesn’t. Then with a long slow inhale, she says almost casually, “Counter space is going pretty fast.”
Okay, I admit she has two blenders. I don’t normally panic but that year I did. Other years have found me staring at Harley Davidson t-shirts in the truck stop display case and thinking I hope they have her size. So, I asked the three other guys next to me, “What color?” I picked the wrong color, I know because I found the t-shirt in the rag bin.
Purgatory for me will probably look like a mall. Glassy eyed men of all ages and shapes and sizes, wandering the great halls. Staring mindlessly through thick windows and pulling desperately at locked doors, hoping to find redemption by picking the perfect gift. But never finding it, the parking lot doorways would be filled with scowling, tight lipped, arms crossed and eyebrows furrowed in disapproval of our offerings.
The panic attacks start around the same time every year, the week before Thanksgiving. Every football game is interrupted by screaming voice-overs demanding we buy a new recliner, car, coat, shoes, cooking utensils and a whole kitchen worth of appliances. Every 11 minutes we are told to take advantage of the Pre-Black Friday Sales, then all day Thanksgiving stores tell us they are open, no kidding. Then the day came, I normally love Fridays. But this year I hid under the covers until after noon. I refused to acknowledge the sun. My family stood near the bed and quietly spoke among themselves, I pretended to sleep.
Black Friday passed and I still had money in my pocket. My opossum imitation appeared to work. Saturday, I rose, fixed my coffee, washed my face and dressed for a new day. On a whim I clicked on the television to check the weather to discover there is a new terror lurking about the world. Post Black Friday Sales, fellas, something has to be done.
We see each other, we band of brothers, we make eye contact as we go on our packaged laden paths, following our gleeful mates and we know. We know that a new year is coming, a party will be held at midnight for some to celebrate the end of the Black Friday Season, for others the beginning of a new year.
If anyone figures out how to understand how to identify a target, aka gift, that would thrill the loves of our lives. Please share that information with us, your brothers in harm’s way. In the meantime, stay alert, look for clues and be strong because this too will pass.
Don Buck P. Creacy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org