Midnight madness

Gather round children, oh ye with aching feet and depleted pocketbooks. Most of you who are reading this have just awakened after your first round of napping. I know where you’ve been. I know what you’ve been doing. I know what you are.

Early birds.

If you think this blog does not apply to you, don’t stop reading. There is always the chance that you too could fall into danger next year and drink the Kook-Aid.

I don’t blame you. There was one a day when I too fell under the spell of desperate merchants tempting me with their buy-one, get-one-free one-day deals. But the truth is people just don’t think right at four a.m.

Now that you’re a little more clear headed, think with me. Did you really need that sweater or that toy? Did you get caught up in the frenzy and buy one of everything just so somebody else wouldn’t beat you to the punch?

And, hey, if I were to give you ten bucks, would you go stand in line two hours to buy one of those sweaters for me? No? Then why did you stand in line two hours this morning? Is ten bucks not worth your time? I’ll bet you’d consider paying somebody else twice that now to finish your shopping list.

I gave up early bird Black Friday shopping this year. Why? Because I found a mall where all the stores opened at ten p.m. Thursday. I’m a night owl anyway.

Before I left, however, I set some ground rules.

One, I reminded myself there was absolutely nothing I had to buy for me or anybody else. I was going for the sheer adventure of it.

Boy, was I stupid. I wore cowboy boots.

Okay, here’s the deal. I’m going to break a cardinal writing rule—don’t stray from the subject. But, hey, I’m driving this bus. Every now then it’s okay to take the scenic route.

See, I’ve had these boots for over year. They were a Christmas present from last year or the last. I haven’t worn them much. In fact, the only other time I’ve ever had cowboy boots was when I actually wore them to keep my feet from slipping through the stirrups when I was riding. But my absolutely adorable snuggly brown vest went so well with them, I wore them anyway.

Plus, there’s something about cowboy boots that’s empowering. I figured should I have to fight my way out of a mob of insane shoppers, I might as well be dressed for it. I only planned to shop for a couple of hours.

Again, stupid me.

The traffic was so backed up it took forever to get there. Then I had to wait in line forever in the cold because fire codes permitted a limited number of shoppers to enter each store at a time.

When I finally entered Old Navy, my eyes lit up. Mesmerized. Scarves! Only a dollar each. I grabbed an armful for everyone I knew. Then I looked at the line. It wrapped around the store twice. I came to my senses. I left.

I checked out several other stores, but again, I really wasn’t looking for anything except a little adventure, a little people watching. But everybody looked the same. They all had the same drop-jaw expression that said, “What am I doing here?”

I finally made my way to the Gap and endured the line. I figured I’d better bag something during my bargain hunt.

But my greatest act of stupidity was letting the aroma of coffee lead me to Starbucks. The line was out the door, for goodness sake! But I fell in line anyway. This is when I realized that my cowboy boots might come in handy despite my aching feet.

I was surrounded by a hundred caffeine addicts just dying to get a triple shot caramel latte. I found myself in the middle of several manly women discussing a Zombie run and their plans to check out an obstacle course the next day.

My greatest fear was the baristas would mix up my drink with theirs. The only advantage I had was my boots. There was no way I could outrun them even if I were wearing sneakers. I think one of them was a cage fighter.

Needless to say, my shopping experience was a bust.

I froze. My feet hurt. I waited nearly 45 minutes for a cup of coffee that was cold by the time I found my parking place, and I got so buzzed up on caffeine I couldn’t sleep once I finally made it to bed.

So children, those of you who make the vow to give up early bird shopping next year, don’ t be deceived by midnight madness. It is what it is.