Black Friday Holiday Shopping Diary
One man's approach to getting all his shopping done in one day.
Craig Hawksley recently visited the Saint Louis Galleria to experience the start of the holiday shopping season. His journal documenting the trip follows.
Plan A is in motion: My annual trip to the Saint Louis Galleria to get all my Christmas shopping done in one focused outing. It is Black Friday, but I am not afraid. Traffic is manageable. As I drive north on Brentwood Boulevard under the Highway 40 bridge a guy with a City of Brentwood window-sticker tries to cut me off, but I expertly coax him onto the westbound I-64 ramp. He screams something at me—probably "Merry Christmas"— and waves. The poor guy seems to be missing four digits on his left hand; there but for the Grace of God, etc. I shout out a hearty "Same to you, Ace!" and send him on his way to the McKnight Road exit.
I park in the Northeast lot and hoof it toward the mall. This is good exercise, especially dodging countless small women on cell phones driving Escalades.
I go in the California Pizza Kitchen entrance. No need for a list; everything is "up here." The entire complex is bustling with people, buzzing with chatter and muted Christmas music. The colors, the smells, the couples holding hands, the wide-eyed children, the weary moms… I am smiling and actually feeling the spirit of the season wash over me. That's when a gaggle of teenagers tramples me like it's open seating at a rock concert, but even that doesn't break my will. The Galleria is like Bedford Falls under a roof; me and Jimmy Stewart—"Hello, you beautiful Bailey Banks and Biddle!"
At the Meet Santa display I pause to watch a terrified toddler being forced onto St. Nick's lap for the photo op. The bearded one sits on his big throne, emotionless, like a hostage in a YouTube video. He is looking directly at me, and I swear he is blinking in Morse Code, "T-o-r-t-u-r-e…h-e-l-p… m-e…"
I shrug subtly, powerless—and move on.
I come upon Victoria's Secret—a gift for wife? I gaze up at the young angels smiling down from posters on the windows and sigh. Once, long ago, I knew Victoria's secret. Now, years later, I've forgetten what it was.
I pick up the pace. The goal is gifts for three daughters and a wife. Maybe my mom. Sisters and brother would be nice, but not likely. Bath & Body Works? Too crowded. Laurie's Shoes? Too intimidating. Dillard's and Macy's are too imposing, too vast. All the stores are a blur, and my mental list fades like an Etch A Sketch drawing. Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, and Francesca try to seduce me with their siren songs; I'm Odysseus, prevented from jumping to my financial death only by the ropes and the mast. And a low credit limit.
I will buy something for my brother. I spy Urban Outfitters—wilderness gear for city dwellers. It's a multi-tiered store with steep steps winding to the summit, perhaps a metaphor for the Matterhorn. I climb to the peak and find racks of Alpine headwear. I try on a short-brimmed, feather-banded yodeling hat, feeling like Christopher Plummer in the Sound of Music, resembling, in a mirror's glance, Burl Ives in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; alas, so will my brother. I take the elevator down.
Focus of shopping shifts from loved ones to myself as I enter Brookstone. The little boy in me, who at Christmastimes past didn't get what he wanted, stands eyeball-to-eyeball with the adult in me, who has a debit card. I drool over the u-Control Silver Bullet Mini RC Helicopter that really flies! I picture myself spending countless hours making it hover noiselessly above my wife at her computer, playfully chasing the dog around the house, and rigging it with magnets-on-a-string to pick up small metallic objects like paperclips and seafood forks and deliver them to me in my chair in the living room. The chopper comes with a remote control unit that uses 6 AA batteries, which are "Not Included." Last Christmas the wife bought me a Propane Designer Series Stainless Steel Grill, with propane tank "Not Included." Why couldn't the grill's hair-trigger ignition switch, the one that singes the eyebrows off of everyone at your barbecue, be "Not Included?"
I calculate the remote control's "Not Included" batteries will cost more than helicopter. I pass.
Shopping mission aborted; I leave the Galleria empty handed. I decided to fall back to "Plan B;" i.e. going to Walgreens on Dec. 24; paperback novels for the girls, discount name brand perfumes for the wife and "As-Seen-On-TV" gadgets for everybody else. Who doesn't love something "As-Seen-On-TV?" That Ron Popeil is a genius.
Craig Hawksley is an award-winning comedian with decades of experience in his field. He specializes in stand-up and comedy writing, has worked on a number of film productions and has toured with performers such as Jeff Foxworthy. You'll find videos of him along with a link to his blog and testimonials on his Web site.