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Opinion >  Column

Front Porch: Few fess up to Black Friday

Hard as it is to believe, this column wasn’t the first thing some of you looked for in today’s paper.

Instead, many of you lugged your super-sized Spokesman-Review into your home and began poring over the copious advertisements. While the heady aroma of roasting turkey filled the air, you began making your lists and checking them twice. With the diligence of military generals you mapped out your Black Friday shopping strategies.

I don’t get it.

But then again, much to the bewilderment of my mother, I was born without the shopping gene. I shop only when I need something. For example, if I need a pair of black slacks I only shop for black slacks. I don’t look at belts or bangles. I just gather up an armload of pants in my size and try them on till I find a pair I like. Then I go home. Simple.

And I’m a solitary shopper, so as not to be distracted from my mission. Shopping as a social activity? No thanks.

Recently, my desperate need for new undergarments lured me to NorthTown Mall. I’m notoriously mall-averse, so I wait until I’m in danger of having to go commando before venturing to Victoria’s Secret.

I know I could’ve shopped online, but I think underwear is best purchased in person, and I’m the best person to purchase it. Once I sent my husband. He came home with silk triangles held together with string. “What’s this supposed to be?” I asked.

“Underwear!” he said, grinning.

Lesson learned.

So, off to the mall I went. Immediately, I encountered a large group of slow walkers. I’m a fast walker. I can’t help it, strolling just isn’t in my nature. I tried to go around them but they were window shopping and talking at the same time. Like a school of fish, they drifted to the right, then to the left.

I finally squeezed past when they stopped to check out cellphone accessories at a kiosk. That’s when it happened. In my haste to get around the giggling group I accidentally made eye contact with a guy hawking skin care products at another kiosk.

He grabbed my hand and said in a husky, heavily accented voice, “Oh, you have such soft hands. Would you like me to show you how to keep them that way?”

That’s when I broke my sacred rule: Never, ever engage a salesman in conversation unless you’ve got time and money to waste. Before I knew it, I blurted out, “Not unless keeping my hands soft involves someone else washing my dishes and cleaning my toilets.”

He laughed. “Oh, you’re funny. What is your name?”

I wrested my hand from his grip. “Mama says don’t talk to strangers,” I said. Then I put my fast-walking skills to use.

“Come back,” he called. “My name is Sergei and I’ve got free samples.”

See why I don’t like shopping? And Black Friday shopping is the worst. It combines acres of slow walkers with sleep-deprived fast walkers and adds bargain-crazed coupon-clippers to the mix.

If you think I exaggerate, check your local news. Every year some poor shopper gets trampled to death.

I know what I’m talking about, here. When our oldest son approached his first Christmas I wanted to be a smart shopper, so I did the Black Friday thing. That was 22 years ago. I’m still emotionally scarred.

Yet many of you love the ritual. For some it’s a much-anticipated family event. As a teenager, that same son gladly accompanied his then-girlfriend and her mother on several Black Friday capers.

But here’s what’s interesting – hardly anyone will admit to being a Black Friday shopper. On my Facebook and Twitter accounts, I posed the question: Black Friday shopping, yea or nay? Out of all the responses only two people said they enjoyed it — and that was for the people-watching fun.

When the question was posed on the Huckleberries Online blog, 140 of 191 respondents said they never shop on Black Friday. Only 13 said they always shop on the day after Thanksgiving, and 38 said sometimes.

With Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday gaining popularity, has Black Friday finally run its course?

Judging by the heft of today’s paper, I’d say not. So for those who are about to shop, I salute you. In fact, I’ll do more than that. While you load your carts with gifts and goodies and stimulate the economy, I’ll be home in bed – more bargains for you!

You can thank me later.

Contact Cindy Hval at Her previous columns are available online at columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.

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