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Black Friday, indeed

When we met between the racks of better women’s sportswear, I knew I was in for an emotional ride. Her hand, when I shook it, was stiff and cold, wooden almost. I couldn’t discern the material. Perhaps some sort of polyresinous material. Born in a factory, but not without feelings, her body may have been poured in a mold, but not her heart.

It wasn’t easy ignoring the stares of the other shoppers as I talked to Willow. A security guard hid between racks of deep-discounted swimwear and held a walkie talkie to his mouth. He looked at me from the corner of his eye and turned away when he saw me looking at him. It did not dissuade me from listening to her story. It needs to be told.

She shared, hesitantly at first, “I am tired of the trend, of what I see. It’s an encroachment on our world, on our time. It isn’t fair,” she spoke through coral-painted, unmoving lips.

Her curly blond hair was slightly askew and it was distracting. “Do you mind?” I asked. She replied she did not, it had been itching. I fixed her wig so it was on straight. It made the waxy sheen of her curls more flattering around her airbrushed face. She told me an uncontrolled toddler had jostled her earlier in the day, while running away from his mom.

“Occupational hazard?” I grinned, attempting to lighten her mood and make the security guard see I was no threat.

“Yes, but more importantly it is part of the disrespect we see every day. The mother didn’t even stop…” her voice trailed off. Her eyes were far away. In fact, I can honestly say she stared across the aisle during our whole encounter, fixed on a display of faux fur hats marked 25% off.

“I am sorry,” I told her and patted her arm, not knowing my sympathy and the most horrifying moment of my life would collide. Her arm fell off inside the sleeve of the silk blouse she wore and I instinctively recoiled and gasped. I was ashamed at what I had done and even more ashamed of my reaction.

She sensed my despair and immediately reassured me it happened all the time. It was not her original arm anyway. Such grace! “We need to hurry. I think we are being watched.”

I agreed. There were two security guards and several shoppers glancing at us, pulling their children closer. Good, I thought, Maybe none of them will let their kids run amok without consideration!

“It isn’t as if we ask for much. Just a few hours to be able to stretch, to talk, to scratch where wool sweaters itch and for the girls in lingerie to put on a robe and get a little dignity back.” She was speaking rapidly, her voice was tight, impassioned.

“Go on…” I urged, sensing more activity from the security guards. Both were talking into their mouthpieces.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news. Woody, who is assigned to sporting goods, saw it on the bank of TVs across the aisle in electronics. Some mall in North Carolina is opening at 1am on the day after Thanksgiving!”

“Oh no.” I shook my head.

“Everyone…everyone knows when the store is closed it is our time! What about us? What about the mannequins, those of us who stand, and stare, who wear your ugly clothes? Last summer I spent two weeks in ultra low-rise jeans and was mortified. I could do nothing to hitch them up. My crack was showing!”

“You have a butt crack?” The words leapt out of my mouth a little too loudly. Sometimes I don’t think before I speak, and this was one of those unfortunate times.

She just stared, and I apologized, again. She continued.

“As I was trying to explain, when you people open your stores during our hours, you are invading our time and our territory. How dare you?”

I felt slightly indignant at her sweeping condemnation of people and told her so, “It’s just one night. What’s the big deal?”

“Just one night will become just two nights! Just three! Pretty soon you will keep your stores open 24 hours a day, seven days a week!”

I told her McDonalds and some grocery stores were already open all the time. Denny’s has been doing it for years and years. Nobody complains, it is rather nice to know you can get a Grand Slam with extra bacon and a big glass of fresh squeezed OJ at 3am.

She sighed, “See? It is starting. It is starting already. Woody over in sporting goods will be crushed when I tell him tonight. He thought he was watching Punk’d on the bank of TVs or something when he heard the news. At least he hoped he was.”

Suddenly, I noticed a flurry activity on either side of me. A gruff voice demanded I come with them. The mannequin was silent as they escorted me to the automated doors and told me to please leave, or they would call law enforcement. She didn’t speak up for me as they hauled me away, but I will speak for her and millions of others like her: Please don’t shop the day after Thanksgiving, especially before the Godly hours of daylight.

Do it for the mannequins. Do it for yourself.

9 comments to Black Friday, indeed

  • Too funny!!

    Mary, who sadly is a dyed-in-the-wool Black Friday girl

  • Oh man, this was great Gretchen. Now I will always wonder about mannequins’ butt cracks…..

  • Ah, I hope my love of online shopping at least one mannequin…

  • (Meant to say)

    Ah, I hope my love of online shopping SAVES at least one mannequin…

  • Jenn

    So funny!!

    Ask Nick sometime, about his mannequin experience! 😉

  • Oh my goodness. This was hilarious!

  • I wonder if you had time to discuss another disturbing trend: the use of headless mannequins. I find this particularly disturbing–a disproportionately sized bust and waist, and no arms, no legs, no head. I try NOT to see it as symbolic. I fail.

  • Oh! Save the mannequins! I’m a stay at home the weekend after Thanksgiving kinda gal. The crowds (not to mention the ungodly hours) frighten me. I feel like I’m part of an out of control mob.

    Last year was the first and only time I’ve ever gone shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. And that was because I was getting married the next day and still didn’t have a “going away” outfit.

  • edj

    I’m so glad to realize that I’m helping save mannequins by avoiding crowds and holiday shoppers in general. Of course I’m far away now but I’m proud to say I’ve NEVER gone shopping on Black Friday, except maybe to pick up milk and eggs and flour.
    I mentioned this concept in my conversation class and everyone was appalled at shopping a whole month before Christmas! They thought it was so early!

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