November 29, 2013


           It’s here.
If you’re smart, you’ll lock all your doors and windows, draw your shades and spend the day watching the scariest horror movies you can find—and compared to Black Friday, they will ALL be comedies, believe me.
I made the mistake of venturing forth this morning.
First stop, Rockler.  For the uninitiated, this is a store filled with woodworking tools.  There were a few things Stij had on his list that I knew I could get there, since he had folded the pages at the corners and subtlely circled each item he wanted in day-glo orange marker.  I’d found the catalog under my pillow.
Once I located a parking spot one town away, I trekked to the door.  There was, I kid you not, a maroon velvet rope of the type one sees at movie theaters and exclusive clubs, strung across the entrance.  There was also a rather burly fellow standing next to it with his massive arms crossed.  To see what he looks like, just go to the AMERICA’S MOST WANTED website—he’s the third one from the left.
“Hello, my good sir,” I said.
He turned a gimlet eye toward me. One was all he had.  The other was covered by a black patch with the catchy slogan, ‘Die, You Bastard!’ embroidered across it. “Whaddya want?”
“Merely to enter this esteemed establishment,” I replied.  I go all ‘finishing school’ like that when I’m in total fear for my life.  I figure if they can’t understand me, they won’t kill me…at least not right away.  Plus, while they’re busy mulling over what I’ve said, I have time to get away.
I could hear the gears in his head, the lubricant of actual thought absent, moving like a tricycle left out in the rain for a month or two. After a long moment, he looked down at me again.
“I’d like to go into this store.”
“What’s your number?”
“I’m flattered, but I’m married.”
“No, lady.  You gotta have a number to get in.”
“And where do I get this number?”
He pointed inside the store to one of those deli gadgets that spits out pieces of paper with numbers on it.
“How can I get a number if you won’t let me in the store?”
He had to think about that one for a while, too.  The smell of burning wood drew the fire department.
Finally, in a remarkable stroke of logical reasoning that would have Aristotle shrieking in his grave for weeks to come, he said, “You gotta have a number.”
“Fine.”  I yanked my cell phone and the catalog from my handbag and keyed in the store number.
I sighed.  “Hello.  Is this Duffy’s Mortuary?   Where the elite meet to spend huge wads of cash?”
“Uh, no.  This is Rockler.”
“Oh, what a relief.  I’d like to do a little shopping there, if it hasn’t been outlawed.”
“Sure, come on down.”
“I am down.  Look out your front window.”  He turned and I waved.
“Oh, hi.” He waved back.
The relationship did not seem be to progressing.
“May I come in?”
“Sure.  You got your number?”
“How am I supposed to have a number if you won’t let me in the door to get one?”
“Oh, you were supposed to stop by and do that last week.  Dincha see the flyer?”
“So what you’re telling me is, because I actually have a life and do not spend my dwindling moments on this planet poring through the bale of ads I receive each week, that I can’t shop at your store today?”
“That’s right, ma’am.”
“How about if I call the police?  This can’t be legal!”
“If they don’t have a number, they’re not getting in, either.”
“This is outrageous!  I will never shop at your store again.”
“And we’ll do our best to explain the drop in the stock prices to our shareholders, ma’am.”
If I ever wanted to slam down a receiver, it was then, but cell phones rob us of that olde-tyme pleasure.  The only option I had was to crush it underfoot, but then I’d have to buy a new one, and God only knew what I’d have to go through to get into the phone store.
From Rockler, I drove to straight to Barnes & Noble and had no problem whatsoever getting in.  I was welcomed at the door and given a sandwich and a latte.  It was peaceful, since I was the only shopper in the place. While I browsed, unhurried, the sounds of crickets and peepers accompanied me.  Others can go to WalMart and fight over Elmo or televisions the size of Montana.  Others can go to Rockler and have an aneurysm in front of the store.  I was among friends now. When my pile of books was totted up and paid for, the cashier rushed to the door to open it for me and said, “God bless you and keep you for coming in today.”
Stij is getting a pile of books for Christmas.  Though they won’t help him in the shop, they will save him big on bail money.

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