Saturday, November 22, 2008

Run for Your Life, it's the Holiday Season

So I bought this gorgeous black leather jacket and was dying to wear it; instead, it hung in my closet for months. That’s because - darn this California weather- it wasn’t cold enough to warrant even a sweater. But last year, on Thanksgiving Day, I noted a modest chill in the air and thought, alleluia! I get to finally wear my sleek new jacket.

And I was feeling pretty stylish until my sister admired it. “That’s a beautiful chocolate color,” she exclaimed.

Uh, no sis, are you color blind? My jacket is black. But upon closer inspection, after going outside and scrutinizing the jacket under the blinding glare of the midday sun, and after closely comparing it with my black shoes and black purse, and squinting my eyes and praying that perhaps this was just a light shade of black, I had to concede my sister was right: however subtle, the jacket was indeed dark brown.

Darn! This meant if I wanted the black jacket, I’d have to return to the store to exchange this one. And I realized with a sickened knot in my stomach that since today was Thanksgiving, that could only mean one thing: tomorrow was Black Friday. Stores would be swamped with stampeding hordes of manic bug-eyed bargain-seekers, items would be flying off the racks, and any chance I had of finding my coveted black jacket meant I’d have to face the throngs and go to the store.

Early. On Black Friday.

Now once upon a time I enjoyed shopping on this day, long before it was so dubiously dubbed Black Friday. Stores opened early, featured tempting sales, and people flocked to the shops to admire the decorations, get in the spirit of Christmas, and pick up some bargains in the process. It was a nice way to launch the holidays while burning off pumpkin pie calories.

Not anymore. Today, the day after Thanksgiving has come to signify a putrid partnership of retail greed coupled with consumer gluttony. It’s morphed from representing the start of the holiday season into the lead story on the 6:00 news featuring a mosh pit of rabid, robotic, drooling crowds charging a jam-packed Walmart at 4:00 am, groping for anything that might be on sale. Need a Garfield Chia Kit or an old CD by Kevin Federline? Who the hell cares? Grab it dude, because it’s 50 percent off!
I’ve come to dread the onset of Christmas because these inevitable scenes of wanton vulgarity sadden and repulse me. And every year, I vow to never, ever set foot in a store on Black Friday. Or any day even close to it.

So I had to ask myself: how badly did I want this black jacket? I considered stabbing myself in the eyeballs because then I’d have more pressing concerns than the color of my clothes. Instead, I strategized: on Black Friday, which venue nearest my home might draw the lesser crowd? The enclosed shopping mall 15 minutes south or the outdoor shopping plaza 15 minutes north? I rubbed my lucky Rabbit’s Foot, threw salt over my shoulder, crossed my fingers, opted for the latter and hoped for the best.

And that is how, at 9:00 am on Black Friday, I found myself in Dante’s Inferno, aka the dreaded department store. But there were no carnivorous crowds jamming elbows into rib cages. No eager sales clerks hovering over me in anticipation of a coveted commission. Not only did I find the last black leather jacket on the rack, it was an additional $50 off, which made my venture just a bit sweeter. Since the crowds were lighter than expected, I decided to walk around and do some shopping myself, maybe grab a hot chocolate and engage in a little people-watching. Hey, there was even that long-awaited nip in the air: I could don my new jacket!

Strolling through the plaza, I admired festive window decorations while enjoying carols piped through outdoor speakers. Sales clerks weren’t pushy, but pleasant. Shoppers were cheery, courteous and kind, opening doors, saying “thank you,” smiling. Frequent exclamations of “Merry Christmas” rang through the air and not once did I see anyone rushing, ramming or shoving. This was the day after Thanksgiving as I remembered it. Before shopping malls mutated into bottomless chasms and big-box stores encouraged mindless masses to run amuck in search of a penny saved.

I snuggled my scarf a bit tighter around my neck and sat near an outdoor fountain, sipping my steaming peppermint mocha while absorbing the view before me: parents leading their excited toddler to see Santa; the Golden retriever wearing an elf cap; and the 16-foot Christmas tree newly adorned with ornaments the size of cantaloupes. I relished the bite in the air and the joy of the season. Such an unexpected surprise this day turned out to be. I reveled in the moment, my cynicism melting and the holiday spirit dawning as subtle as…

…well, as subtle as a brown leather jacket.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Same Sects Marriage? Oh Yeah.

Back in the day, when I was a "sweet young thang" and worked for Transamerica Airlines, I use to insist that my dream husband was a pilot. That’s because he’d be home half the week and away the other half -- the perfect arrangement to complement my desire for marriage coupled with my fierce streak of independence. “I love you, babe, now GET OUT.”

No wonder I never married.

Ah, but I’ve discovered that the ideal marriage is still within my grasp. Because aside from being totally hooked on the HBO series, Big Love, about a modern-day polygamist family, I’ve also learned about the concept of Sister Wives: multiple women married to the same man.

In Big Love, each of the three Sister Wives maintains her own home that opens up into a common backyard. The women, who share a genuine affection for one another, also share the highs and lows of marriage: cooking, errands, child-rearing, sorrows, celebrations – oh yes, and handsome hubby Bill, who juggles conjugal visits between the three women.

How COOL is that? Just imagine...all the joys of marriage coupled with the camaraderie of your best gal pals.

I want to be a Sister Wife!

I’d make a great one, really. I’m good at sharing and am pretty flexible, so swapping nights won’t be a problem, just so long as booty-calls don’t conflict with
What Not To Wear on Friday nights. Although as a Sister Wife, I may be asked to don those Little House on the Prairie dresses favored by the Mormon Fundamentalist sects, in which case What Not To Wear will pretty much become a moot point since I’ll be doing all my shopping at The Vermont Country Store.

Ah, but fashion is a small price to pay for the perfect marriage. Look what I’d be getting in return: the companionship, intimacy and joys of a beloved husband. Not to mention someone who can handle all those household chores that single women so dread, like when the toilet backs up or the car starts making that funny noise under the hood. Yes, it’s nice to have a man around the house.

And on those days when I want nothing more than to be alone so I can hunker down with my latest issue of More magazine? Or when I have just one nerve left and he won't stop yapping about his golf game? No problem! I simply scoot him off to a Sister Wife who perhaps feels like having her own "hood" looked under, while I get to enjoy a peaceful, relaxing bubble bath. Pass the Champaign, please.

But wait, it gets even better. Say that I'm a lousy cook (mind you, just a hypothetical example that in no way supports the rumor that I once almost set fire to my kitchen trying to heat a frozen pizza, and if Pam or Deb or Richard or Deanna or Alisa or Frank or Jim or my mother or sister or Fire Engine #9 say otherwise, they're all just big fat liars).

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, pretend I'm a lousy cook. Hey, no big deal! Maybe I have a Sister Wife who makes a mean pot roast and besides, I have other talents to bring to our marriage, like my emi#@ nsectetuer and ad#!ipi#scing elit. And then there's xenean c#ur%sus orci suscipit urna! e%ne^an* lacinia.

Oh dear. My computer appears to be experiencing technical difficulties.

But really, are Sister Wives not the best arrangement ever?

So I'll continue hoping to one day meet my dream husband. It's not like I'm picky. All I want is a man who is kind, witty, tall, funny, loves dogs, bears a passing resemblance to George Clooney, and has a couple Sister Wives.

Sigh. Just call me a romanticist at heart.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Blog is Back

Don’t you just hate it when someone starts a blog and then doesn’t keep it up?

Okay, guilty as charged, but the thing is, mom’s fractured kneecap put a crack in my own schedule. Between crazy-busy work, my usual two-hour commute, and tending to a laid-up mother, I haven’t had time to do much of anything; well, other than relive my carefree, decadent twenties through my favorite guilty pleasure—viewing
music videos from the 1980s on YouTube. Aw, c’mon, admit it; videos from the likes of Thompson Twins and Sisters of Mercy rock!

Yeah, with laughter maybe, but hey, they’re a nice trip down memory lane. They remind me of a time when I naively believed that if I worked hard and was responsible about saving money, I might actually one day retire. Before I started looking like the
Crypt Keeper, that is.

But now, I’m guessing retirement isn’t going to happen anytime in the next quarter century; not if all those minus marks on my statements mean anything. Still, I’m trying to look at the bright side; maybe losing so much money isn’t a bad thing since there won’t be anything to steal when those nasty identity thieves try to pilfer my funds.

Oh yes, about that.

Last week I was alerted by a security firm hired by the headquarters of my employer. Seems a health vendor once used by my company experienced a teeny weeny itty bitty little “security breach.” And “minor details,” like my social security number, birth date and home address, may have been “compromised.” The letter was crafted so carefully and with so many euphemisms, for a minute I was almost expecting to read that I was the grand prize winner of a set of Ginzu Steak Knives or Encyclopedia Britannica. And then it sunk in.

Ah, but life still offers little pleasures. Like the chuckle I enjoyed today after reading John McCain’s proud announcement that he had received the
endorsement of Dick Cheney. John, my good man, is this really something the public should know? It’s kind of like Martha Stewart being endorsed by Hannibal Lector.

But I digress.

For now, I'm going to forget about crashing stocks and identity thieves, and go indulge in another YouTube video. And I know just the one to watch.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

Hey, it’s worth a shot.
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