The Afternoon After: Images from Black Friday, Thanksgiving football

I missed last week, and I’m going to blame Thanksgiving and Black Friday for that. Given that I watched virtually no football this week, let’s talk about the holidays.

Crowds and rain

I honestly don’t like Thanksgiving very much. I do, however, adore Black Friday. For one, I find the unmitigated chaos exciting. Everyone who’s out shopping knows it’s going to be totally berserk, and yet there they all are, flocking to discounted HD TVs like ants zeroing in on a stray piece of watermelon at a picnic.

Doorbusters aren’t my thing – I have two televisions already, and I sleep little as it is – but I like taking in the action. It’s also a good time to pad a DVD collection and such on the cheap.

After Thanksgiving dinner, I got back to my apartment at about 12:30 a.m. and was made aware that Wal-Mart had opened at midnight. In need of Kanye West’s latest CD – and wanting to witness the carnage – I put on my Black Friday Gear and ventured out into a rainy night at about 1:30.

As a habitual denizen of 24-hour Pathmark stores and having never gone to a midnight Black Friday sale, I expected the vibe to be the same: a couple of people milling around. My naiveté was quickly revealed, as I was confronted with a fairly sizeable line.


The entrepreneurial spirit was in full effect. There were firemen shaking down satiated shoppers for donations on their way out of the lot, and some guy with a hot dog truck.

Opportunity knocks

Mercifully, the line moved quickly, and I got inside well before they stopped admitting people around 2:30. I was confronted by a scene reminiscent of looters running wild during a riot, except these people were presumably paying for the stuff they were glomming on to. Every inch of the store was packed.


People had already set up camp in certain aisles to await the 5 a.m. electronics doorbusters. There were probably about seven or eight different lines throughout the store of people waiting for God knows what. I snaked through a line of bleary-eyed but relatively good-spirited patrons desirous of a cheaper iPod to grab my Kanye CD.


Some guys had barricaded this aisle entirely with a whole bunch of shopping carts and were peering out with distrustful eyes. I’m not sure what they were doing, maybe squatting there? Regardless, I wanted no part of them.


There were markdowns on everything. Some Black Friday Chunky soup? Check.

Eats like a meal

Black Friday writing implements or whatever? Check. Huge crowd over there for some reason.


This is where they get you on Black Friday: stuff you didn’t know you needed, but then rationalize yourself into taking because of the markdowns. I ended up getting the Kanye CD, DVDs of Bull Durham and Fight Club, and a half-price Stephen King book I didn’t know existed. They got me with “while supplies last.” I resisted the urge to cop tomes by Sarah Palin and W.

Quite a library

Kind of off-topic, but since when does Usher have cologne? Back in 2004, I’d understand it, but does anyone even really know who Usher is anymore? Shouldn’t this be branded with that Jason Bieber or whatever?


All in all, it was a successful trip, in that nobody thought I was out to get their iPod and stabbed me, and I enjoyed watching the utter humanity unfold before me. I’d never actually shopped at Wal-Mart, so I had no idea the Kanye CD I bought was edited and thus completely useless, but that was easily rectified with a trip to Target when I woke up the next day.

There was some guy on stilts outside Target. That struck me as the thing about Black Friday that made the most sense.


As I said, I’m not a huge fan of Thanksgiving, and people’s consolation offered to me before the holiday routinely consists of, “At least you get to watch football all day.”

As in past years, I didn’t watch football all day. But I like that it’s there.

Unlike Halloween, which I generally start celebrating in late August or so, Thanksgiving in my family falls more along the lines of “Let’s get it over with.” My dad doesn’t really seem to like it either, so after dinner, he and I retreat to the back room to get away and watch television.

My dad isn’t a humongous football fan; it’s not that he’s soft or anything, it’s just that the sports he favors almost universally involve shooting at stuff with a gun or crossbow. So we had the games on, but we weren’t really watching them, opting to mess around on his new laptop and just kind of catch up.

Besides sports that involve murdering things, my dad also enjoys college basketball. So instead of watching what was from all accounts a pretty good Jets game, the two of us then put on a recording of Duke’s victory over Kansas State, and then Temple (with one of my mom’s former students) against California.

While we still had the Cowboys game on, I privately took note of the fact that we were indeed carrying on that great American tradition of football on Thanksgiving. My dad couldn’t name three players on the Cowboys if you spotted him Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, but it was still nice just to have the game on in the background while we sat and talked.

I think Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that is more celebrated out of routine than anything else. If it’s up to me, I wouldn’t observe it at all. I’m not a big eater, and though I’m very close with my parents, most of the other relatives who I actually used to look forward to seeing on Thanksgiving are gone now. The whole holiday’s a sham anyway – nobody gets into the meaning of the holiday, with the pilgrims and stuff.

That said, there’s something heartening about watching at least a little Thanksgiving football.

Mind you, I can’t front as one of those red-blooded American types; I eschew red meat and fried foods and have a season pass to Glee in my DVR.

But I have a job that is often more than a little perverse, as evidenced by the fact that I worked from 10 a.m. this past Sunday until well after midnight. Life in general can tend to be hectic and disorienting, and at most times moves way too swiftly. It’s nice to find a shred of normalcy wherever you can.

My dad and I usually bond while watching Duke basketball, or some movie where a lot of people get shot, and neither one of us are extraordinarily enamored with football. And I still enjoyed taking part in one of the most clichéd American rituals there is.

If this makes sense, it wasn’t so much specifically what we were doing, but the idea that the two of us were doing it.

And even for someone who finds virtue in being unique, that’s enough for me to appreciate the value of spending part of my afternoon doing the same thing as literally everyone else.


Here’s my personal Top 10 this week.

1. Patriots (9-2) (LW: 1) – I think Brady steps up and they beat the Jets at Foxboro.

2. Falcons (9-2) (LW: 2) – Matt Ryan coming into his own, and Roddy White certainly helps.

3. Jets (9-2) (LW: 5) – As a certified Jets-hater, I hate that they’re becoming battle-tested.

4. Eagles (7-4) (LW: 4) – Despite loss to Bears, I still think Vick makes them true contender.

5. Steelers (8-3) LW: 3) – About to turn Mendenhall loose. A good thing with Big Ben ailing.

6. Saints (8-3) (LW: 8 ) – Pierre Thomas finally about ready – too late for my fantasy team.

7. Packers (7-4) (LW: 9) – I’m not a fan of teams with absolutely zero running game.

8. Ravens (8-3) (LW: NR) – Pretty much a dead heat in AFC North with Steelers.

9. Bears (8-3) (LW: NR) – That line will get Cutler killed in the playoffs.

10. Chargers (6-5) (LW: NR) – Record of final four opponents: 24-34. Just killed the Colts.


Here are 3 picks for Week 13.
LW: 2-1 (Hit Bucs, Cowboys; missed Browns)
Season: 18-11-1.

1. Bears –3.5 at Lions – With Shaun Hill, I’d go with the Lions. Drew Stanton is lousy.

2. Bills (+6) at Vikings – Peterson is beat up, and the Bills have been highly competitive.

3. Falcons (-3) at Bucs – Tampa Bay is 0-4 against winning teams. The Falcons qualify.


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