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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Blackerer Friday

(You want the science? You. Want. The Science? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE SCIENCE!

No, wait. You totally can. Especially when it’s Secondhand SCIENCE. Check out a few good words about capillary action. It’s more fun than a Cuban Code Red!)

I learned something yesterday: you can’t avoid Black Friday.

I’m not a shopper. There’s nothing about the shopping experience I enjoy — especially on “big” shopping days. And Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving, and the first day stores can really lay on the Christmastime schmaltz without the entire nation collectively rolling their eyes — is the biggest shopping day of all, at least in the U.S.

(Which means the biggest of all, anywhere, right? I mean, who’s outshopping the spend-frenzied, Christmas-crazed, spangle-wearing fuck-yeah-Murricans?

The French? Please. Germans? Nein. And it’s not like China’s known for shopping sprees. They’re too busy making all the stuff that gets shipped out for everyone else to buy.)

The point is, I’m not a shopping fan. From the yawning parking lots to the cheesy ads to the packs of strangers made wider by heavy coats, stuffed bags and three helpings of Grandma’s family-secret green bean casserole.

(By the way, granny: the recipe’s right there on the back of the cream of mushroom soup can. You’re not fooling anyone, sister.)

“But at least online shopping doesn’t smell like sweaty down jackets and stale Cinnabon.”

So I don’t shop on Black Friday — or any other day, when I can help it. And this year, I went a step further. I decided that I wouldn’t spend any money whatsoever, all day long. On principle. As a personal boycott. Also, to save up for Cyber Monday.

(Not really. But at least online shopping doesn’t smell like sweaty down jackets and stale Cinnabon.

At least, mine doesn’t. And if yours does, you should probably think about getting a new laptop. Or a new living room.)

Normally, “unspending” on a holiday Friday would be pretty simple. Leave bed, find couch, find Simpsons marathon, repeat as needed. But yesterday was a bit different. I’ll be out of the office on Monday, so I “traded” days, and volunteered to work Friday instead.

In many ways, that was nice. No one — literally no one, so far as I saw — was there. So there were no distractions, no meetings, no fire drills, no pop-ins, and no one yelling at me for riding my rolling chair down the long hallway shouting, “I’m on top of the world!

Presumably, they’ll see the footage from the security cams. So I am not looking forward to Tuesday.

But my primary goal was to spend no money and experience no shopping, and that was a bit of a minefield. First of all, I needed to eat. No problem; I made a sandwich at home and took it with me. I was out of soda, so all I had to drink with it was apple cider vinegar and a half bottle of ranch dressing, but I made do.

That’s what “on principle” is about, after all. Eating terrible meals and sacrificing any shred of personal enjoyment.

My bigger problem was actually getting to the office. I drive, and I have a parking spot — but it’s not at the office building. It’s down the street. In a mall.

Because the universe hates me. We knew that.

To avoid the mall — the crammed-full parking, the holiday jingles, the hordes of wild-eyed bargain hunters — I decided to forgo my usual space altogether. Money spent or not, trying to park and walk through that nightmare (twice!) would ruin the entire point of a Black Friday boycott. And it would make me hungry for Cinnabon. No good can come from that.

So I cruised past the mall, drove the few blocks to my office and found a spot — so many open spots! I bypassed the mall completely, spent zero money, ate my awful homemade sandwich and washed it down with Hidden Valley, and I worked. Mission accomplished.

Or so I thought. Until I went back down a few hours later, and found the ticket on my car. Because even though Black Friday is a “holiday”, it’s not a holiday-holiday, and the cops are still roaming about, jolly as punch to ding you with a fifty dollar ticket for parking out of the way where no one is, because everybody’s at the freaking stupid mall, jackass.

Ho ho ho.

So anyway, I didn’t shop. I went to work. And I still spent money, which will let some meter maid have a merrier Christmas buying coal or dirt or little childrens’ souls or whatever they exchange for the holidays. Black Friday, indeed.

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Me on Film 'n' Stage:
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