Most Wonderful Times.

I love this time of year. I love the way people frantically weave in and out of traffic, or make any number of illegal turns without signaling. It's just super the way someone in the far right lane will make a left turn, cut everyone else off, and shoot into a parking lot. The parking lots are grand too. Pedestrians pushing overstuffed carts meander out in front of cars at random points, pretty much anywhere on the asphalt BUT the indicated crosswalks. Perhaps the best aspect of a parking lot in this festive season is the way cars pull three-quarters of the way out of the side rows before the drivers stop and look. Nothing beats taking twenty minutes to drive as many feet.

At a time like this, Target is the place to be on a Thursday night with two shopping days left. Being invisible to girls is an ability exacerbated when they're pushing wagons around. There's nothing to do but stop short of being run over and give a chivalrous wave of the arm, since they're pushing through no matter what. Of course, guys are just as bad, with our bulky coats and inexplicable refusal to use a shopping cart. Have an armful of boxes? Walking through the narrowest clothing racks is the way forward.

The locusts clearing the shelves faster than the eye can follow will often swarm around cash registers, where their frantic motion has come to a dead halt. Aisle after aisle of lethargic cashiers ring people up gradually, their eyes glazed over as they look slightly over each person's head at nothing in particular, in a zombie state. After a long day of work, customers are somewhat zombified themselves. Even I'm not above feeding my credit card the wrong way into a reader.

Bags in tow, with nearly all shopping finally complete, what obstacles could await me? The odds of setting off an alarm after nodding to the half-awake security guard aren't as slim as one might think. Granted, in many stores on many days such a thing has taken place, so common that most of them glance at my receipt and/or simply wave me through. This would not be the case tonight, no. This guard would perk up and interrogate me, studying the receipt and checking each item ONE AT A TIME as he walked back and forth through the detectors. Once the culprit was found, I'd be dismissed, to set off the alarm once more and continue on my way without looking back.

As much fun as driving to stores and walking through them is on a night as marvelous as this one, heading home around 9:30 is even better. After all, what could possibly get in the way? Surely no one would wave me around into oncoming traffic rather than let me continue along the right, would they? And if I got past that individual, frantically waving his arm and giving me the judgmental look of one beholding a moron, the back exit should be wide open. Why on Earth would a woman in an SUV be driving the wrong way into a parking lot, at so late an hour, so late in the season?

There's no place like home around the holidays, the gruff reminders that dinner is getting cold a substitute for a welcoming embrace. Late at night, past an old man's bedtime, also seems to be the best time to mention that I'm thinking about getting a co-op. “What do you want that for? You want a HOUSE! You don't want a co-op. What if you get married? And nothing is free. Maintenance must be part of the mortgage. And you'd have to pay taxes. You better think this through, but you do what you want.” After my dad has gone to bed though, it's the best time to show my mom the jacket I bought him, just like she advised me. “That's not what he wanted! That has a stripe! I said SOLID. And what color is that? It should be black; he wanted it for parades. You paid HOW MUCH for this? That's a sin; take it back.” I’m hoping to stay home and do all my wrapping tomorrow, but I suspect she’ll need me to drive her to a few stores for some last-minute shopping of her own.

I love this time of year. I hate this time of year. I can't wait for next year. Wait...do I smell cookies baking? Truly these are wonderful times...


Blogger Janet said...

Don't you know? Target is ALWAYS the place to be.:)

12/23/2005 4:35 PM  
Blogger Xtine said...

Merry Christmas!

12/23/2005 5:25 PM  
Blogger Dave D said...

You just summed up my work day at Toys R Us. Parents go crazy this time of the year because they promised their kid that special toy and everyone is out of it. And BTW, it is my fault. Somehow I keep forgetting that.

Fortunately, there are many patient and kind people still out there that make the day go well. I even get compliments on how calm and nice I am during these times, and that makes me feel good.

As you said...these are wonderful times!

12/23/2005 5:28 PM  

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