Back in my day, we would sneer and roll our eyes at any fogey audacious enough to start a story with “back in my day”. We were already tuning out whatever ancient bit of Andy Rooney like caterwauling was about to be lobbed our way. Andy Rooney, by the way, was a chronic complainer obsessed with the decline of civilization who came to prominence in the age of my grandparents. You know, back in their day. The certitude of every generation of the stupidity of the generations that preceded and follow them is the oldest of traditions, and I take some comfort knowing that those who are already tuning me out today will be boring their children tomorrow while I have my final laugh from beyond the grave. Don’t be scared of those noises in the wall. It’s just me, having a chuckle.
So anyways, If it’s not obvious from above, I’m here to talk about tradition. It’s American Thanksgiving today. A day that lends itself to back in my days above all other days, a day where we venerate a tiny minority that Came Over On the Mayflower and pretend it is the Story of Us and not one percent of us. But I’m not here to talk about Thanksgiving either. Because even as many of you are even now sitting down to stuff yourself silly while arguing over whether the tv plays sports or parades in the background, the rest of you are drawing up battle plans. Planning routes. Scouring ads. Sharpening your blades.
Black Friday is coming.
It’s looming on the horizon like the Flying Dutchman, the Jolly Roger perched voraciously above to let us know she means business.
We’ll see the usual news stories about how people take it too far sandwiched in between the other news stories telling us which stores have the biggest savings and reminding us that the entire American economy rests on this day. Because the most important thing to remember about Black Friday is that it’s an artificial construct. The media urgency increases every year while at the same time the American approval rating of Black Friday is at 18 percent. I know this is so because Wikipedia tells me it’s true and Wiki would never lie. It has a page for Santa Claus. Wiki loves me. In the meantime, the Presidential approval rating comes in at about 40 percent. Which means you will have a more successful family gathering if you talk about the 2016 election instead of the TV you really want at Wal-Mart.
If you really must shop, this Saturday is Small Business Saturday. It’s the logical response to Black Friday engineered in 2010- five years after Black Friday officially became the largest shopping day of the year, unlike the previous 30 years where they just told us that it was. Personally, I think if you’re in the Salt Lake City area you can’t go wrong with Weller Books, a hidden delight in the always slightly mystifying space at Trolley Square where you can, like in the bookstores of yesteryear, find books of which you have never heard at a reasonable price and build a decent library like the true bibliophile you know you are. If Wellers isn’t your cup of tea, you can stop in at Ken Sanders. You know, the rare book dealer off Broadway where you can find the odd odds and ends you couldn’t cobble together at Wellers at a reasonable-ish price. And if reasonable-ish is a bit too much for your personal budget, you can go to that funky little hole in the wall on Main Street that always looks like it might be fronting something shady but has been there since forever and has the cool midcentury genre books you can’t find anywhere else at ridiculously low prices. You know the one I mean, right?
What I’m getting at is this- Christmas shopping begins tomorrow and I want books. Marty’s love can be bought.