Saturday, November 25, 2006

Black Friday

Long gone are the days when I’d casually drop major bucks at the November Nordstrom sale. In fact, my reign as a super-shopper ended when I stopped working with the public. No longer compelled to wow others with a new outfit everyday, I now buy clothes primarily through catalogs and during occasional forays into Ann Taylor Loft.

The urge to shop the day after Thanksgiving remains primally strong, however, and so it was no surprise that I found myself casually suggesting to Tim—like a junkie falling back into a bad habit!—that it “might be fun” to go to the Camarillo outlet stores the day after Thanksgiving. Not understanding the need to shop just for the sake of shopping, Tim asked what I was going to buy. "Uh, underwear," I said—a concept he could understand. His interest was further piqued when we saw shoppers (mostly women) already lined up outside the Camarillo stores on the 11PM news. Although most malls weren’t opening until 5AM the next day, the outlets opened at midnight Thanksgiving night. Tim was now completely on board.

Still, it was a shock when he whispered in my ear Friday morning that it was time to head to Camarillo. Realizing it was still dark, I mumbled, “What time is it?” “5:30AM,” he answered wide awake. “Ugh! Let’s sleep a little longer,” I insisted. But the urge overpowered me as I sent Tim out for sustenance. Armed with coffee (him) and a blueberry muffin (me), we left the house at 6:30AM and headed 35 miles north to Ventura county. I didn’t even blink when we passed a bank thermometer claiming that it was only 40 degrees outside.

Dubbed “Black Friday” by the media, the day after Thanksgiving is—along with the days directly before and after Christmas—one of the busiest shopping days of the year. No wonder then that the parking lot was already full by the time we arrived in Camarillo. Following all the other latecomers to a lot across the street, we parked behind the Edwards moviehouse, completely ignoring a huge sign that screamed “THEATER PARKING ONLY!!” We then waded back to the outlets and made a beeline straight to Ann Taylor Loft, my favorite of all the stores. Tim read the newspaper outside (along with all the other husbands) while I went in to shop.

Over the years I’ve developed several shopping rules that are especially imperative on a hectic day like Black Friday. Rule #1: what you wear to shop is almost as important as how much money you have to spend. Always wear pants with an elastic waistband (for easy off and on) and comfortable slip-on shoes. Rule #2: if you find a pair of pants or a skirt that fits, buy it in every color available as you never know when you’ll find another well-fitting pair of pants (or skirt) again. And Rule #3: unless it’s something you absolutely must have, never stand on a long cashier line for just one item. Life is too short; plus you don’t want to alienate any husbands or friends you may have conned into shopping with you.

Back in my svelte days when I was a size 8, I used to find everything I wanted on the rack. But now that I’m the same size as every other healthy woman in her 50s, things sell out more quickly. The pickin’s were disappointingly slim this time for women of a certain size. Both Ann Taylor and Jones of New York, my other Camarillo favorite, were a bust.

Tim and I had fun anyway, watching other shoppers and steering clear of several stores that had long lines to even get in. Channel 7 news was there in full force (three news vans!), but we managed to steer clear of them, too. To escape the crowds, we ducked into various food shops, like Le Gourmet Chef and Harry & David’s, and snacked on their samples (hence the need for a larger dress size!). Our haul for the day included peppermint bark (to give as Christmas gifts), key lime pie mix, maple sugar (yum!), a silk shirt from Chico’s, and, of course, several boxes of Jockey underwear.

After three hours I asked Tim if he wanted to go over to the Edwards and catch a movie. He opted to go home instead. We were back in bed by 11:30AM.


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