“Black Friday”

This is supposed to be the busiest shopping day of the year—although not for places that sell suntan lotion and flip-flops. This is Black Friday.

Except for the police. For them, it’s Joe Friday. (Thanks to my neighbor, Margie Walsh, for the preceding rather retro joke.)

Apparently the term ‘Black Friday’ started in Philadelphia some years ago, referring to the lousy and congested traffic that would happen in the “City of Brotherly Love” the day after Thanksgiving. (By that definition, Seattle now pretty much has Black Friday-through-Thursday, 365 days of the year.)
Between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, retail businesses are said to be operating “in the red”—losing money. (This column has been operating in the red for some time.) But on the day after Thanksgiving, stores move into “the black”—when everything from automobiles to underwear sells like gangbusters.

[SIDENOTE: Gangbusters was a long-running radio program that showcased police chase stories. The show started with a noisy blast of sound effects including squealing tires, wailing sirens—and a bunch of machine gun fire—pretty much the same sounds you hear most mornings when Walmart opens.]

I once saw two guys in a music store fighting over the last remaining copy of John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance—so it’s not surprising that shoppers will duke it out on Black Friday to get the last remaining toaster. They sometimes call them “Door Buster Sales”—and in this wonderfully ironic world in which we live—there’s probably a store out there today offering “Door Buster” savings on repair kits for doors.

Target is advertising a 60-inch TV that “won’t last long.” Sounds perfect for watching all the new TV series that “won’t last long.”

If you’re in the market for girls’ toys, Barbie is always a popular option. And for the frugal, look for those factory-second Arbie dolls with the missing first letter. They usually come with the boyfriend doll, En.

Also popular for the holidays are so-called gross-out toys. Actual names include Stink Blasters, Toe Jam Jimmy, Burpin’ Buddy, Barfin’ Ben—and Butt Breath Bob. Those are also the names of people you’ll find living in college frat houses.

Near the top of the gross-out doll list is B.O. Brian. The package says: “Squeeze his head and—Pee-You!!!” This teaches a valuable lesson to kids: Don’t squeeze people’s heads.

You’ll need to get to the store early to find the most popular Puget Sound area toys. These include “Baby’s First Bandwagon”—teaching little one’s how to jump on or off depending on how the Seahawks are doing.
“Cabbage Patty Murray” is still a perennial favorite—and the “Tickle Me Tim Eyman” dolls are available on the shelf right next to the clipboards.

Remember the old Ant Farm? There’s a new one with a local twist out this holiday season: It has all the usual ants and tunnels—but also features a Little Bertha tunnel digging machine. The ants move like crazy, but Little Bertha is stationary.

My mom used to save all her buying for one particular day in our hometown. It wasn’t Black Friday—it was sometime in mid-July. It was the day all the local stores offered deep discounts on everything from shoes to cheese graters—and my mom would snap them up.

I remember she once bought my son—her grandchild—a tiny sweater outfit perfect for a toddler. Unfortunately, she gave it as his high school graduation present. She said it had been just too well priced to pass up.

By the way, that mid-July sale that she always found so irresistible? It was called “Crazy Day” because prices were so ridiculously low.
Later, the name of the sale proved offensive—and was changed to “Deranged Day.”
Sort of like Black Friday.