Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Friday

Black Friday is so named by the retail industry because it is hoped that the day after Thanksgiving will put them in the black, profit-wise. So it's a happy moniker, or supposed to be. But for me, this year, Black Friday became a darker day.

First of all, Thanksgiving Day was a delight for me. I accompanied a small gathering of friends to a local restaurant, and had the traditional Halibut On A Bed Of Garlic Potatoes With Sauteed Asparagus, just like the pilgrims. The only mar to the day was when one of my dinner companions, a gal who has known me for several years, asked, quite honestly, "Scott, have you retired?"

This question, innocently asked, pushed all sorts of buttons for me. I have recently allowed my natural hair color (salt and pepper) to bloom, and so anyone who has not seen me in a while is naturally startled by all the silver uptop. But I cannot believe that I look 65 years old.

So, the long holiday weekend was off with a big bang.

Just like everybody else this time of year, I am thankful for my family and friends and all the good and loving feelings I receive from them. I admit that I am also thankful for some material things, most especially my home. I feel very lucky to live where I do, and it was luck which put me here. I landed in DC only due to my graduate work, which included an internship here. It was never my intention to settle here, so my first home in The District really wasn't one; it was a hole in the ground which I dubbed "The Pit." It was a tiny basement apt with a door at the back of the closet leading into the furnace room. Once a month, when the oil for the furnace was delivered, I had to evacuate the place because of the fumes. Nice place, eh? I started getting work after I graduated, so I stayed in the city, and because I'm a lazy shlub, I remained in The Pit for over four years. Finally, it became apparent that I wasn't leaving the area any time soon, so I decided to improve my quality of life a bit and come up out of the ground. Rents at the time were running neck and neck with mortgage payments, and I was lucky enough (or frugal enough) to have a down payment, so I ended up on the hunt for a condo to buy. I had only two requirements, that it be centrally located (not a 'burb) and that it have a working fireplace. I looked at a few places, and landed in my current building because all the units had that fireplace. I was close to purchasing a very small unit located at the front of the building on the first floor when an aging hippy approached my broker in the hall and struck up a conversation. We ended up touring his much larger third floor unit (we toured all of it except the closet, which he declined to allow us to peek into. He was growing pot there). A month after our first look, I was moving in. This was nine years ago, and I've been very happy here. I've always been a homebody, and the one-bedroom is the perfect size for me, despite my tendency to clutter. Of course, I had to completely reline the chimney, replace the water heater, dishwasher, and stove, and still, after nine years, have not painted or re-carpeted. But that's my own laziness at work again. I'm lucky to be so centrally located, right on Capitol Hill, with my own parking space, a tremendous roof deck, and other niceties. And I caught a break on the price, too.

I've taken this schlep down memory lane to help remind myself how, all things considered, I still love living where I live.

The Tuscany is a building with about 20 units, and we all have a nodding acquaintance with each other. This is the Big City after all. It's a secure building, with a system which requires visitors to be buzzed in at the front door. Often, UPS or other delivery services gain entry and leave individual packages right inside the door. Recently, in fact on Black Friday, I discovered that a Christmas gift I purchased in anticipation of my trip to North Carolina for the hols, a big can of designer candy, was delivered last week, placed inside the security door, and then stolen. By one of my neighbors.

So this weekend, I'm afraid I've lost, not only 40 bucks, but my faith in the honesty of my neighbors. I know I'll recover, but from now on, as I pass one of my fellow Tuscans in the hall or in the parking lot, I will continue to nod, but will be wondering if this is the lowlife who stole a part of my family's Christmas.

Probably not the feeling one is supposed to have at Thanksgiving. Or perhaps it's spiritual payback for the theft my ancestors perpetrated on the native Americans during the time of the First Thanksgiving.
Yeah, I'll try to think of it that way...

Well, my Black Friday could have been worse, I suppose. I could have been that poor Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death in New York, just because he stood in the way of a mass of crazed bargain hunters. But it might have been fun to be standing in the next aisle of that toy store in Palm Desert, where two shoppers' argument escalated to the point where they both pulled out guns and shot each other.

Be warned. Next time I go to Toys R Us, I'm packing heat.