When Black Friday Comes…

November 22, 2007 at 1:20 pm (Cussed Dumbers, Sweet sticky things)

Did you know that Thanksgiving Eve is one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year? While no longer a practicing alcoholic, (I perfected my technique years ago) I thought I was aware of all the cool “holidays.” This was a news flash. (Literally, but I’d heard this from a bartender on Tuesday as well. Perhaps the same one?) I went to work expecting the worst, and wasn’t surprised when two highly intoxicated old white guys got on the bus. They had a hard time standing up, and refused to sit down, so the driver pulled over. “Y’all need to pay, or get off.”

Their skewed logic was that since the bus was going downtown anyway, why couldn’t they ride? When the driver, an older black gentleman, insisted, I saw a first. They said, “It’s because we’re white, isn’t it?” White guys playing the race card?

“No, it’s because you’re drunk!” They stumbled off, cussing. We had a good laugh.

The 24-pack cube of Milwaukee‘s Best Ice they carried seemed like overkill, but they would have plenty to keep them busy while waiting for the next bus. Buh-bye!

And how did the night turn out? Well, a lot of people were drinking, and a lot of people were out. But they were all in the bars and leaving me alone. Co-workers were of the likable variety, and even Master P was happy to hear from me when I called to apologize for a public-relations mishap. (Boss Whitney told me, “YOU get to call and tell the boss this one!”) Then Whitney came by, hung out for a couple of hours, working in a quieter environment than his helter-skelter office at The Mothership.

About the time the co-workers went home, the drinkers started coming out. They were a happy lot, with nothing to do tomorrow but wake up and go to Grandma’s house in the afternoon to eat. Rough duty! It was nice, and it takes the sting out of being stuck working on Thanksgiving. Had I wanted, I could have gotten the night off, but I politicked hard to get my current position. Holiday or not, I’d rather keep my usual schedule.

Thanksgiving is usually quiet. I sell lots of beer and cigarettes, as not much else is open. But there are long quiet stretches where, if I’m not reading, it leaves plenty of time for rumination.

What do I have to be thankful for? Everything! Even though I have a dead-end job, it provides plenty of laughs and pays for my modest fun. I have inexpensive toys, am easily amused, and the stuff I use most I’ve had for 10-20 years. (My home stereo system came of legal drinking age a few years back, and still sounds better than them “eye pods” the young ‘uns are always bragging about!)

I’m thankful to live in a country where I can be this ‘weird’ and not be hung or shot for it. And though I am of modest means, I live better than most of the rest of the world’s population.

I have a house. It’s not all mine, but I have a few hundred square feet of area to call my own someday. I share it with my sister and her husband, and their two kids. I know everyone says this, and of course I’m partial, but they are good kids. Loving, conscientious, funny. Watching my nephew grow is like going through puberty again. I liked him so much as a little kid, and I’ll be damned if he’s not turning into a pretty decent teenager. Who knew they made such things?

My niece is adorable, with the heart and morality of Lisa Simpson. She’s a big fan of the Christmas season, which makes it hard for me to be the Grinch. She and her brother remind me daily what a lucky bum I am.

I have a wonderful sister. (I have two others, and am thankful for them too, but I will address them another time.) She idolized me as a youngster, and even when the rose-colored glasses came off, she didn’t cast me aside. If there ever was anyone I could count on unconditionally, it would be her. Her husband, my brother-in-law, is an honest, opinionated, hard-working hard-headed SOB, and I love him dearly.

I have a one-cat fan club. A stray that adopted us. (Jenny from the Block.) There are three others that eye me with suspicious contempt. (Kevin, Sarah and Neptune. Neptune is an asshole.) I used to be allergic to cats. After years of exposure I’m used to their fur. They now find other ways to annoy me.

The big goofy dog likes me as well. She’s almost a year old, and just now realizing her eighty pounds means she no longer qualifies as a lap dog.

Wouldn’t I prefer to be with this wonderful family on Thanksgiving Day? Sure, I suppose. But I have lots of co-workers who aren’t near their families, don’t get big meals with regularity, and the day is a much bigger deal for them. I don’t feel, just because I’ve been there longer, that they should have to work because I don’t want to. Besides, I’m taking Tool night off, and they will be working for me whether they want to or not! Seniority? Yesss!

I have plans for the day after Thanksgiving. For the past three years I’ve been having a belated traditional Thanksgiving dinner with a special young lady. It’s just the two of us, and she cooks the full meal deal. (Need leftovers? Sorry, I’m keeping mine!) She’s a wonderful cook, a great friend, and a good example of how one can live nobly without being a stick in the mud. (Noticed I mentioned good cook first?) While it may be too soon to call a tradition, I hope it continues forever. I have the same hope for our relationship. I’ve been blessed with a special kind of love, and it scares me to think of it ending.

That keeps me on good behavior.

And now, I must trundle off to make the donuts, metaphorically speaking. If the public is mean today, I will keep telling myself that it will be over soon, and then it’s back home, where the niece and nephew, apparent night-owls by heredity, will be up watching TV in my room, greeting me with big hugs, and offering me leftovers. (I’m eyeballing that pecan pie…)

But I’m going to avoid the traditional stuff today. When Black Friday comes, I will be hibernating in the arms of my special lady-friend, enjoying the spoils of another good year, and reminding myself what a lucky bastard I am.

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