By Jeff Girod
Black Friday is coming and you know what that means? $50 cashmere sweaters! $250 laptops! Strangers in “Juicy” velour tracksuits who will literally cut you for a $99 Garmin.
Yes, the day after Thanksgiving—Friday, Nov. 25—has traditionally become a “garage sale” for every department store and discount retailer. Some stores, including Target, will open as early as midnight this year.
Everyone from Best Buy to Radio Shack to Hot Topic is going to advertise some wild-assed, harebrained “Black Friday deal.” But remember: Just because they’re selling doesn’t mean you have to buy. Whatever it is you think you need? You don’t need it.
There’s a reason why those bargains seem unbelievably cheap: Because it’s probably unbelievably cheaply made. Check the label on that HDTV, Skippy. That’s not a Sony. It’s a Sanyo. Black Friday is the department stores way of saying, “Here, buy all our old crap before the new, really good crap for 2012 arrives.”
Look, I get it. We’re all depressed. And buying things makes us feel better. And for a little while we think, “If I just had the complete DVD recordings of The Six Million Dollar Man—which includes all 100 digitally remastered episodes, the three reunion movies, plus all crossover episodes with The Bionic Woman and The Bionic Dog—well then friend, my pathetic life might be a little closer to perfection.
But the high from buying something never lasts. Whatever trace amounts of dopamine are released in our brains when we call a 1-800 number, or hand over our Diner’s Club Card or click the “Buy It Now!” on an eBay auction, it’s all instantly erased when the bill comes in the mail. (And the bill always comes in the mail.)
It’s the reason we’re all unhappy in the first place. We’re broke. And buying worthless crap—even if it is Black Friday, or especially because it’s Black Friday—is just going to sink us deeper in debt.
“But Christmas is coming!” you say. Sure it is. And we all have holiday obligations and people we have to buy gifts for. But how many people are there in your life that you truly care about? I mean truly, like if they fell off a ladder today and were paralyzed you would happily spend the rest of your life feeding, bathing and changing them? One person? Three?
Be thankful you’ve been blessed with that many and buy them something nice this year, preferably in the $35 range. (And if you think $35 is too low, just remember: You have hypothetically agreed to clean up their poo for the next 20-60 years.)
And as far as buying presents for everyone else goes: Go to Staples and purchase a ream of computer paper. Don’t skimp. Get the thick stuff. Maybe something in a taupe or slate. Then type up a fancy letter stating that you have purchased a goat in their name for some far-flung starving village in Africa. Use a serif font. I prefer Palatino.
And just pick a village. It doesn’t matter which one. Nobody is traveling to Africa to check on his or her donated goat. And even if they did, all goats look alike. And if they traveled to Africa and there were no goats, you’d just say, “Well, I guess they already ate your goats. Because goats—particularly the African ones—are delicious.”
The point is people just want to know that others put in the effort at Christmas time. And boy did you ever. You made up an elaborate hunger scheme about an imaginary goat—and then had the balls to perpetrate the same scam repeatedly on other friends who you were certain were going to talk to each other.
I mean, who does that? I tell you who: An honest, goat herd-buying person who’s trying to help a starving village of Africans during the holidays.
And the best part is you get to sleep in on Black Friday. And nobody is going to knife you for a crappy Garmin.
And to show you how proud I am of you, I purchased a Kenyan water buffalo in your honor.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org.