Black 5:02

Smart holiday shoppers know when to jump the gravy boat and charge, charge, charge

We’ve been doing it all wrong. Thanksgiving Day we’ve got down pat: We know it’s a day for gathering together with family and friends, nominating one of our party to spend a nine-hour day in the kitchen, and celebrating their achievement with a collective, gluttony-induced food coma. When we awaken from that sleep in the predawn hours—on the pull-out bed that Mom assured you was “super comfy” but is nothing of the kind—we run out the door to line up in front of big-box retail stores, waiting impatiently to shop for holiday gifts.

This shopping day is called “Black Friday,” and it’s the problem. According to Wikipedia, whose probably inaccurate word on the matter I’m prepared to accept, Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year and has been since 2005. (The name originated with Philadelphia police in the early 1960s; it described the traffic snarls that resulted from shoppers jamming downtown streets.) Retailers meet the challenges of Black Friday with discounts, “doorbuster deals” and toxic levels of Mannheim Steamroller. It’s an insult to the Pilgrims or Charlie Brown or whoever.

Black Friday has become such a big deal that other kinds of retailers have leveraged its success. We now have Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and, unsurprisingly, Black Thursday, which sees some retailers opening their doors at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving. (Good-ol’ Walmart, always first to the ball.) But even that doesn’t address the problem. As Leonardo DeCaprio said in Inception and Jenna Jameson said in nearly all her movies, we have to go deeper.

The Black Friday model is badly flawed. By waiting until Friday morning to call upon our lesser angels and summon us shopping, it fails to capitalize on the Thanksgiving-dinner carbohydrate boost and sugar rush. It can be argued that in the moments before food coma sets in, the human body is fueled for any challenge this world can bring to it. The carbs give you the strength and stamina to bust doors—and the sugar makes you crazy enough to do it. (And if you’ve had a digestif or three, so much the better: The alcohol will increase your pain threshold. Science.)

We need to ask ourselves: Why are we wasting this peak physical state on a post-dinner snooze? Oughtn’t we to be attacking the holiday-shopping problem stuffed with resolve? Waiting until several hours after dinner isn’t good enough; we need to move Black Friday up to the second minute after we’ve pushed back from the table. We need a Black 5:02.

This is too important a thing to delay eight hours. Our entire economy hinges on this day: As goes Walmart, so goes America. Should we allow such generally extraneous things as “Thanksgiving” and “sleep” to cause us to falter at the peak of our buying power, acquiring only four doorbuster deals instead of six or eight? Don’t worry about overbuying; you can squirrel away the extras for birthdays.

Black 5:02 is the only way we can keep feeding the one sector of our economy that’s still kinda growing: the irresponsible holiday-spending sector. And it’s not like we’re losing a hell of a lot by skipping the post-Thanksgiving rituals. Forget doing the dishes; you’ll receive new ones from relatives in a month’s time. Forget talking to your relatives; they’ll be busy parsing the Crate & Barrel circular. In fact, from now on, you really ought to put everything not directly related to holiday shopping out of your mind.

So, on this pre-Black 5:02 holiday formerly known as Thanksgiving, let us give thanks for the food and drink that give us the energy necessary to shop, and thanks also for shopping carts, which we can lean on for support because we’re so stuffed … with our love of commerce. The Pilgrims had their horn of plenty; it’s time to fill yours with great deals!