If you’re not from the United States the term “Black Friday” may conjure up an image of some kind of Satanic rite, or worse. It is, in fact, a massive pilgrimage of shoppers to the stores in search of what are meant to be fantastic bargains. I have never found these bargains, nor have I any interest in them. They seem chimeras, hollow ghosts, delusions, and fabled tributes to the age old say that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. However, can be fun to plunge yourself into the midst of it all, especially if you happen to be in New York City. Just don’t spend the usurious sales tax on your bargains!
So after a fine trip to the Metropolitan Museum, the Friday after Thanksgiving, my wife and I decided to check out the scene on Fifth Avenue in midtown. Let’s be clear here, NYC is miserable in the cold – especially when winds kick up micro-tornadoes in the caverns between buildings. Getting about is an art form, that requires striking a balance between drinking enough coffee to stay warm and making sure that you have left yourself enough time to get between acceptable restrooms. The term acceptable is operative here.
There are about two and a half months in the Northeast when we almost envy the folks who live in Arizona and Nevada. But then we realize that, in principle at least, you can always don another layer of clothing to save yourself from imminent death from cold, whereas at the other extreme, living at the edge of temperature habitability, if the electricity and air conditioning fails there is nothing you can do to save yourself from roasting to death – and the water crisis is something else.
OK, so grin and bear it. The only way to beat the cold is to embrace it! Licking street poles however remains unwise – what your mother refers to as “risky behavior.” I ponder the people crowding Rockefeller Plaza. There is a little girl wrapped up in a ski-parka with earmuffs, clutching her mother’s hand – as in “Don’t leave me here!” She has been lured out with promises of a trip to “American Girl” or perhaps to see Santa Claus. Her cheeks are rosie – just short of frostbite. There is the smell of hot pretzels and chestnuts. My father used to take me here. The vendors are a sight – their skin long dessicated by exposure. There is an attractive women in a stylish wool coat and high leather boots. She is on a mission from the future to assassinate the great grandfather of the murderous dictator of the world… Oh no! I think my brain is freezing into delirium. More coffee! Need more coffee!
I will leave you with Figure 1 that shows one of the giant toy soldiers that surround the Plaza. He blares a silent trumpet to herald in the season. Put on an extra layer. Go out and take some pictures! It is a glorious time.