WHILE shoppers were tackling each other at a North Carolina Walmart and delivering Taser blasts at Philadelphia's Franklin Mills Mall, I spent Black Friday at home.
It's not that I don't like bargains. I enjoy hundred-dollar big screen TVs as much as the next guy. But I don't want to see grandmothers doing mixed martial arts in the electronics aisle. I don't want to see parents drop-kicking shopping rivals. I just want to shop in peace, so I stay away from crowds of rabid cheapskates.
Looking back on it now, though, perhaps I should've taken my chances with the Sumo-wrestling shoppers in Aisle 3.
My day began as most Black Fridays do - with leftovers. Normally that would've been great, but since I broke my low-cholesterol diet on Thanksgiving, I was forced to spend Friday seeking absolution for my sins. I watched longingly as my wife ate honey-glazed ham and macaroni-and-cheese. I wept silently as my son consumed sweet-potato pie by the handful. I cursed my doctor as my daughter scarfed down deliciously greasy fried chicken.
I wanted badly to join them in their little cholesterol party. I desperately desired to gorge myself until the food burst forth from my stomach. Instead, I did what was right. I ate some white meat from the turkey, and had collard greens and tossed salad on the side.
Even now, as I recall my plight - eating flavorless food while my family enjoyed gravy-slathered morsels - I feel anger bubbling up in my gut. But the annoyance I feel now is nothing compared to the simmering rage I experienced on Friday.
That day, when I finished my healthy meal, I walked around in my robe, wearing the dazed look of a man whose dreams are just beyond his reach. I showered and got dressed, and went into the kitchen to eat an apple. Then I sat down and tried to do a little writing, but my growling stomach wouldn't let me.
LaVeta could sense that something was wrong, and she asked me what it was. I told her that it was nothing, but that was a lie. In reality, my body was waging a fierce inner battle against itself. On one side, there was my stomach and digestive system. On the other side there was my brain, and its only ally - my heart.
"You fool!" my stomach said, in the melodramatic tone of Vincent Price. "All we have to do is wait for the wife to leave and we can have all the stuffing we want! She'll never know!"
My brain responded in the slow, crazed drawl of John Malkovich. "We're not going to do that," it said, sounding as if it were about to murder my stomach.
Just then, my heart spoke up with the earnest dignity of Sidney Poitier. "I will not be a pawn in your game, stomach. You've had enough cheesesteaks to feed Canada. And when we eat them, you get the pleasure, and I get the pain! No more!"
"But we can get rid of it!" my intestines whined, in the voice of Jerry Seinfeld. "We did it with the cheesesteaks, and we can do it with the stuffing, too."
"Is that why Stomach is the size of a tire?" my heart asked sarcastically.
"Shut up!" my stomach bellowed. "Who are you to talk about me that way?"
"Who am I?" my heart answered like classic Poitier. "They call me Mister Heart!"
As the battle raged, my wife looked at me curiously. "What's your problem?" she asked.
"Are you sure? You don't look like yourself."
But the more I denied it, the more LaVeta pressed me. That made me even angrier, because every time she asked me a question, I smelled sweet-potato pie on her breath.
If I didn't get away from the homemade bread and butter, the honey-glazed ham and the calorie-laden desserts, I would snap. So when Little Solomon asked to go to the ice skating rink, I agreed to take him, even though my low-calorie meal had left me with virtually no strength in my legs.
My rage subsided as I stumbled around the rink like the amateur I am, and, together, my son and I skated our way through Black Friday.
Maybe next time instead of avoiding the fat and the crowds, I'll just eat the cholesterol and get Tasered at the mall. Who knows? It might just be easier.