How I accidentally invented black friday

When I was growing up my family never celebrated thanksgiving in the traditional way people celebrate thanksgiving. For us, it was just another day to set up our Gypsy Circus road show.
Early on every Thanksgiving morning my father would unpack an old Underwood typewriter with a well worn handwritten sign on a terribly broken down poker table that read “will write a short story for 3 dollars” and people would come up, give him 3 dollars and tell him the names of their children and off he would go, creating these vivid and fantastic tales of danger and woe all based about some crazy concept he would drunkenly throw together inside his mind. Oh, did I mention he was shit faced drunk when he did this? He was.
The problem with my fathers Thanksgiving Day gypsy writing scam was obvious, it would take him hours to write a 2-3 page story and after a paragraph or two, it was completely incoherent. Sure, it might start with, “Johnny and Jimmy had the day off, so they left the castle atop their favorite dragon, flying over the lush green forest that they considered the prime playground.” But within just the span of another paragraph or two, the alcohol and bitterness had taken over and the kid story had turned into, “sure, the castle was a cold place, who can afford to heat such a large and uncomfortable home? It’s not as if the witch of a queen bothered, she was busy with her social life, performing lurid dances for the knights and trolls who would wander in from living under the various bridges that made up the unfortunate kingdom.”
At some point, parents would throw a few dollars at my fathers typewriter and walk away, holding maybe a page and a half of blathering silliness from his beautiful antique typewriter.
At the same time that my father was barely entertaining patsies with his writing scam, my mother, high as a kite on prescription pain medication and something she called “happy juice’ would also set up a shanty town table and a small tent, with a crayon sign that read “fortunes reader hear” (sic) and she would sit, zombie like, until some idiot would sit across from her on a chair barely designed to hold the weight of an infant. She would awaken to find someone in the chair opposite her and she would shuffle her cards. Now, get this, these were not tarot cards, or even Pokemon cards, no these were playing cards that she had stolen from Caesars Palace in Lake Tahoe on one of her gambling binges. She would shuffle them in her Oxy-drugged haze and thrown down a couple of disrupted random cards, look at them, “oh a seven of diamonds and a two of spades. Are you a prostitute? Do you work in construction?” she would ask, and often times, the woman sitting in the guest seat would look at her in disbelief and just stand up, sometimes asking for her money back, sometimes just violently walking out, my mother palming the cash and putting it in her over filled bra.
We had a large family. My oldest brother, who shall remain nameless, mostly because my parents were too lazy to name him, did his own gypsy circus tricks to make the family money. As a young and handsome boy, he was able to cobble together enough of a story to entrance other kids to gather around, and before long, all the kids would dig deep into their “britches” and pull out any coins or cash they had on them. They would willingly hand them to my charismatic brother, who would then tell them to follow my incredibly sleek and fast other brother, dressed for this part in a silk-like fabric racing outfit. My oldest brother would offer the cash prize to the “strongest and fastest amongst you who can take down this scamp here (pointing to my ostensibly pajama clad brother) and bring him back to me” Off my middle brother would sprint, followed by a herd of young and uncoordinated children. Not once in the many years of scamming did anyone catch my super fast brother, actually I stand corrected. One Thanksgiving, a young girl from Tupelo corralled him, took him down like a young steer and held him to the ground and yelled for my older brother to pay up. “I can’t hear you,” he screamed at her, “you must bring him to me to collect your winnings.” That was the screw right there, because my middle brother had spent a lifetime being tormented by his older brother, being held down on a variety of surfaces and tickled or worse by a much stronger older brother and had learned how to escape. So when this young Tupelo girl looked at my older brother in disgust, my middle brother turned a hip, slipped a foot forward, got a knee under himself and was up and running again, the young girl laying on her back screaming in pain. I believe they made five dollars that day.
I was old enough to actually be preparing to leave for Circus College when I finally had the nerve to ask my parents why we never took the day off and celebrated Thanksgiving like so many other Americans. They both looked at me dumbfounded, like I had crossed a logic line that I never knew existed. “Why would you even ask such a stupid question?” My out of her mind mother asked, followed by my father giving me such a serious glare I was sure part of my scalp would soon catch fire and then a slap on the back of my head that was designed to knock some sense into my already empty head.
“I was just wondering,” I said, as explanation.
“Well, wonder how you are going to catch a rabbit for your sisters magic trick this afternoon,” my dad said, as he set up his story table on a nondescript street corner, across from my mothers Fortune Reader tent.
Years later I would have my own family and as much as I wanted to incorporate new traditions, like celebrating thanksgiving in all the traditional ways, all I really knew how to celebrate this unique American holiday was to set up flimsy tables and find a way to remove the cash from gullible peoples wallets. Which is how, about a decade ago, my children and I developed the entire concept of “black Friday” an evil plan that involves not just me and my small and unsuspecting children, but employees of terribly run globally owned slave labor stores, that would buy into my evil plan, by forcing their low paid employees to actually do what my parents made their lonely children do so many years before, engage in embarrassing and circus like work on Thanksgiving for pennies, doing something loathsome and meaningless and obligatory for low wages, just because they could and in the end, ruining both the holiday and the meaning of the holiday for all the employees and the shoppers who have somehow bought into this scam, all in one swift move.
This year, I am without any of my own children for the first time in decades and the love of my life and I are onto some new and better ideas for Thanksgiving. Instead of Gypsy Circus’s or Black Friday scams, we are planning to saunter over to one of the many local casinos and eat life wild forest pigs at an all-you-can salvage buffet. Nothing says Traditional American Thanksgiving like stuffing your mouth with food made by people who should be home spending quality time with their families.


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