THE (LAST) MINUTE MEN

‘Twas the night before Christmas

and all through the mall

frantic shoppers were stirring.

It resembled a brawl.

We members of the Yuletide Procrastination Society (YPS) hold our annual survival exercises on December 24 in malls across the nation where we push and jostle one another in good natured holiday camaraderie.

Merchants spend millions urging us to Christmas shop early. Brightly ornamented evergreens begin to spring up in the stores around Labor Day. But YPS members, the great tardy majority, continue to insist on those time-honored elements of excitement and panic which we feel are vital ingredients of a Christmas shopping adventure. We consider Black Friday to be a Little League contest and quite contrary to the holiday spirit.

To be a YPS member in good standing it is only necessary to delay the purchase of two or three critical presents until the last few hours or, for our championship medal, the last few minutes. Last year our Golden Sales Slip Award went to Josh Smedley of Staten Island whose overcoat was torn in half by Macy’s automatic doors as they closed late Christmas eve.

Successful last minute shopping is our goal. Therefore attendence at jolly Christmas eve office parties is frowned upon. These tend to deaden the instincts of the shopper and sometimes the entire Christmas bonus check must be used to finance a bail bond.

The typical male YPS shopper arrives at the mall in the evening of December 24. He wastes a half hour seeking a parking spot close to the entrance and eventually drives to the extreme edge of the lot which is just over the horizon, parks, and then if possible, Ubers back to the entrance.

Entering the mall he is immediately caught up in a stampede as loudspeakers announce a 10-minute special sale in a sporting goods store on the second level. Trapped in a human tsunami he’s swept up the escalator and loses his hat twice before he can fight his way back down. The second time it’s gift-wrapped before he retrieves it.

He approaches a dazed and disheveled mall security guard to get directions to an appropriate store for his first purchase. “I’m looking for something in a pale blue negligee,” he tells the guard.

“You’d better have her paged, Mister. You’ll never find her in this mob no matter how weirdly she’s dressed.”

The Victoria’s Secret store is packed with confused male shoppers gaping at the maniquins and realizing that Victoria has very few secrets. The lines are too long and he decides on a gift certificate instead, eliminating the inevitable exchange problems and fights his way to the toy department where Santa’s ho-ho’s are beginning to lose conviction as a terrified tot tugs at his beard.

Eureka! Standing there before him is the very bicycle he came to buy. It’s the right size, brand, model and color and only twice as much as he intended to pay.
“I’ll take it,” he shouts, collaring a salesman. “Don’t bother to wrap it. I’ll ride it to my car.”

But alas, he cannot have the floor model. Instead he’s given a 50-pound box containing an “easy-to-assemble” bike which he carries and drags to the exit, accidentally knocking down an old gentleman on the way. Turning to help him up, he sweeps a perfume counter clean with the box.

Eventually he finds the exit door, hoping it’s the same one he came through when he arrived. Now for the car. It’s parked about a quarter mile to the left. Or was that to the right?


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