Letter from the Editor 

This week marks the beginning of the annual "celebration of buying stuff" or, as some call it, "the holidays." It starts with the consumer orgy known as "black Friday," which is celebrated by going to the parking lot of any major chain retailer before dawn and standing outside in the dark for hours in order to be one of the first to get inside and, well, buy stuff. Why this is appealing to certain humans, I have no idea. It's not like the stores are going to run out of things to buy.

For years, I prided myself on doing all my Christmas shopping inside the Parkways. I never ventured to mall-land. Ever. Then, a couple years back, things got even easier when I started buying everything online. Three hours in front of a keyboard and — voila! Holiday shopping done!

The only drawback is that you can't actually see the stuff you're ordering, just pictures of it. Which means you have to rely on descriptions of the merchandise when making your decisions. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, not so much. For instance, I saw this corduroy jacket that I thought my son might like: "Sport-coat styling in a comfortable, unstructured fit that's compatible with your disheveled indifference." Perfect. He is totally disheveled and indifferent.

A fleece pullover for my dad was more problematic: "Wear it from predawn waxing sessions through afternoon corn runs." Hmmm. He's 84, and I don't want to think about his "afternoon corn runs." But, what the hell. Merry Christmas, Pop!

A shirt for my boss? "This suave polo can put in a hard-riding chukka at the Hurlingham Club, then go on and rise to occasions where ordinary polos have to mumble their apologies." Perfect. If he doesn't like it, hopefully he'll accept my mumbled apologies.

A sweater I was considering for my brother really stumped me: "When the day's crux smear has finally been freed, follow the darkened trail back to your car and retreat into the warmth and comfort of our classic cardigan." I was afraid Chris Hanson of To Catch a Predator might follow my brother back to the car after he freed the crux smear. I sent him a gift certificate.

Happy holidays! And caveat emptor.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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