Near 9:30. Things come better around 6 in the morning. Those phantom words that hide beneath the horizon of sleep come more readily at that time of the morning.
My son and I went forth into the crowds of December shoppers yesterday. I say Decmber shoppers because I fear being gauche by saying Holiday Shoppers which is a euphemism for saying Christmas Shoppers. Oh my! I've committed the holiday sin. I mentioned the word Christmas.
Christmas is not the socially acceptable term. It could almost be Polically Incorrect.
There was a time when shopppers trundled through the stores with a happy "Merry Christmas" rolling across the tongue and into the ears of total strangers during the Christmas shopping excursion.
"Hello and Merry Christmas!" we'd say as we nodded to a fellow Christmas shopper while tugging against that person's grip on the last Cabbage Patch doll.
"My little girl wants this doll!" I'd yell, pulling with all my might.
"So does mine, (bleep)!"
"Well my girl wants it more!"
"The hell you say!"
The struggle ended with the other store patron landing on her butt and me running to the cash register.
"Back o' the line (bleep)!"
My prize safely in my iron grip I'd wander to the end of the line. It was difficult to see it at the back. The other shoppers bumped and shoved to reach the shelves hidden by those queued up.
"Will you get out of the way? I need to get to that toy."
"Hang on. Let me scrunch up to this shelf. There. Better?"
"You could have reached it for me (bleep)."
"You asked me to move."
"I thought you knew I meant you could get it for me. Where's your Christmas spirit?"
"I left it at home with the tree that fell over in the living room."
The line, serpentined amongst the aisles, inched slowly forward. I checked my watch. An hour in line wasn't bad I thought to myself. Of a sudden I felt a tug on the Cabbage Patch doll gripped beneath my arm. It was the woman with whom I'd struggled to keep it earlier. She was hiding behind the person at my back. She was tugging at it from a stooped position. I put both hands on the box and yanked forward. She tumbled over knocking down the two shoppers behind me.
"What the hell?" They shouted falling down amongst the packages dislodged from their hands. One of them had a Cabbage Patch doll which skittered along the floor to be snatched up. Another shopper had seen the commotion, run over, grabbed the box and easily jumped over the people and packages on the floor racing away.
"Hey! Come back here with that box!" screamed the woman who had that Cabbage patch gold for an hour. She left everything hopping over the people struggling to get up. There was a frenzied tossing of fallen boxes by shoppers now converged upon the accident scene.
"Nope! Nope! Nope!'
"Halleluiah! A miracle! I found one!" Another Cabbage Patch Doll was lifted above the crowd moving quickly away from the fallen.
"Come back! Manager! Manager!" The cry became a chorus.
"Alright. Alright. Calm down. What seems to be the problem?" It must have been the manager. I would love to have heard what was said but the line took a sudden rush to the front and I moved with it. More shoppers were running toward the point of confusion I had just left.
There were shouts of "There's CP dolls on the floor where the manager is! He brought some out!"
It wasn't true. The thief had been seen running with that box held above her head. She was shouting she had found one. The crowd took up the call. The store began to tilt in the direction of the manager who was yelling for help. He kept yelling we're sold out! at the top of his lungs but it did not diminish the Cabbage Patch fever of the newly formed mob. I saw one person running back with a coil of rope yelling, "Hang the son off a (bleep)!"
Luckily I had reached the register and handed the lady my card. She swiped it and I was on my way out when stopped by a harried shopper, "Where'd you get that doll?"
"Oh, this? I got it at the back of the store. I heard the manager was putting out a fresh supply." I smiled and said, "Merry Christmas."
"And Merry Christmas to you too," she said jumping into the mob moving to the rear of the store.
I heard one last "HELP!" as I hit the bar of the door leading to the parking lot. Christmas, it's the most wonderful time of the year.