Punch Drunk 

Thanksgiving Toil and Trouble


It's almost that time. Stores are advertising sales. Neighbors are unraveling lights. Radio stations are ho-ho-ho-ing and jing-jing-a-linging.

Let's face facts: 'Tis the freakin' season, and that rotund, gin-blossom-cheeked, diabetes factory will be falling down the chimney before you know it. Leading up to that season of joy — or in the case of those who must work on the holidays, despair — is the Black Friday creep and controversy that it entails.

To shop or not to shop? To support the big retail bone grinder and its dutiful vassals who must report on Thanksgiving, or not? These aren't questions to take lightly.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is regarded as the kickoff to the holiday shopping season. The black in Black Friday originally was a negative connotation that Philadelphia police gave the day because of an increase in traffic and crime, but these days it generally means stores will be in the black, turning a profit. Although increased traffic and crime still will make you want to strangle an elf, and really, elf strangulation is not the answer.

Black Friday used to begin in the morning. But in the 2000s it started getting pushed back. By 2011, such retailers as Target and Kohl's were opening at midnight. Then Wal-Mart took the leap, opening on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.

Media have taken to calling the day, Gray or Brown Thursday.

Supporters point to the obvious demand for longer holiday sales hours, saying it creates jobs and strengthens the economy. Others argue that it hurts employees, devalues the holiday and strains the institution of family. That it's undisguised consumerism, the overcommercialization of what's supposed to be a time of love and appreciation.

Despite the debate, in two weeks stores will be open for business on Thanksgiving night, and people who otherwise would be enjoying dinner with family will be working.

Luckily, I've devised a solution to appease the humble proletarians and their supporters. Perhaps you've found yourself in a situation where you must make a rushed attempt at Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family to report to Wal-Mart by 5 p.m. Here's what to do:

While sitting there listening to grandma lament that her youngest grandson will have to miss her pumpkin pie to go toil in a discount sweatshop for peanuts while the Walton family drinks to its success on an Arkansas plantation, you have yourself some turkey. Then you drink yourself some wine. Then repeat that process, again and again. Down that tryptophan and fermented bliss till you're hugging grandma and telling her how much you'll miss her when she's gone.

Next, get a ride to work.

Avoid direct superiors and most of your peers, unless you can convince them to also come in bombed.

Go to the wine section. Continue step one by transferring some of the contents of a bottle of red wine into a can of Diet Coke. Trust me, it'll work. It always works.

At this point your dark overlords will have promised the employees some sort of horrible Thanksgiving gruel mash in an attempt to placate the masses they made come in to work.

Go eat some of that.

Keep guzzling your can of wine.

Start hugging everyone you see and make constant references to your love of the holidays.

Continually make off-color, double-entendre jokes. Something like, "Hey, how's about you pardon this turkey," while pointing below your belt.

In this scenario, pilgrim and Indian jokes are considered fair game too, unless there's a Native American on staff. In that case, just say you're sorry about the whole land-stealing, smallpox-giving, encroachment-turned-banishment that their people endured for 350 years after the original "giving of thanks."

Give that person a can of wine.

Next, find the nativity scene or Santa scene or whatever it is that Wal-Mart locates near the main entrance in an effort to sell ornamental lawn inflatables.

Pass out in that display. It should be comfortable, because no minimum-wage display-builders worth their salt would use anything other than hay or soft bales of cotton as a base for a Santa and the Wise Men Bringing Jesus a "Breaking Bad" Season 5 DVD Gift-Pack scene.

Wake up the next day covered in red-wine vomit.

Walk out of Wal-Mart with your head and middle finger held high.

Go spend time with the ones you love.

You don't need this B.S.

Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also is co-host of "Mornings with Melissa and Jack" on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.


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