Set the day before, after scouring the ads, making multiple lists, and setting priorities. A multi-prong approach was deemed most effective, since both Walmart and Shopko were opening at the exact same time. Striker would head up the solo Team Delta at Walmart. Lucky Lynda and MLB would doubleteam Shopko. Wary Winston would be responsible for homebase monitoring of the Sleeper Cell. Alarm clocks set and watches synchronized for 3:00am, out the door at 3:30.
Striker wore jeans, a t-shirt, his polar fleece, and called it good. Of course he'd be waiting for the electronics section of Walmart to open INSIDE THE STORE.
Mother Love Bone and Lucky Lynda, on the other hand, wore several layers of long underwear, gloves, fleece-lined jeans, wool sweaters, and down jackets. There was talk of heated hand warmers, but none were to be found at 3:30 in the morning. MLB also sported a jaunty hat.
The jacket belonged to Winston and was several sizes too big.
Lucky and MLB dispatched to Shopko while Striker headed out to the northern wilds of Walmart. From the field there were reports of people wearing several layers of jackets, wrapped in wool blankets as they clutched steaming cups of hot cocoa.
Mother Love Bone waited in line while Lucky took the first shift inside the car. MLB tried to text Striker but her fingers froze in the -6 temperature.
Attempting to keep her brain warm, Mother Love Bone composed possible post titles based on what she was witnessing on the pre-dawn frozen tundra. Biggest contenders were: The Largest Hat I've Ever Seen, Is There Really a Baby Under Those Blankets, No Wait You're Taking a Baby Shopping at 3am for Black Friday, and Seriously What Are You Going To Do With That Baby When People Start Stampeding.
Mother Love Bone wondered if it was possible to ever feel her calves again. She felt her eyelids stick to her bottom eyelashes a couple of times.
Meanwhile Striker took off his fleece because he was feeling a little toasty inside Walmart. And then someone came by and gave him FREE DONUTS.
Countdown to Greatness:
After warming in the car for a bit, MLB joined Lucky Lynda in line. Lucky had lived up to her name and shopping prowess, and had befriended a few people ahead of her, thus enabling Lucky and MLB to move a bit closer to the door.
It was decided that MLB would head directly to electronics to pick up their number one shopping priority, a dual screen DVD player for the car. A stellar deal and also a life-changer for long car rides. Lynda would be heading straight back through the store to the toy section. Her aim wasn't anything specific, though a couple of items seemed like good deals. She and MLB would meet up again, luck willing, after acquiring their purchases.
In the Doors:
The rush! The madness! The pushing!
This is the only photo MLB was able to capture. It pretty much explains everything.
Mother Love Bone ducked, weaved, bobbed, maneauvered, tried to run, and ultimately was unable to find the DVD player. They sold out in 1 minute. Defeated, she made her way back to Lucky.
Lucky's response to MLB's sad news: Let me see what I can do. Wait here, I'll be right back.
And so she waited.
And waited. Watching women run by with carts piled high with baby dolls and video cameras.
Her phone rang a few minutes later. Lynda on the line, "Where are you?"
When they met up again, Lynda handed Mother Love Bone a box. THE DVD PLAYER. Mother Love Bone's response, "HOW THE HECK DID YOU FIND THIS? YOU REALLY ARE SO LUCKY!"
Lynda explained that she just asked the dude behind the counter, if they had any more, and he just pulled this one from behind the counter. The last one. Someone must've put it back. She also held several digital music/video players saying, "Everyone was just grabbing these, so I thought I should too."
This is when Mother Love Bone hugged Lucky Lynda.
The rest of stop number one was a blur of line waiting (snaking through eight or nine aisles in the store). It was during this time that MLB grabbed the following incidental items: toothpaste, eucalyptus for Sleeper Cell's warm mist humidifier, and a pack of fruit mentos.
Piles and Piles:
The next stop was Joann Fabric, a few minutes after their initial opening. MLB's intended target was some flannel for the screaming deal of $1.29 a yard, and buttons, which were buy-one-get-one-free with an additional 20% off the top. Neither she nor Lucky Lynda were prepared for what they saw: wall to wall people.
People everywhere. In the aisles and in the walkway and snaking in a line towards the registers. And in every person's hands: fabric. Bolts of fabric towering high overhead, piled teetering in shopping carts. Tied to small floor-level luggage racks. Fabric fabric fabric. The line to have fabric cut was several hours long. Mother Love Bone told Lucky, "Let's just come back later. Let's get these buttons now, but come back a little later for the fabric. This is insane.
After Joann's it was Old Navy. After Old Navy it was JC Penny.
Mother Love Bone ate the tube of fruit Mentos for breakfast. She wandered through the mall while Lucky shopped at Penny's.
MLB briefly pondered standing in this line at Bath and Body Works for buy 3, get 3 free.
Then she thought better of it.
And that is how they found themselves back at the house before 9am: eating cinnamon rolls and comparing receipts.
They offered Striker no sympathy when he said he'd been really bored and tired at Walmart, though he did successfully acquire his intended electronic purchase. Which, incidentally, they returned a day later after rethinking its value and necessity. So it goes with the Black Friday Assault Force: you win some and you return some and sometimes you eat free donuts.
But for the sake of this narrative, after eating breakfast, MLB and Lucky Lynda went out again.
Because they are crazy.
Which is how they came to be back at Joann's, marveling that the fabric cutting line was even longer than before. And when Mother Love Bone spied this in an aisle, she decided that $1.29 flannel just isn't worth it.
(In case you need translating: that is two full grown MEN sound asleep on the floor at Joann's. SOUND ASLEEP.
Then Mother Love Bone and Lucky Lynda hung up their shopping shoes for another year and went back home.