My Black Friday Heart

Earlier this month I saved my husband money by purchasing a rug at TJMAXX for 79.99, that easily would have sold for three- or five times as much in a store like Pottery Barn or Anthropologie. Aren’t I a good wife? Well, most of the time I am; but do I really believe I saved my husband money? No. But I do believe a sensible woman knows a deal when she spots one.

I came home grinning. I parked the car and unloaded the purchases (just a few other “saves,” I had found while shopping) but I left the rug curled in the back seat. The plan was to wait until Sunday, that being Cleaning Day: a weekly event I anticipate with an equal mixture of habitual casualness and fizzy alacrity. Waiting would make the whole laying-down-of-the-rug feel like an occasion. Almost ceremonial. As though our bedroom had initiated it. Not one to miss any occasion big or small, I would light candles, play music, the whole nine yards. I am nothing if not theatric.

Sunday arrived, and following a whirlwind of ritualistic fanfare — vacuuming, straightening, dusting, wiping down of all surfaces soft and hard — it was time. I went to the car where the rug had remained coiled for the last forty-eight hours, and after carefully hoisting it onto my shoulders, I escorted Her Ladyship inside the house. Then gently, on hands and knees, I unrolled the tapestry using a flourish like the breast stroke, smoothing down the surface, plucking the loose fibers, and finally, settling the edges and corners at precisely the right angles. Three hours later . . . No — that would just be absurd! Of course it only took two hours. (And fifty-nine minutes.) . . . some while later, I made my way to a spot where I could best admire and dote on my new rug. I stood on my bed.

Can I be honest? It was gorgeous. I may have let out a squeal. Or two. And kicked my heels together. Three times. And shimmied up and down. That’s all, though.

After an adequate amount of alone time with my new rug, I went out and into the living room where my husband was sitting on the couch with a bag of pumpkin seeds in one hand and a spit cup in the other. He was watching a hockey game. I glanced at the TV. 3-2, Ducks, with a little more than a minute left on the clock. I asked him to come and take a look at our bedroom, though refused to tell him exactly what it was he would be looking at. I asked him sweetly and slyly, with an air of coquettish allure. And when that didn’t work I stamped my foot and threatened violence. Just what, pray tell, is the point of owning a DVR if not with which to oblige your wife when she’s spent the afternoon scrubbing your porcelain throne? Indeed.

Well, even my husband agreed it was the most spectacular woven thing he’d ever laid eyes on. The most beautiful of all rugs that have ever been and will ever be. As we held each other, unashamed of our tight brows and flowing tears, I took the opportunity to whisper the set of new rules with which the rug had come. Although we (me) uphold a strong “No Shoes” policy in our bedroom, more often than not — usually when one of us is in a hurry to grab a forgotten wallet, wedding ring, a matching shoe — the rules are forsook and replaced with expediency. Am I really going to unlace my boots just to walk eight feet across the room and retrieve my wedding ring? No. I am crazy and compulsive, but not that crazy and compulsive. With the inauguration of the rug, however, all that would change.

And so, for the next two weeks, each time one of us entered our bedroom, we would first remove our shoes and then sidle along the bookshelf, and through the narrow passage way I had built from door to closet. Generally speaking, I am sweaty person. I sweat while reading, applying make-up, chewing gum, and I could fill a koi pond with the sweat I produce within an hour of cardiovascular exercise. Summer is my nemesis. There are days when I would like nothing better than to leave the house wearing several rolls of Bounty. That said, the purpose of not allowing my bare feet to touch the rug immediately after removing my shoes is to give the carpet time to absorb that sweat. Gross and a little strange? Yes, perhaps; but surely no more odd than using whatever’s handy as a shield to block out the beating sun while driving. (Coats work best, if you can trap them in the window; but in a pinch I’ve used napkins and mail.) As I said, for the next fourteen days both my husband and I took the necessary precautions, making concerted efforts to avoid stepping on the rug prematurely. And there it remained, The Crown Jewel of our bedroom, resplendent, majestic, worthy of all our praise. The rug was . . . magnificent.

Until my dog peed on it.

Maybe you will have heard about select stores modifying their hours this year to allow the public to take advantage of Black Friday deals as early as Thanksgiving. Call me traditional, because I am, but I was no less than horrified. I stared at the T.V. in horror. “But it’s . . . Thanksgiving.” As one friend put it, “What could you possibly need that can’t wait until next week?” Now, I understand those deals don’t last. That if you don’t get there bright and early, or, in this year’s case, dark and sleepy, you would miss the opportunity to pay $199 for a spiffy new iPad Mini with a $75 instant rebate. Tempting. For me, though, it wasn’t a tough decision. I won’t lie. If you ducked out early on Thanksgiving, leaving your friends and family oooing and ahhing over Aunt Jenny’s pumpkin bread pudding, I judged you. I thought you selfish and superficial, and myself just a little more virtuous.

Thanksgiving night, after we arrived home from a lovely evening over at my uncle’s house, Bubba and I curled up in bed and watched Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets. At some point over the course of those two hours, my darling Bella lowered her abdomen to the floor and piddled on my precious rug. At first I could only stare in disbelief. Then I pinched my arms. A nightmare, it’s only a nightmare, Cara, you’ll wake up any second now. I did not wake up. My temper flared, and I cursed her for not urinating six inches to the left. That I could have endured. But not my rug. My ruuuuuug!!!!

It was while whimpering and muttering and dabbing the crimson mosaic pattern with soapy warm water that I realized Black Friday had entered my heart. And probably not only on Thanksgiving, but several times throughout the year. Do I still think it’s a poor choice to sacrifice a moment of Thanksgiving, even if half of your relatives are passed out in the living room and the other half appears to be no more alert and engaged in passive digestion? Yes, I do. Because time with family and friends is fleeting and finite, and things can’t wrap their arms around you when you’re sick or sad. If I’m wrong, if in fact there does exist something capable of bringing you true joy and lasting contentment, then by all means, you should probably leave and go buy it. And if for more than a few days you find yourself happy and full, feeling the way one does after good food with good people, please, let me know. I’d be interested. Because my experience with buying has revealed only brief euphorias, and at best, a surface familiarity. My experience is that which boasts a price tag assumes an inevitable expiration date.

I learned something important this year. Something that, truthfully, I’m certain I already knew and had only forgotten. I learned that a rug is a thing. Possibly a very, very, very beautiful thing — but still, highly vulnerable to urine.

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. Happy Sunday, everyone!

. . . . you know I wouldn’t deprive you a look after all that build up! Here it is. “The Rug.”

photo

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10 thoughts on “My Black Friday Heart

  1. What a wonderful reminder of what truly is valuable and eternal and how easily we are distracted from such things. Thank you for that gentle (and humorous) reminder of what’s important.

    And I agree with “Revelations in Writing” that you have a beautifully gigantic and loving heart. 🙂

  2. So true! Trinkets and baubles make our house look cozy and inviting, but the unconditional love and companionship of our 4 legged children make our home worth living in. My dining room chairs have bite marks on the rungs and my leather sofa has a few chew marks on the trim, and that’s okay with me. The joy they bring far outweighs the occasional damage we incurred.

    P.S. I love your Christmas card. After reading it several times, I finally discovered Bella wrapped up in the background. It was like discovering Waldo, only this time it was “Where’s Bella?” I think I see a Christmas card tradition in the making. 😉

    Love you!

    Lori

    • You are not the first to overlook that smudge in the background, Lori! We had no idea our “shopping” Bella into the photo would turn our Christmas card into a game, but clearly it did, and I rather like your suggestion of an annual card, complete with “Where’s Bella?”. I’ll have to mention that to the Mr.

      Love to you.

  3. I am completely guilty of buying decorative things that, in the end, only collect dust (but still look beautiful anyway). After graduating, I bought so much stuff ot remake my room, and it was very satisfying because I felt that, at the same time, I was also reamking myself – the new and improved, MFA-toting Kim. I needed that. A physical representation that I was moving beyond my academic years.

    And yeah, my room just got cuter, Haha. Your story of the rug is something I can totally relate to. It is a gorgeous rug – and of course, you got it for a great deal – and I was grinning when I read about how hard you and your husband tried not to sully it, haha. But yeah, at the end of the day, a rug’s a rug. It’s purpose is being stepped on. I’m sure that once that hapened, the rug was like, “Yes! I can live out my life’s purpose now. Please step on me!” Hahaha. I’m sure you’re taking good care of it. And yes, dogs (as adorable as they are) always gravitate towards rugs. When my mom bought a new rug for the back room, my dog Misty threw up on it after a few months. It was horrible, but funny too, because it was bound to happen.

    I’m glad you stayed home for Black Friday. It’s dangerous out there! Apparently, nothing too outlandish happened where I live, but I like to enjoy my shopping at a leisurely pace. So fighting tooth and nail for something I can buy any day isn’t so fun. But… there’s always ordering online! Black Friday via online shopping is much more thrilling / relaxing. Too bad I didn’t do it this year, haha.

    • I think we will always attempt to fill up our holes with things, even though – some more than others – we’re aware consuming never works the way we intend for it, or for very long. Things do have purposes; they bring delight, meet needs, and seek to give an environment a personality and heartbeat. But yes, a rug is just a rug and always will be a rug no matter how lovely it is. I think you’re right: I think the rug let out a whoop of joy as my sweet Chi soiled its fibers. Then maybe it sighed, breathing, “Finally, I can relax now.” 🙂

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