Saturday, July 23, 2016

True Story from Long Island



I received an interesting response to my "softball" post" from a friend who lives in NYC, also has a place on Water Island (part of  or near Long Island). His name is Tom Anthony. He was one of the country's top music writers/producers back in the day, still writes music and lyrics today. In this case, back in my advertising days, I hired him to write a new music theme for Budweiser. He came through with a remarkable piece of music that carried Bud for several years. The line was "You make America Work, and this Bud's for you." He also used to play a mean trumpet; probably doesn't have the lip today but still has the soul. 

Here are his comments about his career in softball. Read it and weep.

"To begin, I was probably the worst ballplayer around back in the day. But I remember one game of softball.  It was on the beach in a place called Bayberry Dunes, about three miles away from Water Island. There was an ad biz copywriter on the other team named Ron Salzberg, who was more than amazing, given that he was left-handed and played second base.  That's hard enough on any field, but in the sand? Anyway, I hit a lucky pitch into the ocean, and he chased it and tried to throw me out while standing up to his backside in the water.  He never forgot it and swore to get even.

A couple of years later, he called me in to do the music for the Doublemint Gum "Single Most Favorite Double" campaign.  He introduced me to everyone in the place as "Homer."  I didn't argue.  But I didn’t complain either.  We won two Clios.


If I tried to run those bases now, I'd still be halfway to first, but probably on my face in the sand."

Here are some pics from the vault, of Tom from a visit Mary Lee and I had with him many years ago, when we were both still "in the biz." That beautiful woman with him is his wife Stephanie, artist and singer. Remind me sometime to tell you about the remarkable lobster dinner we had at his place on Water Island. 



Monday, July 18, 2016

The Late Innings

Up until a month ago, I believed I still cut an awesome figure on the softball field. 
I moved swiftly around the bases, getting from home to first in under 10 seconds, scooting down to second, stopping to catch my breath, faking towards third, then stepping safely back to second. 

In the field, I scooped up grounders (some of them pretty hot), chased down long flies (they seemed long anyway), even pitched a full eight innings on many occasion. This was, to be honest, Senior Slow Pitch Softball. Minimum age: 55. But age is only a number, right? I was a force to be reckoned with. My DeMarini bat, Nike spikes (plastic and blunt, but still they are spikes), Mizuno fielder's glove well oiled and broken in. Even a batting glove, just like the pro's wear. Yep, time is only a figment of the inactive imagination.

There are senior games on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Kind of an open gathering. You show up, sign up 
on a batting order/position board. So each time you play with different guys. Lots of fun, no pressure, and most of the guys are 65 or older. There are a lot of excellent players here, and they're all there to have fun. I play only once a week, sometimes twice. Here's a link to info on it. Kirkwood Senior Softball

The other game is more competitive. It's for 55 and over and it's a league. Once a week, on Tuesdays. This is more serious softball, with some incredibly good players, guys who have won gold medals or ribbons or trophies for winning competitions. Even though I wasn't up to that caliber, I had this invincible belief I could still carry my fair share, or whatever the proper sports analogy would be. My trophy case is empty, my chest bereft of ribbons. I got a gold medal once for winning a game, but that was only because the other guys didn't show up with a full team. Forfeit, actually. Still, a medal is a medal.

Then I got a wake-up call. Four weeks ago. The timing on this was remarkable.  I was leaving for my Tuesday league game, and I had this gnawing feeling that I wasn't playing quite up to my usual self expectations. It wasn't as much fun as it used to be. Some balls were getting by me that I used to snag. There were fewer and fewer "attaboys" and "way to go." I told Mary Lee, as I was leaving for the games (we play doubleheaders in this league), "I'm thinking I will quit after the games today." And I meant it. She was supportive, said whatever I wanted to do, but I knew she was glad, and her words as I hustled out to my car were, "Don't get hurt." Always her parting admonition. And I always say, "Don't worry. I won't." How's that for a dumb response?

I played the first game. Not a lot of fun but we won and I was okay. I called her. "Hey, the first game is over. I didn't get hurt." Then we started the second game. Late in the game, I covered second base on a grounder to the third baseman. The runner on second broke for third, the third baseman looked at him, started to throw the ball to me. The runner headed back to second. The throw came, I caught it, the runner hit me, full frontal. I held the ball, the runner was out...but something had slipped or bent in my rib cage. It hurt. I said something to the runner about his being too demonstrative (not my exact words). I finished the game, even slashed a single to right in my last at bat. (Yes, slashed!!). 

That night my chest hurt. I think I had re-injured a broken rib from this past February. I called Jim, the team manager, and told him I quit. He was sympathetic, even angry that the guy had run into me. Jim has his own problems, struggling with COPD. So ended my higher level of competition on the diamond. I wasn't able to play softball or tennis or bike ride for almost four weeks.

Last Friday, I returned to the field for the older and slower game. The "pitcher" line on the sign-up sheet was blank. I put my name down. I like to pitch. Which I did. Close game. Got into the late innings, we were up by one run. Other team down to their last couple of outs. Hard hitter up there. A younger guy, under 70. Had hit a long-ball home run previous at bat. I lofted one of my hard-to-hit spinning bloopers towards the plate. He took a swing, connected, and less than a nanosecond later the ball was headed at me at about 300 mph. I didn't think. Went to pure reflex. Put up my glove, next to my heart, and the ball went into the glove. I don't think I even remember what happened after that. We won the game and, thanks to remarkable luck, I wasn't dead or headed to the ER.

I decided that afternoon I would not pitch anymore. I will play only where I can get out of the way of hard-hit balls or fast-moving runners. I will not put myself in harm's way. I will not depend on luck to keep me vertical. Like Stan the Man, Sugar Ray, Michael Jordan, I know when time is moving on. No, it's not time to quit. Just time to listen to my wife. "Be careful. Don't get hurt."


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Missouri in the Middle

It started with a trip my wife and I took to Marceline, Missouri in May. That's about 3 hours northwest of St. Louis. The Disney Museum is located here, alongside a railroad track. I had recently read a biography of Walt Disney, and Marceline figured prominently in his development. He grew up on a farm there, at a time when the town was a major stopping and refueling spot for the Sante Fe Railroad. 






He honed his imagination, moved to Kansas City to discover a mouse, then to Hollywood and the rest is history. But before he left Marceline, while in grade school, he carved his initials in his desk. It's in the museum, along with a treasure trove of letters, sketches; family, personal and school items.




















After 4 hours in Marceline, we headed south to Independence and spent the next day at the magnificent Harry Truman Library. The building is beautifully designed, complete with roses around the entrance. If you think politics is ugly today, know that Harry had his share. You could spend a complete day here if you cared to. One of the things I remember about Harry is that, after he left office, he never accepted any money for speaking engagements. He refused to use the Office of the President for personal gain. 

Jump forward three weeks now, to the third floor outdoor balcony of the Lewis and Clark Restaurant in historic St. Charles. That’s where I had the good fortune to have lunch with distinguished author and adventurer John Robinson, whose column appears regularly in County Living magazine; and the publisher of County Living, Todd Abrams. Sometime between the arrival of my Arnold Palmer and my pulled pork daily special, a fascinating subject came up: The unique position Missouri holds in America. It’s a combination of the yin and yang of America, along with a diverse crop of men and women who had roots here, either by birth or residency. Putting it together, I realized we live at the cultural, historic and geographic crossroads of America.

Let’s start with St. Louis and Kansas City, a contrast separated by more than the width of the State.  St. Louis belongs to the East. Traditional, established, seasoned, energetic yet cautious. The Arch may be the Gateway to the West, but Kansas City is actually The West. Rugged, contemporary, confident, dotted with daring architecture and visionary endeavors.
The contrast continues with the Civil War. The Blue and Gray not only battled here, but divided the State in sentiment and struggle. Sure, we voted to stay with the Union, but a large contingent of rebel-minded folks cheered for Robert E. Lee. We’re a Northern state, we’re a Southern state. It depends where you get off the train.

Missouri is also home to the many faces of Nature: tornadoes, blizzards, bitter cold, sweltering heat; graceful Springs and colorful Autumns; streams, lakes, and rivers (the nation’s 3 greatest rivers meet here: the Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio);  flatlands and low mountains and gentle hills; and a plethora of wildlife. (I’ve always wanted to use “plethora” in a column).

Now to mention some distinguished Missourians. This is where Mr. Robinson jumped in enthusiastically. I already told you about Truman and Disney. When it comes to literary lions, John began adding names such as Twain, T.S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams, William Burroughs, Eugene Field and Mort Walker (writer AND cartoonist!). Key military leaders dating back to the Civil War include Grant, Sherman, Sterling Price, Pershing, and Omar Bradley. 

Let’s talk shopping. J. C. Penney was born on a farm in Caldwell County. There is no truth to the story that his first words were “Attention, J. C. Penney shoppers.” Harlow Shapleigh, an astronomer, was born on a farm in Nashville, Missouri, and a student at U. of Missouri. He correctly estimated the size of the Milky Way galaxy. And that was without any help from Google.

The famous Betty Grable pin-up
Speaking of Google, I used it to find “Famous Missourians.” Here are a few favorites of mine I pass along - some familiar, some not. Josephine Baker, Susan Blow, Dale Carnegie (I should have read his book years ago), Walter Cronkite, George Caleb Bingham, Thomas Hart Benton, Edwin Hubble, Dred Scott, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Buck O’Neill, Stan Musial, Emmett Kelly, and, finally, three of my favorites - Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers, and Robert Heinlein. I have a weakness for blondes and sci-fi authors. 

I’ve left out a lot of familiar names and influential people, especially politicians. Here’s what you can do to broaden your horizon, not that anything is wrong with your horizon. Google your way through the State’s history; take a trip to a small town; buy one of John Robinson’s entertaining and informative books; John Robinson's Book Or send me a check for $20 to further my literary career. (Just kidding about that last item.)


On behalf of John, Todd and myself: Welcome to Missouri.



(Note: This column is in the current Summer issue of County Living Magazine.)




Monday, April 25, 2016

Welcome to the Dog Days of Spring


It’s all in their eyes. They know when Spring has arrived, that the gray days of snow and ice and slippery slopes are past. I can tell they know, because of the way they look at me. This is non-verbal communication at its most advanced. 

Sadie and Lexi, my golden retrievers, have this way of talking to me. They silently compel me to think in terms of “walk” and “ride” and “hike” and “get the tennis balls and let’s go outside.” Dogs, I’m convinced, have some sort of sixth sense, a cosmic canine calendar.

As a side note, they also have an internal clock, which tells them when it’s 10 p.m. and time for their walk. I can be watching TV, “live” or recorded or DVD - doesn’t matter - and they will stroll over, sit in front of me and stare. I try to explain, “There’s only ten minutes left in ‘Game of Thrones’; I can’t stop now.” They don’t care. They always get their way.

When you have a dog, any kind of dog, Spring takes on an added dimension. It’s physical, it’s mental, it’s extremely social. Dogs have a way of urging you to make friends with other dog owners. It never fails. I like to take Sadie and Lexi for walks in Queeny Park or Weldon Spring State Park. Invariably I’ll meet people also enjoying the fine weather, leash in one hand, poop bag in the other. We’ll stop and talk. “How old is he?” “Where did you get her?” “Does that kind of dog shed?” “Does he always drool like that?” And so it goes.Yes, these meetings also happen in winter, but the exchanges then are brief and to the point: “Pretty dog,” “Enjoy your walk,” and you’re gone.

I tend to evaluate people on two basic attributes: if they have a sense of humor, and whether they have a dog. Either one works for me, with the dog thing taking preference. Well, mostly. If it’s a little dog that yaps the entire time we’re talking, I tend to be in a hurry to move on. Don’t be offended if you own a vocally demonstrative dog. “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.” I think Plato said that. He probably owned a quiet, philosophical dog.

But I’ll tell you who my real heroes are. It’s those men and women who own rescue dogs. These are dedicated people who not only understand how special dogs are, they take the next step. They save these dogs, to hike and play another day. As I stand there talking to them, my two breeder-bought goldens next to me, and they tell me “This is a rescue dog,” they suddenly take on an elevated status in my eyes. They took the risk of adopting a dog often with unknown origins, sketchy background, questionable treatment and health, and committed their time and energy - and, often, expenses - for an indeterminate number of years. Somewhere, in a dog park or at the Dog Museum in Queeny, there should be a statue in honor of The Rescue Dog Owner. 

True story. On a mild day in late March, I took Sadie and Lexi for a hike in Weldon Spring State Park. Afterwards I felt like having a cold beer. So we headed for Defiance - to the biker bar where 94 makes a hard cut left and right. 


As I stood outside with a bottle of Busch in hand, surrounded by manly men and cool chicks, feeling a little out of place, a rather large fellow and his good-looking babe approached me. He was probably in his mid-forties, muscular, short beard, tattooed arms, owner of a Harley. Oh-oh, I thought. He knows I’m not a biker and don’t belong here, even though I was striking my most manly pose, leaning against the railing like Brando did in “The Wild One”, steely glint in my eyes which, unfortunately, were hidden behind my RayBans. I nodded at the two of them. “Good lookin’ dogs,” he said. “So sweet,” she said. My dogs’ tails wagged furiously. Twenty minutes later we were still talking. He and his girlfriend told me about their dogs, five of them, all rescued from a variety of situations. All of them loved. Lesson learned: You can’t judge a book etc. 

There’s a lot more I could say on the subject, but it’s a pretty day, the dogs are looking at me, and you know what that means. Happy Spring.




Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Pay Attention

The ancient Roman poet Ovid listed Four Ages of Man: Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron. From where I sit, it looks like we are now living in the Age of Distraction. Admittedly not a metal but an important component of our society. We have available to us an endless array of devices that feed us information, entertainment, and the only means of keeping in touch with our kids.

No, I’m not going to bore you with my views on social media. Even though much of it isn’t social. What’s on my mind today is Conversation. The old-fashioned kind, face-to-face, eye-to-eye. With no distractions. 

Here’s what brought this to mind. Recently my wife and I had Sunday brunch with another couple at a local restaurant. I emphasize “restaurant” because it was not a “sports bar.” However, this restaurant was festooned with TV screens. On the walls, hanging from the ceiling. The other couple are long-time friends. They’re trying to sell their house after 35 years accumulation of stuff. (He has over a thousand movies on videotape, which he wants to keep.) She, on the other hand, is not a pack-rat. So there was much to discuss and resolve.

As we sat there, I found my eyes drifting over to one of the many Hi-Def monitors. A football game was on. I didn’t know who was playing. I really didn’t care. But there were large, helmeted men in colorful outfits knocking each other to the ground and stomping on them. How can you not watch that? I bounced in and out of the conversation. I struggled to maintain eye contact. My attention kept shifting back to one of the screens, hoping to catch a long pass or a remarkable run or even the cheerleaders cheering.   Before I knew it, brunch was over, and we never did resolve what to do with his videotapes. 

There  must be a new category of Interior Designer for restaurants. Call it Strategic Screen Placement Director. First prerequisite: Put a screen in every line of sight. So wherever the customer sits, they can still catch all the action. The “Post-Installation” phase of this service is also critical. Selecting which screens carry baseball, hockey, figure skating, the Final Four, the Triple Crown, the Masters, Wimbledon. And how about that delightful sport called Extreme Boxing? The “no rules” version, where guys use their feet, their fists, their heads, even their teeth and bad breath as weapons of pain. It reminds me of the “Mad Max” movies.

I understand the concept of a Sports Bar. You need lots of screens for that. But why does a restaurant think we need continuous entertainment? My favorite Chinese restaurant installed a really huge screen last year. It rivals the Galaxy IMAX. You can see it from everywhere, even the parking lot. What little atmosphere they had is gone. As I enjoy my egg foo young or curry shrimp, I find myself hanging on “the next play,” hoping they sink the putt or slash a single to right. You’d think they could at least show scenes of a Yangtze River Cruise, a hike along The Great Wall, even Ching-He Huang on the Cooking Channel.

I miss the fine art of uninterrupted conversation, of minimum distraction from your food and your partner. If not a lost art, then one that is quickly disappearing. Of course I’m talking about most mid-level and below restaurants, the kind I usually patronize. Your upscale joints may have one screen in the bar. Probably not, if they’re really upscale (aka expensive). The only distraction may be the bill.


Next time you go out, take this test. No pencil or paper required. Simply focus on the menu, the waiter, the food, the beverage of choice, and - most importantly - the person seated across from you. Whether you’re talking or listening, make every effort to maintain eye contact. You can do it, but it won’t be easy. Especially if the bases are loaded in the bottom of the ninth. 

(Originally published in County Living Magazine, Winter/Early Spring, 2016)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

That Night, Again...Again

     Jesse shoved his dead beagle out of the way with his bare foot and set another log on the fire, watched the smoke curl around it for a second, then leaned back in his cracked red leather easy chair.  “Okey-dokey,” he said.  His favorite word.  He reached for the cup of hot cocoa on the tv tray, let the sweet steam waft up into his nostrils, and smiled.  He took a small sip.  A bit of melted marshmallow clung to his upper lip.  He felt it sitting there, wiped it off with the back of his hand.



“Bet you would’ve liked some hot cocoa, Samson,” he said to the immobile dog.  Samson had been dead four days now, but he was the only company Jesse had.  Better a dead dog than no one.  Even if Samson had still been breathing, Jesse wouldn’t have given him any cocoa.  He knew that chocolate was bad for a dog, something about their digestive system not being able to handle it.  And he sure wouldn’t have done it with just one more day til Christmas.  Ain’t no way to find a decent vet on Christmas day, he knew.  All the good ones are at home with family or on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, he figured.  


Outside, a soft snow began spreading its stark winter blanket across the neighborhood.  The first snow of the year, and what better time than on the night before Christmas.  He looked out the window.  “Okey-dokey.” 


Jesse thought about the dogs of his life.  His best friends.  Dogs that died before they left puppyhood, dogs that trembled and slept into old-age.  Samson was one of his favorite dogs, probably the last one he’d ever have.  “Got you the year after Emma passed,” said Jesse.  He remembered other Christmas eves, when Emma would hang the stockings on the mantle, wrap last minute presents, slide chocolate chip cookies out of the oven.  Forty-six years of chocolate chip cookies must be some kind of record, both for baking and eating, he thought.  He wondered how many chips of chocolate had melted down on their behalf.


Emma had gone off her meds before she passed, twelve years ago.  Except she didn’t know she had.  She had become impossible to live with, drove Jesse up one wall and down another with her incessant complaining and whining, her mind melting down like those chocolate chips.  So he dumped her meds, all seven bottles of them, down the toilet, replaced them with placeboes.  He liked that word “placebo.”   It took a couple of weeks, but eventually Emma passed in her sleep.  “A peaceful placebo departure,” said Jesse at his most poetic. 


He lifted Samson by his tail, half off the floor, to reveal the tattered book under his rump.  He picked it up and turned to the first page.  He always felt a thrill when he read aloud the very first line.  “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house...”  What magic, what power, what craftsmanship.  Not “It was the night before,” but “Twas.”  Not “Christmas Eve,” but “the night before Christmas.”  Jesse stretched his legs out to let the fire warm his bare toes.  Samson slid across the hearth to the edge of the fire.  Outside the snow thickened, swirled, piled along the curbs and bushes.  The street lay silent, no headlights, no crunch of tires. 


Jesse continued his annual ritual aloud, to deaf, floppy ears.  “Not a creature was stirring...” He stopped on that line and laughed.  “You can say that again” and looked at Samson.  “...not even a mouse,  The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.”  Jesse looked at the mantle.  Yep, the stockings were still there.  He had never gotten around to taking them down from last  year, although Emma had complained about that until midsummer. 


Jesse got as far as “... had just settled down for a long winter’s nap” when he smelled the burning, an acrid smell that was neither oak nor hickory.  He looked down at the fireplace.  Samson was smoking.  Or at least the fur on his backside was, turning the dull brown fur into stringy black ash.   “Move away, dog,” he said, and reached over and scooted Samson to the side.  Luckily the dog had not burst into flame yet, and as the smoke subsided, Jesse approached the conclusion of the poem.  He stopped before the last page.  “Not so fast, not so fast,” he thought.  “Gotta let the magic last a little longer.”  He drained the cup, scooped the remaining marshmallow with his finger and licked it clean.  “Okey......”  He felt his eyes getting heavy.  The fire, the cocoa, the snow, his dog.  “How lucky I am,” he said aloud.  His eyes started to close.  But he had to get to the part about “But he heard him exclaim as he rose out of sight ...” and the rest of it.  His head nodded and his chin dropped to his chest.


The peace was shattered by a loud rap-rapping at his door.  Jesse lifted his head.  “Who could that be, Samson?”  He struggled out of his chair, shuffled to the door.  Another series of rap-rap-rapping, this time louder.  “Keep your shirt on, I’m coming, fast as I can,” said Jesse.  He opened the door.  And what to his wondering eyes should appear, but Santa Claus standing there, with no shirt on. 


“Sorry  couldn’t keep my shirt on,” said Santa.  “Are you named Jesse?”


Jesse nodded.  This was wonderful beyond belief. 


“Then let’s go for a ride,” said Santa with a hearty laugh, making his stomach shake like a bowl full of jelly.  He slipped on his red coat.


“I’ll get my coat,” said Jesse.


“No need to.  I’ve got a propane heater in my sleigh.  I just wear this because it’s expected.”  He laughed again.   “Here we go.”


Jesse and Santa walked out to the sleigh and climbed in behind the eight reindeer.  “Good looking reindeer,” said Jesse.


“I take good care of ‘em.  Thanks for noticing.”


“Bet you never give ‘em any chocolate.”


Santa smiled.  “You sure know your reindeer.”  He grabbed the reins and gave them a shake.  “Hold on, Jesse.”


As they rose above the house, the neighborhood, the town, Jesse heard Santa shout, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”


“Okey-dokey,” shouted Jesse.

Friday, November 27, 2015

You Can Run but You Can't Hide

It's been headed this way for a couple of weeks now. Like a Tsunami that builds in strength as it nears. And nothing can stop it. So here we are, the day after Thanksgiving, and Black Friday has rolled ashore with what seems to be more power than ever.


It didn't even wait for Friday. Thursday night, after most people had cleaned up the dishes from turkey dinner and should have been watching a football game or a movie...THEY WERE SHOPPING! Really. Many stores and malls had opened their doors at 8:00 PM, and the parking lots were filling up. Black Friday had staged a strategic attack.

Every conceivable type of media has been used to drive the message home. Emails, websites, messaging, TV (network & cable), stacks of mail and newspaper inserts, posters and signs, and more. So I'm not telling you anything you don't know. Here's what you don't know, though. I thought I was impervious to all the deals. But I'm not so sure now. I opened ten pounds of newspaper today and found nine pounds of it was Black Friday specials. 

"Pitch it," I thought. Too late. I had already started looking through the inserts.

At Kohl's I could get a "Foldable gaming chair with onboard speakers" for only $40. Regular price: $100. I don't even play games but that chair looks pretty cool. One of the Door Buster specials was a pair of Dearfoams for only $13. Originally $36!!!! That's more than 50% off. Gotta get a pair for Mary Lee. Even though she already has a pair.

Gordmans has a "single cat tunnel" for 8 bucks. After 1 PM the price goes up to $25. I don't even like cats but how can I pass up a deal like that? Here's one of the best deals I've ever seen. It's at Menards: A 30 Ton Log Splitter with a "Powerful electric start LCT 208cc OHV engine." The price? $799. Sounds like a lot, but that's a SAVINGS OF $800. Maybe I'll get two, give one to a neighbor or friend who has some big logs.

Even though I haven't been to a Sears store in a couple of decades, I've gotta go now. They are offering Wolverine 6" Workboots at 50% off. I know I'm basically retired, but still, a guy's gotta have some Wolverine Workboots, right? For those long, hard days at my iMac.

The list - and the needs and wants - go on and on. Macy's almost giving away coats and shirts and sweaters for next to nothing. JC Penney with a tempting 13-piece set of Cooks Aluminum Nonstick Cookware for a mere $30. Regular price: $100. How can they do that and stay in business? 

And so it goes. From Kmart, Target, Sports Authority, Dick's Sporting Goods. Many I pitched but there are two more I'm headed out to get as soon as I finish writing this. One is a 90" sofa for only $129 at Ashley Furniture Homestore. I have no idea where the store is but I'll find it. And finally, a visit to GanderMTN.
That's where I'll pick up a Glock 42 pistol for $400. The savings is only $30 but still, I've never owned a Glock. This is the year to carry. I'll check out holsters while I'm there.

Don't bother responding to this post. Do yourself a favor. Jump in the car and head to the store - any store - and get a great deal on almost anything you need. Go ahead. Now. Black Friday won't last forever.