In the immortal words of John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) just before the Sex Pistols walked off stage after performing only one song at a US concert:
Ever feel like you've been cheated?
Ever stood on line to see a movie that got four star reviews and fallen asleep in the theatre from sheer boredom? Ever dined in an expensive restaurant and discovered that the restrooms were filthy and had no soap? Ever gone to a concert you'd been looking forward to and found your mind wandering off in the middle of it, wishing that you'd stayed home watching bad TV shows instead? Ever bought the latest CD by a cool band you'd "discovered" and realized they've sold out?
When anticipation doesn't live up to reality, you have two options. You can either be honest about it, or you can try to convince yourself that you're having a great time anyway. Let's face it: if you're visiting New York from another part of the country or the world and you spend one to two hundred bucks a pop to see some overrated Broadway musical monstrosity, are you really going to admit to yourself that it totally sucked? If you go to New York's Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and wind up in the hospital after a giant M and M balloon goes haywire, are you going to complain or cheerfully say you'll be back next year? (Personally, I think the two women who got injured last year should have sued the city, Macy's, and M and M's, but that's just me. Instead, I believe they actually came back this year for more. This year, they kept the balloons low-flying.)
The sad fact is that my boyfriend BG and I are getting old(ish) and jaded. Between the two of us, we've developed PTSD from too many disappointing outings over the years. And as a result, although we live in "glam-packed" New York City, at this point we lead what most people would consider to be very boring lives. But we've often joked about the futility of running around trying to have a good time even if it kills us.
Some of this inertia, of course, is due to the fact that BG and I don't always agree on what constitutes a good time. I love to eat out. BG was a cook for many years, and now prepares nothing more complicated than hot dogs and hates anything more high class than Wendy's. I'd love to see some off-off-Broadway plays; BG would rather get knitting needles inserted in his eyes. I love Law and Order; BG would rather watch the lamest movie rerun than sit through one episode.
The thing is that by the time we'd met each other, our youthful days of exploring the city had been replaced by a "been there, done that" mentality. Taking a gamble on an outing no longer seemed worth the time, trouble, or expense. And sure enough, when we do venture out, more often than not we're disappointed.
In any case, the potential horrors of Black Friday — the frenzied shopping day after Thanksgiving — made me feel a little less pathetic about the fact that not only was I staying in that day, but that my Thanksgiving dinner from the night before had consisted of bad take-out from the semi-unsavory diner down the road. I always thought that after a good Thanksgiving meal, everyone snored in front of the TV; but apparently all over the land folks were not even giving their turkey a chance to digest before going to stand in line for hours to be the first person hurling toward the door of Best Buy or J.C. Penney, stomping on other people's thoraxes on the frenetic rush to get in. The stores, of course, enable this insanity by promising deep discounts on items such as cheapo laptops or video games (quantities limited), and frenzied shoppers then behave like crack addicts at a free sample sale.
As I sat safe and snug in BG's apartment, I couldn't help but marvel over this behavior. What would drive people to such madness? It was quite simple, really. For all intents and purposes, Christmas had begun as soon as Santa waved to the crowd as he brought up the rear at the Thanksgiving day parade. For many people, I suspected that December 25 would be an all-too-brief — if not downright disappointing — denouement to all this maniacal anticipation.