My head said “No” but my fingers kept right on fondling the box. I was standing in an aisle of shoes at the back of the Nine West store in the Tanger Outlet of Pigeon Forge, Tenn. The devil works overtime on Black Friday, urging people to spend their Christmas budgets on themselves. I could hear him saying, “This is a good deal. You don’t have any boots like these. If you don’t buy them today, you’ll miss out.”
I scanned the shelves for my size. Maybe the early-bird shoppers had already bought out the sevens. Conflicted in my hope, I pulled out boxes to look behind them.
Aha! 7M. The last pair. Despite the internal battle raging around Christmas and my conscience, I snatched the box from the shelf, placed it on the floor and opened the lid. I closed the lid and began talking myself out of making an impulse purchase. I opened the lid and peered in the box again and picked up one of the boots.
A nearby voice said, “Those are nice.” I looked up to see an older blonde woman with short hair styled to stand out sharply from her head. Her cherry-red skinny-jeans disappeared into cheetah-print knee-high boots with spike heels. A fur wrap draped over her shoulders.
I was mesmerized. “Try them on,” she told me. “I want to see what they look like on.”
I complied. She appraised. I walked a small circle and touted the boots’ qualities of comfort, style, color and heel-height. The devil’s work done, she smiled and glided to another row of shoes.
As if he knew the mire of temptation into which I was sinking, my husband called me on my cell phone. He and our sons were finished, done, out. They were headed to the car and would meet me there.
I kicked off the boots and threw them back in the box. Grabbing my daughter, I exited the store in the direction of Old Navy, checking over my shoulder to make sure we’d dodged the devil. I had every intention of meeting my beloved and our boys at the car after swinging through Old Navy and didn’t need a meddlesome old woman wearing impractical shoes slowing me down.
The devil is stealthy. Rounding a corner as he came out of the restroom and made his way toward our auto, my 16-year-old son was stopped. An older woman crossing his path tumbled into the landscaping and lay on the ground amongst the boxwoods. Sprawled out and surrounded by her purchases, she turned over on her back.
My son bent down and asked, “Are you okay?”
“Oh, Honey, I’m fine. I’m fine,” she said. Waving her arms, she scooped her scattered parcels closer to her. “It’s been a long day. I’m just tired.”
Because she made no move to right herself, my son extended a hand toward her and asked, “Do you need help up?”
She declined. “I’m going to stay here a few minutes and rest.” She clutched her bags and closed her eyes, prompting the boy to insist on rendering aid.
Her eyes opened. She said, “Can you walk down there and look around the corner and tell me if you see a diamond store?”
He complied. She waited in the bushes.
Later, I asked him if she was wearing sensible shoes or if she had on cheetah-print boots with spike heels. “Mama!” he exclaimed. “The lady was lying in the dirt! I didn’t look at her shoes.”
Doesn’t matter. I know it was the devil trying to get the best of us on Black Friday.