Life As We Blow It: Why camping out in front of Best Buy is the quintessential American Thanksgiving

You'll notice that a $50 discount on an LED HDTV didn't make the cut. And I know, they're not really spending every day and night in line; their friends and family members take turns manning the tents. Plus, you know, they're making it a family thing, getting all the loved ones in the act, because that's what the holidays are really all about — spending time with your children and grandchildren by forcing them to remain in close proximity to you and each other in an extended real-life dramedy of awkwardness, resentment and, in this case, public humiliation.


The Davenports are doing what every American family does during Thanksgiving. They're just doing it in front of a Best Buy, and the world. For, like, iPads.


Try to think of something more American. Go on, try.


With or without the Davenports, Thanksgiving is pretty much the quintessential American experience. We made up a holiday to commemorate a good thing that never really happened in order to gloss over some very bad things that really did happen, AND to kick off a six-week orgy of consumption — consumption of food, consumption of booze, consumption of media and goods and services. Thanksgiving is the ultimate history-revision tool, the ultimate rationalization for excessive indulgence on every level, the ultimate expression of entitlement to all these things of ours, our land, our freedom, our football and our waistlines and our Xbox 360s, no matter what reality may have to say about our being able to cover their costs.


But that's not what makes it quintessentially American. What makes it quintessentially American is that it works. In its big, loud, conspicuous, unapologetically overzealous way, it works, and fuck you if you don't like it.


It even works on a crusty bastard like me. It makes me want to bum a ride to the airport and get my taint chafed by a "security official" with all the experience of a junior-high crossing guard and get on a plane and hug my parents and deal with semi-relatives I may have met once before in my lifetime and eat way too much and get drunk and look at the sales online. It makes me want to do all of that, as much as I can, until New Year's Day comes around and the realities of credit card bills and not enough time spent hustling work and clothes that won't fit me right again for two months reassert themselves as the principal defining elements of my existence.


And whether the Davenports are a harbinger of even more commercialized Thanksgivings to come or an ominous sign that our conspicuous consumption is about to tip over into worthless currency and nationwide destitution, it'll still work on me, on all of us. In five years, we may all be either walking around big-box retailers on Thanksgiving Day itself with gravy vats strapped to our bellies, a turkey leg in one and a credit card in the other. Or we may be lined up at a trash-barrel fire waiting for our one allotted bite of charred rat foot dipped in expired barbecue sauce scavenged from the dumpster behind a defunct fast-food joint.


But we'll be there. And thankful for it, I guess.

By the time you read this, members of St. Pete's Davenport family will have been camped out in front of their local Best Buy for more than a week, in order to be the first customers through the door to take advantage of the annual Black Friday Cavalcade Of Savings And Mind-Blowing Special One-Day-Only Deals While Supplies Last.

By the time Black Friday rolls around, the Davenports will have been in line for nearly ten days.

Here are some things for which I might, MIGHT, be tempted to wait in line for nearly ten days:

1. Jesus signing my copy of his autobiography, That's Not What I Meant, and You Know It.

2. A cure for a lethal disease.

3. A free blowjob robot.

4. A genuine Get Out of Hell Free Card.

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