Black Friday sure is one grand American tradition! Thursday evening, sometime around my fourth or fifth sock of R.S. Hughes’ Finest Industrial Strength Modeling Glue, I remembered my list of the special holiday presents I had planned to purchase. And so off to the mall I went, merrily stumbling in a half-blind daze with a heart full of holiday spirit and lungs full of polyvinyl acetate and phenol formaldehyde.

At the mall entrance I was surprised to find the familiar revolving glass doors absent. In their place stood instead a man-sized sentient catfish – clearly some snazzy decoration whipped up by those fancy mall administrators. I expected the famous courtesy one might typically expect of any humanoid bottom-feeder, but I was met instead with a stubborn whiskered Leviathan who refused to let me pass on through on the grounds that “the elementary school is closed for the holiday.” I, of course, knew this to be a classic catfish idiom, and that the fish was signaling to me that he desired a bribe. With nothing else to offer, I handed over my penultimate glue-sock. The fish, being modest, refused my gift and ran off screaming for “help.”

Having made my way into the mall – which seemed to have gone through some odd redecorating – I refocused on finding the first gift on my list, a six pack of craft beers for my Uncle Landon. I worked my way down a long hall, doing my best to ignore the U.S. President singing an operatic “Ice Ice Baby” on repeat. After passing some half dozen rooms, we found the mall’s fancy craft brewery which was curiously labeled Arts and Crafts Room. While the store’s staff were nowhere to be found, they at least did have the courtesy to leave out a pyramid of complimentary Elmer’s Glue. I reached for the bottle balancing on top, and that’s about where my memory cuts out. I woke up Friday afternoon in my bed with a backpack full of children’s clay pottery projects and finger paintings. I must have bought them somewhere during my shopping trip.

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