This is my most-favorite Christmas story. It’s about my torrid affair, one that I didn’t even get to enjoy. Gabe and I are going to tell it together because we always tag-team this tale. His voice is in RED because that’s the color he chose and my replies to his voice are in italics. We thought it would be fun to frustrate anyone who even tries to read this. Because insanity is the gift that keeps on giving.
Gabe and I had been dating for about seven months when Nintendo’s Wii console came out. He was in love with it and wanted one for his very own but, unfortunately, it sold out right after being released and he wasn’t able to get one. Luckily for this story, Nintendo was gracious and shot out another batch a few weeks before Christmas. The stars were aligned: I had the money and the time to get one. Gabe would have a Wii for Christmas and I was going to be the BEST GIRLFRIEND EVER!!! I’d be instantly rocketed into star status AND it would give me gifting options for years to come in the form of games and accessories! It. Was. BRILLIANT!
I want to go on record saying that I had never done something like this before, standing in line to buy something, I mean. Which is why her’s was absolutely the wrong way to do it. The only thing I’ve ever done that was remotely close was getting in line three hours early for a movie so I could get the seats I wanted. I thought it was the same thing. It wasn’t.
I asked two friends who lived near the Target I’d be stalking at 5:00 am. (Love is blind and also hates sleeping in, apparently) if they wanted to stand in line with me. They had also never stood in line to buy crap at Christmas so they said they’d love to. Also, yes, girls who are willing to get up at ungodly hours to hang out in a freezing cold pre-dawn line are obviously awesome.
I was housesitting the morning in question and Gabe had come up to stay the night. That was a bit of a wrinkle so I had to make up some story about how I was going to go meet my girlfriends at a breakfast restaurant really early because one had to go to work at 8:00 and the other would be so busy during the holidays and this was the only time I’d get to see her before the new year blah blah blah. Let me point out I’d had a beast of a girlfriend in the past so this kind of behavior set off my “spider-sense” a tad, though I tried to explain it away. The getting up early and all was a little out of place but nothing to fear right? I loved Girlfriend Erica (now wife) and I trusted her completely! Why worry? That’s what I told myself. Yes, it was a fairly lame lie, but Gabe seemed to believe it so good enough.
I think I got up at 3:00 that morning and got ready because I was so excited. I wound up at The Target around 4:30, half an hour earlier than I’d planned. I had expected to find a few other morons out there (because, really, who stands in the cold winter darkness for a Wii?) only, I pulled into the parking lot and found a line that wound around the building. A sales associate was supposed to hand out later-in-the-day-redeemable tickets at 8:00 am to the first 20 people in line. I’d figured showing up three hours early would put me near the front of that line. Apparently, I was wrong. It was not enough time at all and I was easily past the 30th person mark. I called my girlfriends to let them know Operation Idiotic Idea was off; I was too late. However, being a trooper (stubborn ass), I stayed in line, hoping there were really more Wiis coming or that maybe those first 20 people weren’t all getting tickets.
At 7:30, the ticket giver came out and told us that everyone from THIS PERSON on back could leave because these people were getting the tickets and the rest of us should start scurrying to be the best gift-givers in the world while we still could.
Christmas was a little over three weeks away. I had only bought stocking stuffers and little cutesey gifts for Gabe. All the other big-ticket items he’d wanted were long gone. I had to find a Wii. I had to find it or I’d be a failure of a girlfriend. I saw my little gold Best Girlfriend star burning and turning to ash.
I started the hunt. Turns out, the next Target up the road had already sent away their extra line-standers. Ditto Best Buy and Circuit City (it was still in business at the time). I even tried Wal-Mart. I went to every store I could think of that might possibly have a Wii. I wound up 20 miles from home, searching frantically and finding nothing. On my way back down the interstate, I remembered there was one last Best Buy I could hit. Of course, I got there and found they’d already handed out their tickets so I sat in the parking lot and cried. I’d been so cocky. I’d had so much misplaced confidence in myself and I completely underestimated the power and evilness of parents who have to give their kids specific Christmas gifts. I felt like an ass.
That last Best Buy happens to be at a shopping mall and as I meandered through the mall’s parking lot, blubbering like a three-year-old on a tantrum bender, some amazing, life-preserving part of my brain reminded me that there was an EBX Games inside the mall. The mall wouldn’t be open for another two hours (it was 8:00 am by this time) but for some reason, the main doors were open. It was a Christmas miracle.
I parked the car, ran inside, and hustled to the store. There were three people sitting outside on a bench. There was a sign taped to the storefront saying that they would have 9 Wiis available for immediate purchase when they opened, first come, first served.
I asked the three people on the bench if they were in line for a Wii and they said they were and invited me to join them. The rightness of the moment, it was like coming home, only not at all because I don’t live in a mall and it was creepy being in there early in the morning before the place was even open. I did find out, though, that the mall doors open at 7:00 am so that people can walk around inside to get exercise. How weird is that?
At 9:30, employees started coming in. There were 7 of us in line by that time, all friendly and chatting and insta-friends. We were all on an “I’m going to get that Wii, after all!” high.
The doors opened, we were ushered inside and we proudly purchased those elusive consoles. I called my girls (my friends, I mean. Not my boobs. I don’t even call my boobs “My girls” but I know some women do and I don’t want to confuse anyone) when I got outside, triumphant and glowing with my success. They whooped and hollered and we were like the conquering heroes. I asked one to meet me at work later that day because I wanted to put the Wii in her car so as to keep it hidden from Gabe. He’s a sneak and will suss out any gift in the house the minute it crosses the threshold. She took it a step further and offered to wrap it and everything so that even the wrapping paper would be exotic and not from my stash, making it that much more mysterious. We were so full of our own cleverness and we giggled and shouted over the phone at each other.
It was awesome. I was SO on the road to being the BEST GIRLFRIEND EVER!
End of Part 1