Today is Black Friday: the day where no one pays retail. Who came up with that name, Hellen Keller? So what’s Jewish Friday, then: a day of fried chicken and hoops?
I’ve been very sensitive to names with the word “Black” in them ever since a high school professor made a kid stand outside our classroom for using the word “Blackball.” He was actually a very fair, devoted jazz teacher who was just trying to prove a point, though he got reprimanded by our uptight Parents Association for the rampage he unleashed on the kid:
“BLACKmail? BLACKball? You will NEVER hear me use those goddamn words. Howdja like it if I went round talkin’ bout I’mma Jew ya parents down when I go to buy a diamond ring?”
Listen, it was 1992, whaddya want? But still, it made a lasting impression on me—we should at least be aware of these fundamental metaphorical concepts upon which our society is structured.
I mean they’re SUBTLE, but they’re there.
To get to the bottom of this Black Friday business, I decided to call my uncle Morty who’s 83 years old and on a respirator. He owned a store on Flatbush in the 50s, so I figured he might be able to give me some insight into the most famous retail day in existence.
Also, it is very fucking hard to get phone time with this guy because he’s up for about three hours a day and is dying of emphysema. That’s why this post is late.
Before you call me a shitty nephew for fucking with the guy, you should realize that a) he lives to talk about the old days and b) he’s a bitter Jewish racist and doesn’t deserve a peaceful death.
(Then I hear my aunt shout-whisper to him in the background: “THAT’S YOUR NEPHEW BENJY.”)
He takes a second…
“[then breathing into the phone] Hey, Benjy Leto Valdez, the west-side wetback! [COUGH hack.... wheeze].”
“Ha ha, how you feelin’, Uncle Morty?”
[we small-talk about bullshit for 45 seconds and he probably can't even hear me and doesn't care.]
“Hey, Uncle Morty, tell me about Black Friday!”
“Oh… it’s shitty [pause...breathe...mumble...] they’ll never make it back.” (then I hear my aunt in the background and he stops and argues with her)
“Uncle Morty, I mean how did BLACK FRIDAY get its name?”
“How did it?”
“Yeah, how did Black Friday get its name?”
No answer, so I lead the witness: “Uncle Morty, is it from the schvartzes? Black Friday?”
“Schvartzes?” he asks, bewildered.
“Yeah, Black Friday.”
“No, not the schvartzes. Black Friday is uh. IN THE BLACK. You sell so much the day after the thanksgiving, you’re in the black. ”
“Not in the red, in the black. Afta Thanksgiving, you’re in the BLACK. After Thanksgiving.”
Son of a bitch, I literally never thought of that. You can pretend YOU knew—but the fact is you’re lying. So Black Friday is named after the ONLY good thing America named after “Black”: IN THE BLACK.
Turns out I’m racist.
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