Among the Savages

Dearest Rachel –

I am of the understanding that, in that last hour before wakefulness, our mind puts us through R.E.M. sleep for the purpose of getting us ready for the day. On rare occasions, the dreams it generates appear to be so much like our normal life that we find ways to deal with problems we have been struggling with in our wakeful existence. More often than not, they can be incomprehensible phantasmagoria, a nonsensical sequence of colors and lights induced by the pressure against our eyelids as our eyes rub against them in our sleep. And yet other nights are simply a deep skin-dive through the blackness of the ocean that is our subconscious, with barely the slightest light of a distant imagined anglerfish to distinguish itself from the inky dark, before we’re force to swim to the surface for air.

After earlier deciding to go back to sleep rather than getting out and going shopping, I found myself gasping for air (but not catapulting myself forward to a sitting position like you see in so many filmed dream sequences – that’s actually surprisingly unrealistic) as I broke through the darkness of my dreamlessness. Reading the clock as indicating half past six (and knowing that it’s always been set fifteen minutes fast), I determined this was a sign that I might as well get out there and do some Black Friday shopping after all.

Of course, just because I was going out to be among the savages didn’t mean that I had to participate fully in their barbarity. I made a point of taking a fairly luxurious shower beforehand, all the while wishing you could join me in this endeavor.

I mean the shopping trip, not so much the shower. Then again…

Be that as it may, I was resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t make it to line up outside the secondhand bookstore prior to the doors being opened. Thus, I would probably miss out on the additional gift card, and only be able to collect yet another cloth shopping bag from them. It occurred to me that Jan would probably disapprove; after all, I had just gotten rid of all that stuff, barely a year ago, and here I am about to add to that clutter all over again?

That being said, I do wonder if there are those of us who don’t know really what to make of Christmas, and the season, anymore. Naturally, there is the fact of Jesus’ birth (which has been more than confirmed within the past couple of weeks – even those who don’t consider Him as Messiah admit he was here), and the gift He gave to us. That is something that no one can take away from us, and no one would wish away, necessarily. But the unrelenting commercialism, combined with the accumulation of just… stuff… well, that’s another story.

And yet, this is what the savages worship. “He who dies with the most toys, wins” is one of their proverbs of holy writ. And yet, he who dies with the most toys… still dies. Make of that what you will.


Upon arriving at the bookstore, I was astonished to be confronted with an empty parking lot. Not just the absence of a line outside (although there was none), but the complete absence of people entirely. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for any particular acquisition, I couldn’t help but be dismayed – the one we used to go to in Palatine had long since disappeared; was this one in Schaumburg now closed as well?

Well, yes and no. Upon parking and heading toward the door, I discovered that it was no longer participating in the Black Friday festivities that we used to indulge in with it. It would be open later on today, at its normal business hours, conducting normal business. None of this crash to get in that you’d expect with a morning like this.

Well. That took the edge off my plans.


Not that I wasn’t at one already, but that left me a bit more of a loose thread. What do I do now? Where do I go? Since it was on my way, I decided I should stop at the great temple of the savages’ religion, and see the worshippers who pass in and out on this, the highest holy day of their calendar.

That’s right; I decided to pay a visit (and, I suppose, my respects) to the mall.

This, of course, was the Great Mall, the one which, at one time nearly fifty years back, was considered the largest in the world. These days, despite adding a whole additional wing since, it’s been dwarfed by gargantuan models, both in this country and outside of it, and just as well; I’ve heard tell that the cult it serves has begun to diminish in power. Why waste good real estate over a dying religion. Still, I figured it would be worth seeing for myself if the rumors were true.

The anchor by which I entered seemed astonishingly devoid of devotees. None of the crush of shoppers, and those that I encountered, were moving slowly, with shuffling gait, more like the zombies from Dawn of the Dead than any rampaging horde of invaders. There were none of the happy smiles of those eager to be here; so much more of those here seemed to be out of obligation, rather than any real enthusiasm. Of course, dressed as I am in what approximated native garb, and without a smile of my own, I could blend in well – almost too well.

Then, again, it may well be that just about every religion eventually suffers from predominance of nominality. The age of the ‘material girl’ is over (or not – I certainly saw my share of bare-midriffed female specimens of Generation Zed wandering about, or maybe it’s just that I’m noticing now. Either way, I can’t even pretend to be in the market for such); even keeping up with appearances, or the Joneses, is hardly worthwhile anymore. Now, it seems that it’s being done merely out of habit, rather than any true desire.

I don’t know whether that’s a hopeful thing – that these savages are likely to see the true light – or just one more bit of hopelessness to add to everything else. After all, it would seem that their chief deity, a Great Old One known, for reasons unclear, as ‘Brandon,’ has been particularly cruel this year to his devoted faithful, despite their having done so much in terms of obeisance to him earlier this month. Well, sometimes the gods we set up can be like that; fickle and uncaring, just like the world they think they rule. Serves them right. The gods, I mean, not the poor (in every sense of the word) worshipers.


When you aim at nothing, you should be neither surprised, nor disappointed, when you hit it. Even their gustatory offerings held no appeal to me – and I hadn’t even had breakfast yet. My obsequies at the monument to materialism in vain, it was time to return home. Now the only labor ordained for me to accomplish was to find my chariot.

However, as the angry walrus is fond of saying, “when in doubt, C-4.” You know who I’m talking about.

I did manage to stop for some breakfast for Daniel elsewhere, and pick up a gift card in yet another location for my shopping list, so it wasn’t a total loss. Still, apart from a social wandering (which was a fairly common sight within the temple walls – it seems ‘seeing and being seen’ is also something shared among Western religions), I’m not likely to bother with those alleged halls of commerce for any of the rest of my Christmas list. It’s back to the digital frontier for me.

In which case, keep an eye on me honey, and wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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