Letters From The Editor: Black Friday brings buyer's remorse

I've never been one to shop the day-after-Thanksgiving sales.

Parsimonious as I am, I don't like crowds, especially the kind with "door busters" reflecting in their pupils, pepper spray packing their pockets, and credit card debt hiding in the recesses of their minds.

I pride myself on avoiding impetuous purchases. I calmly thumb through Consumers Reports and online reviews for months before shelling out real money.

That changed last week. I caught a case of Black Friday fever.

This is how it happened.

The week of Thanksgiving I started noticing ads and stories about flat-screen TVs, realizing how inexpensive they had become. Then I started dreaming about how nice it would be to have a bigger TV.

There must be something encoded in men's DNA that covets the biggest-possible television. Evolutionary genetics are the only explanation because I watch very little TV, maybe an hour before bed, and don't have cable. But there I was obsessing about pool-table-size televisions.

Thanksgiving at my in-laws clinched it. My father-in-law has a TV the size of Picasso's "Guernica." The men at the party gathered around the thing and remarked on its pixilated beauty.

There seemed to be consensus that now was a good time to buy a super-model slim TV. So I told everyone, rather proudly, that I was going to go Best Buy the next morning to take advantage of the sales.

The next morning, the place reminded me of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, with throngs of shoppers using hand signals and voices to get the attention of the clearly overwhelmed staff.

I had trouble deciding what I wanted. Plasma. LCD. Backlit LCD. Then there's that 1080p vs. the 720p stuff and other math-like ratings.

I looked at them all, but I really couldn't tell the difference. I asked the guy next to me what he was getting and he pointed to something well out of my price range. I picked one below his by the same brand, just in a smaller size.

Getting the attention of a sales representative was harder than getting a bartender's attention at closing time. I waited for almost an hour. Finally, a nice blue-shirted employee with a voice raspy from helping people all day long helped me pick out a big plasma for a not-so-big price.

I paid. I exhaled. And then I tried to lift the box. I couldn't get my arms around it.

Another shopper — the guy I talked to earlier, actually — helped me hoist the thing onto a shopping cart and I rolled it to the door, where an employee greeted me with a dolly and rolled the setup to and into my SUV, which swallowed the TV like that was the reason for its existence.

But fit as it might in my car, the TV didn't really fit on my bookcase, covering half the window behind it and dwarfing the living room. In short, it looked ridiculous, like we had decided to paint one corner of the room shiny black.

Then we turned it on and understood the fuss. My wife and I remarked at the life-like picture, but not long after we got to talking about how we're a lot more bookish than TVish and that we'd probably never use the thing.

"Take it back," she said.

My DNA screamed no, but my heart knew she was right.

So I returned it the day after Black Friday, what I'll call Blue (in the face) Saturday, and cured my buyer's remorse.

JOHN CANALIS is editor of the Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. He can be reached at (714) 966-4607 and john.canalis@latimes.com.

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