A group of Biff Bam Pop! friends have an annual tradition: they get together every Boxing Day, grab an early morning coffee at the Starbucks at Yonge and Wellesley in downtown Toronto and then head out on a post-Christmas shopping binge. On their lists: comics, books, CD’s, DVD’s and electronics. It’s an event they all love: friendship and explicit consumerism, all wrapped up into a half-day affair. The build up to this happy occasion can be just as exhilarating as the day itself. Here then, is a multi-part, behind-the-scenes-look into JP’s exuberance over 2009’s Boxing Day extravaganza. Enjoy!
Monday, December 7
Played Peter in Call of Duty on Xbox Live the other night. The game is wildly fun but I’m not that good. Does Peter, a five-star General in the game, enjoy playing with such a novice? My frantic gesticulations in response to onscreen action constantly yank the headset cord out of the controller and I wonder why Peter doesn’t talk to me for twenty minutes during game play. He doesn’t make quips over my gaffes, he doesn’t answer my pleading questions and he doesn’t heed my cries for help. Towards the end, I’m swearing belligerent, profanity-laced proclamations at him for being so cold, so indifferent to my neophyte gamesmanship.
Finally noticing the dangling wire, I gingerly plug the communication device back into its socket. I’m glad he didn’t hear what I was saying.
A wireless headset is now on my Boxing Day list. I file it under Games, right below the scratched-off titles, Dragon Age and Left 4 Dead 2.
When I play online multi-player games in the future, I’ll be sure to hear the twelve year old kids belittle both my gaming abilities and my manhood.
Wednesday, December 9
Charlotte Gainsbourg has a new album out and its getting pretty good reviews. I’m putting it on my Music list. She was great in that Michel Gondry film, the Science of Sleep. Which reminds me: I need to see Antichrist. Not the most Christmastime of movies, I gather. Maybe I’ll wait on that one for the bleak, cold depression that is February when post-Christmas bills come a-calling.
Thursday, December 10
Someone at work mentioned that Boxing Day is just a trumped up, materialistic, corporate propaganda event that has no place during such a special time of year.
I beg to differ.
Only on Boxing Day does the collective world (well, my world) take to the street and, for one beautiful, fleeting day, be of such single-mindedness that all other weighty concerns and worries such as war, globalization, green house gas emission and harmonized sales tax oblivion cease to exist.
Those hand gestures made while you scoop a parking spot? Respect.
That push on your back while stuck in a crowd? Encouragement.
That elbow in your kidney while standing in the cash register line? Adoration.
A scrunched up face with flared nostrils? A deep inhalation and appreciation for the air that is life.
And just like that, I’m adding a new section to my Boxing Day list: Apparel. The first item listed under it will be new Puma shoes. Future Cat style. Two pairs: one for now, one for later.
Saturday, December 12
I woke up this morning and added another section to my list: Art Supplies. I need ink pens with interchangeable nibs of different widths. That means visiting an art store, which, in relation to where I’ll be shopping with my Biff Bam Pop! pals, is a little out of the way. Still, I plan to have my arms full of all sorts of goodies on Saturday, December 26th and a little drive out of the way won’t hurt anyone but the wallet.
Denny calls me up wanting to know if I want to head downtown to the comic shops with him and, perhaps, grab a little lunch. I should be working on the design for the Boxing Day invite. Instead, I say yes.
Within thirty minutes I’m at the Silver Snail staring at the second hardcover collection of Tomb of Dracula. It’s a big book. It’s got Gene Colon art. I love me some Gene Colon art. Although I’m as tempted as a thirty vampire drawn to virginal blood, I don’t purchase it. Instead, I put it on my Comics list. This Boxing Day, Tomb of Dracula will be virgin.
Since I’m practically there, I visit Curry’s, the art store. I buy my pens and scratch them off my list. I’m as opportunistic as they come.
We visit the Beguiling and I put Queen & Country volumes 3 and 4 on my Comics list. I put the brand new Criminal hardcover on it too. I love Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips has been one of my favourite artists since his Hellblazer days.
There are so many interesting items on the shelves here. I mention to Denny that I will one day buy all three of the Starman omnibuses (I don’t put them on my list, instead saving them for next year), I contemplate Swallow Me Whole, Heavy Liquid and a collection of James Jean art books. I have to leave before desire breaks me.
Denny casually jokes how he read the first part of this diary and states that I’m not-so-secretly making a shopping list for my friends and family for items they should buy me for Christmas.
I realize it could look that way but really, that’s not what my list is about. For those reading, let me be clear: what’s on my Boxing Day list is solely for me to purchase on Boxing Day. This list is my mission. Maybe I’ll find all of these items (at greatly reduced prices) and maybe I won’t – but every Perceival needs his holy grail. Or grails, I this case.
That said, I’ve been good this year and deserve great presents from friends and family.
Denny and I grab a slice of pizza for lunch. All I can think about is Boxing Day’s chill morning air, when a group of friends that share similar passions meet up at Starbucks, and I have a hot chocolate in one hand and a Peppered Bacon Breakfast-Sandwich in the other.
And a list as long as my arm.
(Continued next week…)