Despite massive crowds, the mood in Chicago's central shopping district Saturday was buoyant. A salesclerk at Macy's in the Loop initiated friendly banter with me about Thanksgiving fun, and elbow-to-elbow throngs on Michigan Avenue chattered brightly in the crisp fall weather. On a street corner I watched a tout in a cumbersome teddy bear costume receive aggressive hug after aggressive hug from boisterous passersby.
Aggressive hugs on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Why not?
In H&M Ereck shopped in the ever-shrinking men's department on the third floor as on the first floor I sat on a bench next to the escalator. There was considerable turnover at the bench, but I noticed that at moments when all the benchwarmers were men, passing women nudged each other comically and said, "Look at the poor guys" -- the gag, of course, being that the exhausted men had to wait as their significant others shopped. Near the bench was a rack of extravagantly awful fake fur coats that prompted many smiles, and some women mockingly tried on the atrocities. But none were bought.