[A trilogy of “seamy” stories about the lure of ugly sweaters; 1 of 3]
The air is full of excitement. Tomorrow is Ugly Sweater Day and everyone is looking forward to it. People are staying longer in the water dispenser talking about their sweaters.
“My sweater has one big boob on one side, covered with a green pom-pom. Beat that!”
“Yah, that’s ugly. But mine has the body of a penguin on the front, right under the neckline.”
Snatches of conversation followed by guffaws can be heard in every corner. Darren sits at his desk, working, but obsessing on how he still doesn’t have an ugly sweater to wear for the big day. He went to Target over the weekend but the prices for ugly sweaters had been hiked. He’s not about to spend $35 for a sweater he wouldn’t wear more than once a year. Then, he remembers the discount department store at an outdoor shopping mall, which is a 15-minute walk from his office park.
When lunchtime approaches, Darren hurriedly heads over to the mall. He is forced to walk because his car is at the garage and not available until tomorrow. As much as he dislikes treading over roads with no sidewalks, he hates it even more if he doesn’t have an ugly sweater to wear the next day.
Having successfully reached the store, Darren goes to the clearance rack. He pumps his fist up in the air when he finds what he considers the ideal. After paying for it, he practically runs outside to get moving. The walk feels long because he has to retrace the terrible route that got him here. He clutches his bag as he tries to avoid being run down.
Suddenly, he’s knocked off his feet and lands on the small strip of dirt, off by the roadside. Did he get hit by a car? He feels as if he’s been punched in the back. What was it? As he raises his head, he sees two feet running off. He realizes that he’s been pushed. He feels around for his bag and sees it’s been stolen. Close to tears, he gets up, dusts himself off, and heads back to the mall. Tomorrow he will wear an ugly sweater, come hell or high water.