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Black Friday: Get Ready to Rumble

It's that time again, when good Christians line up before dawn and contemplate the annual question, "What would Jesus buy?"

OK, that's not fair. Debtmas is now celebrated by compulsive shoppers everywhere, one of those holidays that brings all religions, colors and cultures together into one giant Consumers Gone Wild mosh pit.

This year, the thrill of the chase promises to be even more thrilling. In addition to being sleep deprived and suffering from GI disorders brought on by eating too much the day before, Friday's shoppers will be stressing over the fact that they are spending money they don't have, with no hopes of earning more in the near future.

There's also this little nugget to worry about: Those shoppers jostling you are not only poor and pissed about the economy; they're also probably packing heat.

Florida state officials recently reported a surge in concealed weapons applications, an increase they attribute to panic over the poor economy. The state is now receiving 25,000 to 30,000 applications a month – a 25 percent increase compared to last year, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Makes you think twice about elbowing that chick in the electronics aisle for Guitar Hero III, doesn't it?

Here, in honor of Black-and-Blue Friday, I offer these time-worthy tips to get moms everywhere through this weekend's scrum:

1. Carry a bat. It keeps doorbuster line-breakers in check. And it's handy for reaching for Amazing Ally dolls on high shelves. Go for the aluminum variety; it's lighter.

2. This is not family time. Leave hubby and kids at home. They'll only slow you down.

3. Do shop with a friend, preferably one who is struggling with her weight. She'll come in handy as a blocker.

4. Don't share your breakfast with others in line. It will only give them energy to use against you once in the store.

5. Wear layers. It's true that, as Floridians, we don't have to worry about freezing in line or sweating in overheated stores, but bulk helps prevent injuries from sharp elbows and 20-pound handbags.

6. That said, forgo trendy scarves and other loose clothing that can be used by others to grab and slow you down.

7. Leave five-inch heels at home. They may not be sexy, but you'll appreciate those Aerosoles trekking through Super Target and Super Wal-Mart stores big enough to cross state lines.

8. Protect your hands. You'll need them in three days for Cyber Monday, the biggest day of the year for Internet shopping.

9. Don't wallow in buyer's remorse. Remember: The past is the past … unless you're still paying for it.