What did you eat on New Year’s Day? Did at least one of your meals include black-eyed peas? If your answer is, “Yes,” it’s likely you’re living in the South, grew up in the South or have been heavily influenced by the region.
For the Southerner, black-eyed peas are a must-eat on January 1. Eaten on New Year’s Day, black-eyed peas are thought to attract good luck, specifically financial good luck, for the one eating them. Sometimes folks add other fare like ham hocks, greens, cabbage and cornbread. Don’t be dazzled by the trimmings intended only to round the peas out into an actual meal. The promise is attached to the peas.
Maybe that’s why the Kroger shopper who pointed out the fresh black-eyed peas staring up from the iced bin a couple of days ago seemed shocked as I walked right on past. Was I thumbing my nose at good fortune?
That raises a question. Does eating black-eyed peas really bring good fortune? I don’t know of any actual studies that prove the efficacy of this common legume. But I planned to eat peas yesterday and here’s what I experienced from the black-eyed pea good fortune distributers.
I arrived at Dillard’s at Park Plaza Mall in midtown Little Rock about 10:30 a.m. I was late and I knew what I faced from last year’s experience when I had to park block’s away across from Catholic High School. January 1 is Dillard’s “Take an additional 50%” sale. What this means (for those of you who aren’t bargain shoppers) is that if you see a sale rack with 25-50% off, another 50% will be removed at the register. Last year my efforts netted a coat, a sweater coat, a vest and a gold silk blouse – all Eileen Fisher which means my savings were astronomical!
Wednesday there were no vacancies by Catholic High School, so I circled the Park Plaza lot until a woman pointed to her car, parked “luckily” right beside where I was stopped in stalled parking lot traffic. It was 11:00 as I headed straight to the home department. If you’ve any chance at succeeding at the “Take an additional 50% off” sale, you have to go prepared. Unlike the woman two ahead of me, I didn’t have a husband and kid to park in line while I came and went adding and subtracting from a stack of potential purchases. If you’re single, you have to scout things out for the New Year’s Day sale. For you guys lucky enough to avoid shopping with your wife and children, think of pre-sale scouting as knowing where the deer are likely to be in the woods they call home. Just as a deer might not come into your sights that specific open season hunting day, things you pre-select are likely to be gone as soon as the doors open.
My scouting pays off Wednesday. The Calphalon toaster I had spotted that was originally $39.99 but marked down to $29.99 is still there! But the line to purchase it is so long a salesclerk has to point out the end. Am I willing to stand in a line that feels as long as the Pacific Coast Highway to save $25? You bet! Time passes quickly thanks to a chatty naturalized citizen from Taiwan and the spotting of a Le Creuset 2 cup stainless steel measuring pan down from $30.00 to $10.50! Chaching!
All good stories have a mid-story heartbreak. I enter the lingerie section to purchase an adorable red plaid flannel Ralph Lauren nightshirt just in time to see a woman carrying the last remaining two in the size that’s too big, but will do! Fortunately, Park Plaza isn’t Dillard’s only location in central Arkansas!
After lunch, I head to McCain Mall where cars and the shoppers that drove them here have already thinned. Not only do I find the nightshirt in my actual size, but I also happen on an adorable ¾ length sleeve designer T-shirt and a new skirt for my bed!
Shopping exhaustion is its own kind of tired. Did I let mere fatigue chance good fortune for 2014? No way I would chance losing parking spaces, major bargains and other unforeseen fortunes in 2014. I headed to The Dixie Café. The Dixie Café supplies black-eyes peas for free with every meal purchased that one special day every year.
Good luck peas for free? What luck!