all of the selves we Have ever been
When I was growing up,
each day of the week had a certain structure. The Monday through Friday routines were so similar that they blended into what seemed like one long day, especially during the school year. The weekend was different. Saturday and Sunday each had a unique rhythm and mood.
Hands down, Saturday was the best day of the week. It was like a mini-summer vacation in a 24 hour period. Saturday really began late on Friday afternoon as soon as the school doors slammed shut behind us. Done with classes for the week, we could stay up late and maybe even have a few friends over for a pajama party.
Saturday morning was a glimpse of paradise. Everyone was relaxed and happy. No parental supervision was needed. Mom got up early and went for her regular appointment at the beauty shop. Dad grabbed his coffee and cigarettes and headed down to his workshop in the basement. I and my siblings slept in. There was no need for alarm clocks or pleading parents. Once awake, we lounged in our PJs watching cartoons until noon. There was no official Saturday breakfast. We grazed on cereal and Nestles Quick while parked in front of the television set.
We sprang to life on Saturdays when mom pulled into the driveway. Following her appointment with the hairdresser, she did the grocery shopping for the week. That was back in the days of bigger families who cooked and ate every meal at home and packed lunches for school. It was also the time when stores closed early in the evening and stayed closed on Sundays. There might be one car to a family. During the week, that car was with dad at work all day. If you didn’t get what you needed from the store on Saturday, you just had to wait a week or borrow from a neighbor. Too much borrowing could lead to a bad reputation in the ‘hood. As a result, the weekly trip to the store resulted in a tractor-trailer-sized load of groceries crammed into the back of a station wagon. We groaned at the sound of the car horn.
Getting the groceries from the car into the kitchen was more strenuous than a week of basic training. Back then the shopping bags were made of paper and half the size of a third grader. The bags had flat bottoms and no handles. The bags had to be held from underneath which meant we had to carry them into the house ONE. AT. A. TIME.
Thankfully, unpacking the bags was more rewarding than unloading them from the car. Processed, packaged foods were appearing at a rapid pace, all new and exciting. Each of mom’s trips to the grocery store resulted in some new discovery. There were Ruffles potato chips. It was true; they did have ridges! Chips Ahoy made chocolate chip cookies a treat for the everyday instead of just special occasions. If we wanted to be more sophisticated, we tried the Pepperidge Farm cookies. There were also Pop-Tarts, Bugles, Cool Whip, Spaghetti-Os, Doritos, and that new-fangled potato chip, Pringles. The “treats” were intended “for the week,” but we were lucky if we could scrounge up a single crumb by Sunday night.
We eventually got dressed, but it was Saturday clothes, our most comfortable, worn-out, mismatched play clothes. We had chores to do, but the pace was slow and the chores unique. I sniffed a lot of Lemon Pledge, but the antidote was time spent hanging wet clothes out on the line to dry where I could hear the sounds of lawn mowers and enjoy the scent of freshly cut grass.
Saturdays wound down with dinner together as a family followed by dishes and more television or board games and Nancy Drew books. If the weather was pleasant, we played outdoors until it was too dark to see or until the mosquitoes drove us back inside. We all slept well on Saturday nights.
And then it was Sunday. Sunday was pleasant, but it was no Saturday.