When I was a kid Saturdays meant going to church and waiting for the sun to set. When I moved into my 20s it was all about eating frozen waffles and trying to figure out why I was no longer going to church. Then I hit my 30s and Saturdays became relaxing days, days when I could catch up on my reading and spend time with my children. Now the sun sets and it doesn’t even register because I’m no longer waiting for it.
I remember sneaking Saturday morning cartoons when I was supposed to be getting ready for church, with my headphones securely plugged into my little black and white TV and my flimsy lock on my bedroom door. Then I got a little older and it turned into shows like Saved By the Bell, and I would try my best not to laugh out loud when Screech would do yet another dumb thing. I wonder what would have happened if my mom had ever caught me sneaking those shows.
Sometimes I would even pretend to be sick in order to stay home during that holiest of days to watch the drivel that came on TV, which was apparently a sin but I was drawn to it, not because it was any good, but because I wasn’t supposed to be watching it in the first place. But when I couldn’t pull off the sick bit effectively I would just have to man up and go to church where there were other kids my age. Saturdays became then trying to figure out how we could still have fun even though we were dressed up and adults were supposed to be watching us every second.
Truth is, though, that Saturdays at church did get to be fun… when certain kids were there. See, there were the ones who knew how to get around the parentals, who could sneak us into classrooms when we weren’t supposed to be there, and who led us outside during the sermon when we got older. I wasn’t a leader back then because I knew if word ever got out to my mother that we were doing what we weren’t supposed to be doing she would beat me with my own belt. I figured (maybe incorrectly) that she would have gone easier on me if I was just one of the mindless drones following along.
Then I grew up and I didn’t have to hide it from anyone. If I didn’t want to go to church, I didn’t go. If I wanted to turn on the TV and watch all day I didn’t have to plug in my headphones and keep the laughter down. In fact, I began copying shows like 90210 and Days of Our Lives during the week so I could play them back on Saturday. It became my day for that, to play catch up, and I enjoyed the nature of the day back then. But there’s only so much time in that in between phase, when you’re an adult but you’re not yet responsible.
Eventually I had to be responsible, and Saturdays took on a different timbre. They became days not just geared to catching up on shows, but days where I had to still work. When I became a teacher Saturdays were for grading, and I would buckle down with a pot of tea and a mound of papers during that previously holiest of days. Instead of listening to a preacher I was instead listening to the internal voices of tons of kids trying to impress me through their words scribbled down on the page. And later on a pot of coffee replaced the pot of tea as I fought harder to maintain my focus.
And now, my job description at Target requires me to work every other weekend, so the Saturdays I have off take on even more of a special significance because I know they’ll only come once every two weeks instead of once every week. It’s true what they say that absence makes the heart fonder, and it works for time off as much as it ever did for absence of people themselves. Now I wait for that alternating Saturday because I know it means waffles (real ones, not frozen ones) more often than not, and it means getting to enjoy my children instead of being out of the house by 5:30 before they even get up. Saturdays are now precious to me because life happens on those days, not the life that I’m forced to do for my family’s security, but the life I want to live, the life that gives back to me.
But man, that Zack Morris sure was funny.