When I was a little kid in the Midwest, I always hated Sunday. There were several reasons behind this domingophobia.
Saturday was the ultimate kid’s day. First it was very entertaining Having all three channels showing house of back to back cartoon shows was, well, almost more than one could bear! I never did get how my parents could prefer sleeping in and missing all that video goodness. As we all know, adults are weird.
Perhaps we would go out shopping and mom would let me whine my way into getting a new toy. On especially golden Saturdays, there would be a stop at McDonald’s. After we got home I could go out and play with my friends until it got dark.
Since dad didn’t work weekends and mom somehow thought Saturday was her day off too, it was usually topped off with a fun meal like tacos or spaghetti instead of that nasty meat and vegetable crap I had to eat during the week.
Then it was a relaxing evening of watching the movies they showed on Saturday night. Dad interacted with us instead of falling asleep in his chair. Mom did not bitch at me about taking baths, brushing teeth and getting ready for bed. I got to stay up as late as I wanted. Sometimes even later than the adults- the ultimate kid victory over the Oppressor.
The unbridled fun of Saturday was a big set up for the disappointment that was Sunday.
In the buckle of the Bible Belt, Sunday morning belonged to the Christians.
Once in a while, mom would get a bug up her ass and send us to church. What a horror that was. First I had to dress up like a monkey. Please god don’t let anyone I know see me. This humiliation came with dire threats of spankings should I so much as get a speck of dirt on my clothes. Whoa, that made me comfortable.
In Sunday School I sat in a room with kids I didn’t know listening to an old lady tell boring stories about slingshots and guys getting eaten by whales. The on to “big church” where I had to sit on a rock hard bench listening to some old guy droning on while be absolutely forbidden to talk or even move. It was worse than school.
Most Sunday mornings dad was too tired and mom to apostate to bother with church. Those Sundays were better but not by much. They presented the same painful issue of boredom. Of course video entertainment was sadly lacking. All three channels were filled with dismal choirs singing dirges and angry men threatening to send me to hell if I did not toe their moral line- and send a $50 donation.
My friends were either in church or being held hostage by still-sleeping parents. So, there was no one to play with. That made for several hours of aimlessly walking around while kicking things along my path.
We had these things called “Blue Laws” which basically stated that God did not want people selling things on Sunday. I assume he wanted the money in a collection plate rather than a cash register. So there was no shopping and, thus, no opportunities for ancillary fun things like McDonald’s. That left one activity for Sunday afternoon.
I don’t get all these stories and songs filled with wistful memories of visiting Grandma. It was hell.
Grandma was old. She lived in a old person’s house. There were no toys or games or fun things to do. In fact, I was forbidden to touch most things there. There was an implied death sentence should I break them. Grandma herself was a nice enough lady but all those hugs and kisses on the cheek skeeved me out.
My Grandpa was one of those obnoxious “pull my finger” type of guys. He delighted in tickling, poking, Dutch Rubbing and otherwise torturing his grandchildren as a means of showing affection. One always had one’s Grandpa radar activated and avoided him at all costs.
Of course there was always a buffet of whacky relatives there. There was the Great Uncle who talked so loud the windows rattled and his wife the overbearing yenta. Drunks, degenerates, gamblers, whores and an assortment of other socially outcast kin who’s faults and foibles were freely discussed. These discussions were what I was forced to endure while we sat at the kids’ table enduring the huge feast that never included anything I wanted to eat. Nothing like listening to a graphic discussion of Aunt Mary’s lesions while trying to choke down roast and carrots.
Speaking of kids, of course grandma had none. She lived in an old person ghetto as there were no children to be seen in her neighborhood. Of course, they may have been in family prison the same as I was.
After dinner the men retired to the living room to drink beer and yell at the football or baseball games on TV while the women retreated to the kitchen for clean up and catty gossip. This left us kids’ to our own devices.
No toys, TV or neighborhood kids left my cousins and I with only one form of entertainment- getting in trouble. If you have a group of kids forced together by blood ties and steeped in boredom, what else can you expect? Some of the worst punishments I got were the results of following my mother’s Sunday orders of “go play with your cousins.”
Punishments for things like the time they had to call the Fire Department because we decided to play “camping”- inside the garage. Or being forced to walk the five mile round trip to Grandma’s to return the stolen magnifying glass she needed in order to read. I took it as part of “truth or dare.” We shan’t mention the time I was caught with a female cousin who graciously wanted to educate me as to how boys and girls were different.
Even if the afternoon ended without my being in total disgrace, it was still a horrid occasion. Then came the ride home with the post-visit gossip wrap up. Once home there was a couple of hours of family (read: boring) TV. The entire evening was covered in the depressing pall of what I now recognize as the “Half Time Blues” (the realization that tomorrow is Monday). Then came Sgt. Mom’s school night marching orders, bed and the end of another weekend.
Society has made great strides since those days. Today there are entire channels devoted to cartoons 24 X 7. Recreation and rampant consumerism are one and the same so entire weekends are devoted to them. Because most mothers work outside of the home, kids eat McDonald’s and other fast food several times a week. You can get anything in microwavable form so, when you do eat at home each person can have what they want when they want. No more of that family dinner crap.
Church has been relegated to fanatics and religious people rather than being a social requirement. Who needs other kids around when you can play Gears of War XX with your best friend in Outer Mongolia? With said games, the Internet and 783 channels of cable TV, families living in the same house don’t have to interact, let alone meet as an extended family. Gossip can now be IM’d, emailed and tweeted. Grandparents are more active and don’t have time to deal with the sniveling brats they booted out the door years ago, let alone their get. Thanks to this there are no more obnoxious grandfathers or whacky relatives to contend with. And the most trouble a kid can get into is surfing porn or looking at a naked girl on her web cam- assuming the parents even bother to check.
It would be so much cooler to be a kid today. Especially on Sunday.