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home : columns : columns November 17, 2018

2/21/2018 2:00:00 PM
On with the show
By Jim Williams

When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to wake up on Saturday mornings. Mom and dad were usually still in bed, as was my little sister. But when it was time, I'd quietly get out of bed, head to the kitchen, make my toast and peanut butter, a cold glass of Nestle's Quik, and get ready for another hour of fun and frolic with my pals from Warner Bros. cartoons.

After a hard week at school (and life in general) nothing took the edge off like watching Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, and the rest of the cast of merry misfits - allowing a kid with a pretty miserable home life to laugh and escape.

It was one hour of madcap comedy that made the rest of my week tolerable. An hour where I could escape into the slapstick world of make-believe. Where, much like Kenny from South Park, a character could be fried, shot, or otherwise laughably disfigured, only to return later in the show or next week, back for more.

Here I was, just this 8- or 9-year-old kid, watching cartoons (some made during World War II) whose subject matter could often be very adult, and the humor created somewhere in the minds of mad geniuses. Even at my age I wondered what these guys were on and if they'd be willing to share.

But like everything in life, that hour had to end. The toast and Nestle's Quik were finished; my sister was up, and Mom and Dad were just now getting out of bed. Soon the house would be filled with the aroma of Maxwell House Coffee, bacon and eggs, and yes, toast and peanut butter. Where I got my love for that no doubt came from my dad. He used to slather the toast with butter first, before heaping about a tablespoon of Skippy Creamy on each slice of toast. It was a sight to behold. I passed on the butter part, and as I got older, asked Mom to start getting some Jif Extra Crunchy. My buddy across the street, Eric, had Jif, and once you have Jif, there is no going back. This pissed off Dad of course who demanded I either eat Skippy or that Mom only get a small jar of Jif. Mom got me the small jar.

After breakfast reality had begun to set in and there was usually a lawn to mow, a baseball game to get ready for or, living in Portland, preparing to not do much of anything due to what seemed like constant rain. Often, we'd put on our worst clothes and go play tackle football out on one of the two empty lots in our neighborhood. These were ferocious games that we took very seriously. How we managed to do this all day and have no one injured is amazing.

Ah yes, Saturday. It was a "forget-it-all" kind of day. A day to be a kid and enjoy being alive; not worrying about the homework assignment you knew was waiting for you. The one you weren't going to do until late Sunday evening, if it all; then having to creatively feign an illness to get out of turning in the assignment you hadn't done anyway. I became quite adept at this as the years went on, even to the point of forgery so as I could have a signed note to get back in school.

Then we had Sunday. I'd rather not talk about Sunday, other than to point out that it was part of the weekend and not nearly as fun as Saturday. The thing I remember most about Sunday is we used to have a Sunday dinner. The one day of the week where Mom would make a nice meal, and Dad was actually home to enjoy it with us. I use the term "enjoy" loosely as my mom, God bless her soul, was a lousy cook, (sorry, Mom). If it wasn't spaghetti, it pretty well was horrible. Nothing like tasteless meatloaf, roast, or some other God-awful concoction. I hated veggies, and the smell of cooked cabbage, cauliflower, or everyone's favorite Brussels sprouts, often was enough to make me so sick that I didn't need to fake an excuse to miss school. More often than not, after killing the meat with copious amounts of catsup, Worcestershire, and whatever else I could find, I would get up from the table and make a crunchy peanut butter "sammich." Often I was forced to eat a certain portion of the tasteless slop in front of me before I could salvage my dinner with something decent to eat. We were so poor, a treat was a Chef Boyardee boxed pizza. I was nearly ruined for life.

Sunday is the day you close the chapter on a book, preparing yourself to start a new one the following day, wondering what it is you're going to read, and if you're going to like it.

Today is a Sunday of sorts, but it's not so much about finishing a chapter, as it is finishing the book and going on to the next one. The hard part is deciding what it is you want to read, or do I want to just get through the week and wait for that hour on Saturday morning, where once again you fire up the old tube TV, and eagerly anticipate the opening notes of the Bugs Bunny Overture. And if I could, I would rewind the clock, and take that hour - where one last time I can hit the heights.

And oh what heights I'll hit. On with the show; this is it.

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