Lee Pitts: Forecast For The Weekend
Monday through Friday if you were to ask me what day of the week it is there’s a 50 percent chance I’d guess wrong. My biological clock simply doesn’t do weekdays. One day is as good, or bad, as another. Even though I haven’t been back to school in 45 years I’ve always associated weekdays with school and homework. Nothing fun ever happened in the middle of the week so, like most people in America, I live for the weekends.
I’ve always associated Saturday with good food. For 40 years if it was Saturday I was chowing down on barbecue at a cattle, horse or charity auction somewhere in America. My fondness for Saturdays goes all the way back to my elementary school days when Friday was beans and cornbread, or fish day, in the school cafeteria because the Catholic kids couldn’t eat meat. As all us Methodist kids dined on brick-hard cornbread, slimy beans, and cartilage-filled composite fish that tasted worse than the garden snail my brother dared me into eating, we almost started a religious war, such was our hatred for Catholic cuisine.
As a result of being undernourished on Famine Fridays, I was always hungry when Saturday rolled around. It was also my best shot at getting a bowl full of the delicious homemade ice cream Uncle Charles made.
Because I always worked weekends, to deaden the pain of not being in my scintillating company, my wife worked for 30 years as a checker in a grocery store. You’d be surprised how good a pain-deadener time-and-a half-pay on Sundays can be. But for me, Sunday was never really profitable because it’s the day I wrote my column and the day I rode the ranch looking for problems. My forecast for the weekend was always a 90% chance of hard work with a 10% chance of getting paid for it.
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Sunday. I hated Sundays as a child because every year my older brother and I had to be acolytes in the Methodist Church my great grandfather helped build. This meant as a ten year old I had to wear a long, flowing white gown like the kind they give you in the hospital, only my bare butt didn’t show. (At least I hope it didn’t!) We had to slowly walk in unison down a mile long runway, carrying yard-long torches with wicks to light the two most hated candles in all the world. I always had a problem. Either the wick went out before I got to the candles, or the candles refused to light when I got there. On Monday morning the talk of the town would be how little Pittsie boy couldn’t get his candle lit so his big brother had to bail him out. Again.
If that wasn’t bad enough my brother and I had to sit for an entire hour with the choir in front of the church so I couldn’t talk, chew gum or scratch for an entire hour as the preacher delivered his usual boring and waaaay too-long sermon. I particularly remember one he gave about raising money for kids in Africa because, “There were millions of square miles where the people had no church.” Then before passing the plate he’d say, “Just ask yourself why are we raising this money?”
“To move to Africa,” I whispered to my brother.
Then at the end of the service we had to make the same walk to extinguish the candles. Or at least try to. You know those gag candles you can put atop a birthday cake that go out and then miraculously start burning agin? I swear, those two Methodist candles were the prototype. This meant on Saturday nights I tossed and turned and had frightening nightmares of tripping on my long gown the next day as I led the congregation out of the church.
I still carry emotional scars to this day.
When I was about twelve the married preacher and the married choir director skipped town together in the biggest scandal to ever hit town. (Really!) As a result my family quit going to church, which ended my acolyte duties. There’s not been a Sunday since that I don’t think about that preacher, thank him from the bottom of my heart, and wish him well.