Every single Saturday night was the same for me growing up in the ’70s and ’80. Around 6:00 p.m., I would change into my favorite cotton nightgown. I would get into my parent’s bed, with their gold satin sheets and watch them get ready to go out for a night of disco dancing with their friends. As they gussied themselves up in their disco-finery, I would begin the evening by watching “Soul Train.” For those of you from the West Coast, “Soul Train” is a show I’m sure would not be aired today because it was basically about black people boogying down some sort of an aisle to black music (also called, “The Black American Bandstand.”) Now that I think about it, it may only have aired in Detroit.
Next would come Dance Fever with Denny Tertio, a similar dance contest show but this time with white folks trying to dance like black people. My parents would usually leave to go out mid-Fever, and either a babysitter would arrive, or, as I got older, it would just be my sister and I to carry on the night alone. I would grab some sort of healthy snack, like carob raisins or Shacklee bars, and go back into my parents silky bedsheets. I would then watch an episode of the always wacky show, “The Love Boat.” Then, if I felt like freaking myself out, I would stay up really late (9 to 10 p.m.) and watch “Fantasy Island.” I would eventually fall asleep in my parents’ bed, and one of them would carry me to my own bed once they got home. Sometimes, I would wake up and find my parents and their friends still hanging out at my house until the wee hours of the night.
Flash forward to this decade. My own kids have no similar Saturday night ritual, and probably never will have one. In this decade, parents just don’t get the weekly Saturday night out. They are too busy driving their kids to activities that start in the early morning and last literally into the dark of the night. Baseball, soccer, basketball tournaments last all weekend long, when they are held locally. Otherwise, one parent is in some other state with a child on their monthly “out of state” competitions, while the other parent is at home, driving their other children around town.
Weekend meets for gymnastics, dance, cheerleading all include driving to cities at least 45 minutes away that begin at either 6 a.m. or at 6 p.m. Either way, parents are either too exhausted or not physically able to go out to dinner or to a movie, let alone dancing with buddies or hanging out partying until the wee hours of the night. When there are no tournaments, recitals, performances, rehearsals or games, parents are taking their children to 4-5 birthday parties per weekend. (Or bar/bat mitzvahs for the pre-teen crowd.)
We have simply lost the weekend. It has been handed over to our children and we are never going to get it back. Not in today’s society.
The television shows of today will never match our Saturday night line-ups. First of all, Saturday night is not primetime for new episodes of hot shows to air. In fact, shows aimed at kids are aired during the day, and re-runs play all day long, every single day of the week. Shows on Saturday nights are from being stories about a family taking a hilarious cruise full of mishaps. They are usually shows with initials that mean scary killings are being investigated (SVU, CSI, etc.) or reality shows about families exploiting their children for fame or people who call 911 for wacky reasons. The plot lines on “Love Boat” would just not exist on mainstream television today. (I mean, no one hooked up with Julie “Your Cruise Director?” No one challenged the fact that Vicki Stubing, a 12 year old girl, worked full time on that boat? Where was her schooling? Why didn’t Isaac get fired? He seemed to be a sloppy drunk most of the time he was serving those drinks. And what was it about Dr. Adam Bricker that made all the ladies swoon? Was it the large rimmed classes and short white, crisp linen shorts?)
Then there’s “Fantasy Island”: did you ever try to explain that show to one of your kids? Go ahead, try. I will help you: “So, there was a mysterious Spanish man who lived on an island and always wore a white suit. There were tons of hot ladies that lived there too, as well as a “little person” named Tattoo. Each week, some family ended up on the Island and something really scary and disturbing happened to them. Tattoo would get so excited to see the guests arrive on their seaplane, he would shimmy up a flagpole and bang a large bell and scream out, “Da Plane! Da Plane!” I have no idea what travel agent would arrange such a trip, but Mr. Roarke’s Island was always booked solid with bad people needing to be taught a lesson.
And so, I bemoan the lack of my Saturday night disco boogie evenings of my youth. My children should have been able to have the same experience. I loved it. I loved looking forward to my t.v. viewing routine all week, and to knowing that my parents had one night that they knew they were going to have fun. It is actually nice to see your parents get dressed up and go out. Especially when that means you get the house to yourself.
Saturday nights: gone to the world of competitive sports and parties. Now, I always look forward to Sunday night, which used to be the most bummer night of them all as a kid. But I love Sunday nights, because I know the insanity of the weekend is going to end. (TGIF? Um, I don’t think so. It’s TGIM. Give me Monday over Saturday anytime. Less driving)
And so, here’s to the days of the innocent racist dance contest shows and sexually uncomfortable story lines on Love Boat, followed by the mystery of the possible evil brothel being run in the middle of the Ocean by Richardo Montelban and Tattoo.
Goodbye to carob. You were really just chocolate made of even worse chemicals. Goodbye to Shaklee and the Shaklee lady in my neighborhood. I hope you and the Herbalife lady are doing well.
And finally, a special goodbye to satin sheets. “T-shirt” sheets just aren’t the same.