Today is Saturday

Published 9:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sometimes Hubby looks at me funny. Okay, a lot of the time Hubby looks at me funny. It may be that I’ve said something that sounds completely wacky to his midwestern ears like, “ink-pen”, or “sweet-milk”, or I may have broken out into a disco dance in Walmart. The other morning though, it was a song that I was singing quietly to myself on the way to work.

I didn’t even realize that I was singing, but when he asked, “It is Tuesday, right?”, I answered with a song from my childhood that brought a smile to my face and caused his eyebrows to raise right up into what would be his hairline if he didn’t shave his head.

“Today is Tuesday, and Tuesday is unique! It enjoys being different, so to speak! There’s not another dayyyy quite like Tuesdayyyyyy in the week!”

He might have just let it go, but naturally I had to sing him the rest of the days of the week, too. It’s easy, just insert each day’s name and tah-dah! So when I was done, he heaved a heavy, long-suffering sigh, and asked me where I’d heard that song.

When Brother and I were little, Mama and Daddy had a Pontiac GTO named “Old Pony”. She was shiny black, and even as a kid I knew she was cool. We did a lot of riding around with Mama during the summers when we were out of school, so that Mama could get her shopping done and because if she was driving, she couldn’t be strangling whichever one of us was coming up with an eeeevil plan to drive her crazy.

Most days, we begged and begged to go swimming. This was before the lake was built. If she’d had a big lake to take us to, she could’ve just sat and pretended not to notice when one of us took off swimming until we just a speck of gingham bikini or double-knit-polyester-suited boy-bottom in the distance, and nobody would’ve been the wiser when she made it home with one kid less. We had to go to “The Pool” though, and we were too little for her to just pull up to the curb and let us out so she would have to spend her entire afternoon making sure we didn’t go to the deep end and drown, and watching us do underwater summersaults and stand on our heads and jump off the sides and float and …

Mama would put up with our begging for about twenty minutes and then she’d put us off for a while with a vague promise that if it didn’t rain we could perhaps go swimming in the afternoon. Her “perhaps” translated into “Get your suits ready and drag a couple of towels out of the linen closet and line up five bottles of Coppertone on the kitchen counter so we have enough to create an oil slick in the water, because we are definitely going swimming unless there’s a typhoon.” as far as we were concerned, so we would hang out in the house, right next to poor Mama, so that when she gave the word, we’d be ready, swim fins on our feet and inflatable innertubes around our middles.

Mama usually decided to go to Roses after a few minutes of, “Is it afternoon yet? It’s not raining! Can we go now? Look, Mama, the sun’s shining!”, so we’d pile into “Old Pony” after a brief scuffle over who got to ride in the front seat and off we’d go. We always had the radio on, tuned to the local station, and we’d sing along merrily, happily distracted from torturing Mama about the pool by a trip to the department store and its amazing toy department, where a kid could play for an hour with all the newest goodies, while her Mama wandered aimlessly around in the air-conditioning and prayed for the school year to start early.

If Mama did everything just right, and we started our trip and ended it without being in the car at the top of the hour, she could probably keep us distracted long enough that it would be time for Daddy to come home and too late to go swimming. That was her goal, and she was good at it too. But if time got away from her, or the store manager called her name over the loud speaker and told her to there were a couple of hooligans in the toy department fighting over whether or not Barbie and GI Joe were getting married, we might be in the car when the music started.

“Today is Friday and Friday is unique!”

Mama’s knuckles would turn white on the steering wheel, and her jaw would clench. Whichever kid was in the front seat would leaaaaan forward, closer to the speaker, and the other kid would hang onto the back of the seat, craning to hear better, because right after the day of the week song came the weather report. Mama had a rule. If there was a twenty percent or higher chance of rain, she won and we didn’t go swimming, but if he just talked about sunny skies, she was stuck and we got to go to the pool.

On those blessed days the announcer said sunny skies would prevail, Mama would pretend to be defeated, and we would run around like little maniacs gathering everything we needed and then spend an hour or two in the cool water of the pool, until our fingers and toes pruned and our eyes were red from the chlorine. We were always worn slap out from playing in the sun and water, and never made a peep about staying up until it was dark on pool days, so I guess maybe it worked out okay for everyone.

By the time we were eight or nine, Mama would let us play at the pool with only the supervision of a lifeguard; the days when she had to chaperon us were really very brief. “Old Pony” was gone by the time I was ten, but my memories of “The Pool” and that cool car and summers with Mama are forever tied to the silly jingle about the unique days of the week.

Pepper Ellis Hagebak is a resident of LaGrange.