In contemporary American society, many citizens endure a dualistic existence in which the work week stretches forth like some dreary dust bowl landscape. Punctuating these dismal five-day journeys is the weekend, that carnival luridly lit on the horizon, its distant Ferris wheel and roller coaster barely in view.
You trudge through the sands of the days, Monday, Tuesday – Humpday – Thursday, the carnival getting closer, the music audible, Pink singing over a calliope:
Just when it can’t get worse, I’ve had a shit day (NO!)
Have you had a shit day? (NO!), we’ve had a shit day (NO!)
I think that life’s too short for this, I want back my ignorance and bliss
Like the work week itself, the weekend possesses its own life cycle, beginning with the boundless hope of Friday afternoon, the happy hour gathering, dinner and a movie, snuggling with your baby sipping something intoxicating on the sofa as Lester Young blows his tenor Saxophone through those Bose speakers you shouldn’t have indulged in but did.
Saturday is just slightly less hopeful – unless, of course, if you’ve slept deep into the afternoon and awaken to the desolation of strewn clothes, unbrushed teeth, and a WC Fields-grade hangover. In that scenario the weakening October afternoon sunlight is as tragic as Van Gogh reaching for the razor.
On the other hand, if you’re older, chances are you wake up feeling fairly upbeat, peruse the paper (digital or otherwise) leisurely on the porch, deck, or patio. Yard work, a fishing excursion, a novel, quilting, football, cooking, model airplanes – it’s up to you because you live in the land of the free and don’t need to set that alarm tonight.
And, as the pop songs say, Saturday nights are made for dancing or getting behind the wheel of your Oldsmobile as you barrel down the Boulevard with Tom Waits cranking on the stereo:
Then you comb your hair
Shave your face
Tryin’ to wipe out ev’ry trace
All the other days
In the week you know that this’ll be the Saturday
You’re reachin’ your peak
Oh, but the night is going, going, after midnight – that means Sunday, Sunday with its tolling church bells and lengthening shadows. The weekend balloon is leaking helium, wrinkling around the edges. [cue Nato King Cole]: The party’s over . . .
The philosopher, Robert Grudin, has thought long and hard about our perception of time. He offers this bit of wisdom:
The years forget our errors and forgive our sins, but they punish our inaction with living death.
Here’s that self-righteous celibate Thoreau:
Little is to be expected of that day, if it can be called a day, to which we are not awakened by our Genius, but by the mechanical nudgings of some servitor, are not awakened by our own newly acquired force and aspirations from within, accompanied by the undulations of celestial music, instead of factory bells, and a fragrance filling the air–to a higher life than we fell asleep from; and thus the darkness bear its fruit, and prove itself to be good, no less than the light. That man who does not believe that each day contains an earlier, more sacred, and auroral hour than he has yet profaned, has despaired of life, and is pursuing a descending and darkening way.