My mom thinks that Saturday night is for going out. In her youth, it was date night. Or, if you didn’t have a date, it was a night to go out dancing with your girlfriends and hopefully meet a nice lad who would serve as your date on future Saturday nights.
In my university days, she was puzzled by the fact that my friends and I put no particular stock in Saturday nights. We’d as soon go out on a Thursday night as a Saturday. None of us kept Saturday night free for our boyfriends or girlfriends. Couples might go out together as part of a crowd, or both parties might head off on their own to, well, separate parties. Saturday night might even find us home watching television, or working on an essay. There was nothing special about it.
But tonight I realized that I do have memories of special Saturday nights. The smell of mushrooms and onions frying on the stove brought them back much in the manner of Proust’s Madeleine. These memories are not of teenage nights out but of childhood nights in.
Every Saturday afternoon, my parents, my brother, and I went to the library. We’d each pick our ten books (that was the limit) before heading home. While my dad prepared a special meal for us all, I’d gloat over my fresh stack of books and agonize over which one to start with. Usually the stack would be half rereads and half new books, so it was a difficult choice. Would I opt to spend Saturday night with old friends in familiar places: Avonlea with Anne, or New York City with the Melendys, or Deep Valley with Betsy and Tacy? Or would I strike out for new territory, meet some new characters, go somewhere I’d never been before?
After we’d eaten supper (which, you may have guessed, always included a side dish of sautéed mushrooms and onions), my dad would find some good music on the radio (usually classical or jazz), and each of us would settle into our favourite corner of the living room and take up one of our new library books. And that was us for the night, each off in our own world, but very companionably so.
There’s always something to do in Toronto on a Saturday night: a hot new restaurant or a cool new band to check out, a play to see, or a poetry reading to hear. I like a night on the town, but tonight I’m having none of it. Once I’ve eaten that mushroom and onion concoction that I turned up my nose at as a child, I’m settling into the big armchair with a thick new library book.
Maybe I’ll phone my mom for a chat first though, so long as I’m feeling nostalgic. Of course she and my dad might be out. After all, it is Saturday night.