The whole day stretches ahead. There are vague dark clouds of laundry and a dinner thawing in the sink hovering on the proverbial horizon. But that dinner is hours away and I’m sure that everyone has at least one ugly laundry day outfit to get them through the afternoon. Nirvana consists, in this one moment, of a steaming cup of coffee (1 sugar and cream), scissors, a ballpoint pen and…sighhhhh… the Saturday paper.
I love the Saturday paper. It has a weight and a presence. Although it will be censored and bent to whatever political leaning that is particular to the paper owning conglomerate some trickle of truth always finds it way through.
The Saturday paper has the best obituaries and the personal page is full of pictures of people celebrating their 50th wedding anniversaries, college graduations and first birthdays. The pictures I like the most are the old photos that tell a story even without the captions below. The opinion section and the editorial letters are always a topic for discussion and I clip and circle the workings of minds and philosophies that parallel or challenge mine.
I have scrapbooks of photos I’ve clipped from the Saturday paper. These pictures come from all and any pages and depict everything from Mayan Temples to cenotaph ceremonies. Most people don’t realize that you don’t have to look very far to see artists at work. It’s been in the paper that I’ve seen the most compelling and emotional photographs. I collect the ones that touch me the most.
The members of my family recognize and grudgingly accept my love for the Saturday paper. It’s a get out of jail free card and I’m not required to answer the phone, curb the dog or find those elusive nail clippers that seem to run from everyone else but me (popping into view when I open the drawer instead of hiding when whoever had said they looked "really hard").
There is a method to my pleasure. I do divide the Saturday paper into sections and read them from least favourite to the most. The sports, cars and classified are my brussel sprouts…I read them quickly. I don’t enjoy them but one’s "diet" needs to be well rounded. Tragedy is liver and onions…if you love liver and onions my apologies but I detest them. A steady diet of force fed liver and onions suits some as does a steady diet of tragedy but that has never been my taste. In my youth, when it was my turn to cook dinner, my mother knew better than to put liver and onions on the menu if she didn’t want to find herself eating burnt shoe leather…my philosophy being if it was burnt we wouldn’t be forced to eat it. Everything else falls into place. Carrots are the politics and regional events. Steak and shrimp are the last three sections I read, the colour comics (Bizarro is the best), the Editorial Viewpoint pages and finally the Entertainment section.
The Entertainment section carries reviews of galleries, movies, CDs and books. I love the book reviews. I’ve always been a book person and I’ll take a book over a movie any day. I love words (you may not have noticed). I suppose that’s part of the reason I love the Saturday paper. I could read the paper on line but I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. There’s something satisfying in seeing the whole thing laid out there in front of me, the large pages full of print, pictures, events and thoughts. I love the sound of those pages turning. Sometimes I forget that the ink dirties your fingers and later on in the day I’ll see a smudge where I’ve rubbed my nose or brushed my fingers across my cheek (hopefully it’s not after I’ve come in from a quick trip to the store in town).
After all the recipes, photos, opinions and events it is time for dessert, the Saturday Stumper crossword puzzle. As the week advances each day the crossword puzzle increases in difficulty until Saturday when the stumper is posted. I love a really hard one that might take you an hour or two to finish, those are the very best. The Saturday Stumper must be done in ballpoint pen, well at least when I do it. It’s not that I’m arrogant about my crossword skills. I simply like the way the pen feels against the paper as I fill the squares in. It’s not exactly living dangerously but since you do only live once (unless you’re a Buddhist) why not do the crossword puzzle in ink?
I’m always a little sad to see the end of the Saturday paper but not overly so. I know there will be one for me next Saturday barring my death, nuclear war or an unusually quick sell out at the store. The big adventures in life are lovely and nice to have every once in a while but big adventures can be demanding and difficult. It’s the little things, how we choose to spend the time between those dramas and expeditions, which determine the timbre and quality of a life. Next Saturday, if I’m lucky enough, I’ll let go of the wheel and let the household drive itself for an hour or two while I enjoy my get out of jail free card, a cup of coffee and a bit of nirvana with a ballpoint pen and a pair of scissors.