Then it was back to normal. Which was boring.
Sunday afternoon television was programming brought to you from the Most Boring Pit of Hell. Of the four channels caught by the roof antenna, only two were commercial channels from the city. One played a long boring movie frequently interrupted by the same four local ads, the other offered sports with the exact same ads. The other two were the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation — one delivered English Canadian content, the other French. The English had Hymn Sing, the French had something involving two or three fellows in bucket chairs talking excitedly over each other.
You could read a book for an hour, maybe two if you were a particularly nerdy kid. But sooner or later the walls closed in, and you had to go outside.
If it was winter, maybe you dragged the toboggan to the hill just west of town. Or maybe you and the neighborhood kids played Fox and Goose in someone’s pristinely snow-blanketed garden. Some kids played road hockey, but in the 70s nobody had money for a net. You used giant blocks of road snow for goal posts, and a sponge puck, which you chased down the street after someone “scored.”
If it was summer, you could ride your bike to a friend’s place and kill time there, reading his comic books for a change. Sporty types might play a little football, or if you had one of those small plastic footballs from the hardware store you could play “Aunty-Aunty-Over” for a few minutes — hucking the little ball over the roof of your house and hoping your friend on the other side wouldn’t catch it, race around the building and claim his due reward — a vicious punch to your shoulder.
Sundays were so freaking boring, church truly was a relief — even Sunday night service. For an hour or two you could quell the dread you felt over your freakishly changing body by contemplating the wondrous transformations taking place amongst the others. And if your youth pastor was hip you put together musicals and puppet shows.
You learned songs you probably still sing to yourself, forty years on.
Flash-forward to 1990. I was in Toronto, the Centre Of The Universe, and the 70s were LONG gone.
And yet Sundays were still boring. The only stores open were mom-and-pop corner stores, everything else was closed. And in theory you had 57 channels, but with the exception of Much Music (how long you stayed tuned depended on how many repetitions of C+C Music Factory you could endure) the content hadn’t really changed. If you were in your 20s the best you could do was ride your bike to a buddy’s to see if he had any beer in his fridge. Plus ça change.
And Bob Rae — the guy I didn’t just vote, but actually campaigned, for — was he seriously hoping to enforce a “common pause day” in Ontario? A day I could better spend pinballing from one record store to the next, when I wasn’t ensconcing myself in the World’s Biggest Bookstore? Ex-squeeze me? Rae’s idea truly was just that self-evidently, spectacularly BAD.
|Give the people what they want, Bob.|
Flash-forward to 2020. A friend owns and operates the local hardware store. It’s been a seven-days-a-week affair since '92. “We closed one day for my mother’s funeral,” he tells me. “It took just over two weeks for the numbers to get back up to the daily norm.” He, too, remembers — rather fondly — when Sundays were boring.
Now I’m doing a little basic math. Most years have 52 Sundays — multiply that by 28 and you get a total of 1,456 24-hour units we collectively fed through the consumption machine. Factor in Leap Years and round up just a tad, and that’s four years we’re talking about.
If that’s how many common pause days are now required of us, I sure hope there is a merciful God — because we’re gonna need help.
|"Come, let us sing..."|