Kotter #5 – A Lament for Saturday

The thing that continues to strike me about this card is the incongruity between Horshack’s words and body language.  Saturday is supposed to be the happiest day of his life, yet of all the people in the image, he appears to be having the least amount fun.  He’s managing at best a semi-wry grin amidst the merriment of his friends.

It may be a commentary on the overall quality of Horshack’s life experience that even at his happiest, he’s not really all that happy.  Perhaps he’s just the Eeyore of his group, not prone to overt expressions of joy despite the actual experiencing of it.  To me, I wonder whether the issue isn’t that there’s anything particularly wrong with Horshack but rather if there’s something fundamentally wrong with Saturdays, at least in the way Horshack gets to experience them.

The whole point of the joke, of course, is that Saturday is the day of no school – the day when there are no cares, no problems, the day that things are different.  Yet Horshack is spending his Saturday surrounded by the same people he is surrounded by on a daily basis, hanging out at the home of his teacher, of all places.  The potential of difference in a Saturday is limited by his maintenance of the same basic patterns he follows all week.   This isn’t all bad – there are worse things you can do than spend free time with people that make you the happiest – but ultimately his comment comes off as somewhat ironic.  He’s happiest doing the things he always does and with the people with whom he always does them.   Saturday is barely relevant in this context.  It’s really just a day like any other.  There’s nothing special about it.  The promise of Saturday – the things that make it different and special – is never really fulfilled.

To someone who grew up in Canada any time in the past 80-odd years, the significance of Saturday for most of the year was not so much the day but the night.  It was Saturday night that brought Hockey Night in Canada.  It has been a television staple since the early 1950s and was the same on the radio for a good 20 years prior to that.  For a lot of years, this was the chance to actually see your team on TV.  During playoff time, it was the only game in town.  The opening theme got the blood going.  This was an event not to be missed.

This Saturday offers the possibility of a Stanley Cup victory – the biggest night of the year and the sort of event that HNIC lives for.  What’s striking about it is the extent to which I simply don’t care.  I don’t think I’ve been this disengaged from the playoffs any year that I’ve been a fan.   I think that the root of it is that not only do I not have a particular dog in this race, I haven’t for so many years that the playoffs themselves have lost some of their meaning.  They’ve become something that other teams take part in.

I’m not one of those fans who rants and raves and stomps about demanding a championship.  I’ve never felt that particularly works and I don’t think the game particularly owes me anything for all the time I lavish upon it.  It’s a hobby, a pastime, a step away from the frustrations of the day.  Also, I believe sports is ultimately about the journey rather than the goal.  Given that the reality is that all seasons end in disappointment for almost all of us, there’s really no other way to stay sane.

That said, the way the Leafs went to pieces this year really took its toll on me – but in a weird, numbing sort of way rather than a lather-inducing sort of way.  More than once, I’ve heard people use the word “disengaged” and I think that’s accurate.  It’s a strange feeling and I think I’d much rather care.  Instead I’m just detached and observing at a distance.

In years past, I’ve made the joke that I really appreciated the Leafs being concerned enough about my well-being that they’d clear my schedule on lovely Saturday evenings in May and June.  This way, I’m never conflicted when I want to take the family out somewhere.

If there’s one thing I hope for out of the coming season (other than it actually starting on time and not being messed up by labour wars), it’s that the team finds a way to make Saturdays matter again.  I don’t ask them to win it all, just give me a reason to stay home on a Saturday in May.  Saturdays used to offer such promise.  Fulfill it.

Gabe really telegraphs this joke because even in 1976, nobody called them “moving pictures.”  If Julie walked into this one, she should have known better.

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4 Responses to Kotter #5 – A Lament for Saturday

  1. Sal Barry says:

    “I’m so confused.”

  2. shanediaz82 says:

    Boy can I relate. I don’t know if I’m on a hang-over because Boston won it all last year, but I just can’t seem to get myself that interested in these Finals. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I think I might actually be more interested in the Boston Celtics/Miami Heat game tonight, and I’m not an NBA guy whatsoever. Does this make me a bad hockey fan?

  3. Robert says:

    100% bang on. I believe that Burke should have gone for it this year and tried to make the playoffs. The reason being is that yes, he’s done a lot to build up the core, but some playoff experience this year (even if it was only 4 games), would have been beneficial to this group of young players that they have. I fear that they may have regressed when bringing in Carlyle as coach, because the team was built the last few years on speed and offense, and now bringing in a coach that emphasizes defense and physical play may just have set this team backwards again. We shall see…

  4. theactivestick says:

    I missed this when it was first posted. I’m really sorry I did, though.

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