From the 4th grade up to 9th grade my favorite day of the week was Friday. That’s not all together odd, really. I mean, I’m sure there were LOTS of people whose favorite day of the week was Friday. For me it started around 3pm when we’d get all of our graded tests and homework assignments from our teacher. Leafing through and looking for that “Great Job!” written in red ink, or even a sticker next to the handwritten message. A clown sticker? Balloon sticker? Oh boy! A “scratch ‘n sniff” sticker! When you got those you know the teacher thought highly of you. They didn’t waste scratch ‘n sniffs on just anybody(especially that Skaggs kid…jerk.)
It was a Friday process. Gathering of the week’s evidence of a job well done(or not) from the teacher so you could bring it home and impress mom and dad with your knowledge of Indiana History, the multiplication tables, and your unique ability to speak when not spoken to(no scratch ‘n sniff for that.) That ritual meant for the next two days it was sleeping in, watching cartoons, playing with action figures, and whatever else the parents had in store. Friday night, though, that was the best spot of the weekend because you were the furthest point from another week. It was the dead zone where you were still in the past week, but over with all that schoolin’ nonsense. Friday night was like the Switzerland of the weekend. It was neutral territory where you were both winding down and winding up(as an adult that only happens after a Benadryl/coffee chaser.)
Friday night for me was cleaning up my bedroom and making camp on my bunk bed. Only light on in the room was my desk lamp. I had whatever new cassette tape I’d bought playing in my GE boombox, and I was setting up whatever crazy battle I’d thought of for my arsenal of Star Wars or GI Joe action figures(this was up to 6th grade, after that it was sitting in my bedroom attempting to learn AC/DC and CCR songs on my newly acquired acoustic guitar.) Once we bought a VCR, Friday nights were going and getting pizza with my parents and then heading to Video World and renting some movies. In the 7th grade I’d discovered the syndicated radio show ‘Metal Shop’. This was hosted by a guy that sounded like your typical radio DJ, except with a little added grit, like a guy that ate cigarette butts and gargled with Jack Daniels and shards of glass. He’d play all the latest rock and metal and have bands on the show to interview. It was aired every Friday night on 95.3 WAOR out of Niles, MI. If I had my stereo at just the right spot in the living room I could get it in. That spot was usually on the floor next to the coffee table. I’d go from ‘Metal Shop’ to Late Night With David Letterman. This was how I’d end my Friday evenings. Occasionally a Jeno’s frozen pizza was part of that late Friday ritual(unless there was leftover pizza from dinner.)
For me, for a good few years, this was how I wanted Friday night to be. Sure, I’d have friends come over and stay but we never deviated from the Friday ritual. Friends that would come over looked forward to this Hubner Friday party. Pizza, movies, hair metal cassettes overplayed, and an arsenal of Kenner and Hasbro toys to create the perfect imaginary world crisis with. The older I got it was more Friday Night Videos, horror films, and a plethora of music to soundtrack quiet conversations about that cute girl in Industrial Arts and how we should form a band and kill it at the Talent Show. Regardless of the interests and whether we were at a PG level or a PG-13, all of this took place at home. The most important decisions of adolescence took place surrounded by those four walls I called home. Whether we were cracking cue balls in the basement over a game of Nine Ball with “The Four Horsemen” blasting through tinny speakers, or it was just me cultivating a plan to ask some girl to the movies in my dimly lit bedroom, my home was where things were clearer and more evident.
I don’t know why I never had the desire to head out with a friend to the arcade or roller skating rink; or catch a movie and stalk the downtown streets in search of trouble or girls to feel awkward around. Maybe it’s that my parents made home a place you wanted to be. There wasn’t conflict or strife. There wasn’t any nagging about the music I listened to, the movies I watched, or the magazines I brought home from the newsstand. We didn’t argue about my grades or “that attitude, mister!”. I felt safe and comfortable in those four walls. I felt closer to who I really was there, with my parents and brother, than anywhere else. I feel lucky that I had that experience because I know a lot of folks didn’t feel the same about their homes. I suppose that’s why that house in the Pines was the hangout headquarters for most of my adolescence for me and my friends. Blanket forts, late night movie hangs, Lip sync concerts in the basement to Prince and Ratt, billiard games, forest adventures, and lots and lots of shady horror flicks were all part of the home experience in my youth. Friday nights were the opening games to those times. It was the gatekeeper to the weekend.
Things really haven’t changed. Friday is still my favorite day of the week. No papers to bring home to show to mom and dad. Instead I clock out at 2pm and I enter Friday’s dead zone a little sooner. My wife and I have created a Friday experience not unlike my parents did for me, as our kids are pretty content with hanging out in their own little universes contained in their bedrooms. It’s the long wind down to whatever the rest of the weekend brings. Vinyl is spun, beers are enjoyed, and conversations about the week are had.
I’m sure in a couple of years when I have all teenagers in the house it might not be as cozy and relaxed on Friday nights as it is now, so I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. I’ll take those lazy Fridays as they come.
But hey, there’s always Saturday.