For most of my childhood, Saturdays were spent with my maternal grandmother (aka Grandma C.) My other grandma,Grandma F., lived in the Caribbean, and I only saw her once a year, usually during my summer vacations. I loved Grandma C., but I adored the fact that she had a television. For a while I had a tiny three-inch black and white television/radio that was stuck on one channel, PBS. Eventually, my father discovered a way to change the channels by cutting a small hole into the top of the device and then sticking a narrow object (a single chopstick worked best) down into the hole until it made contact with the wheel that changed the channel internally. For one glorious year I had channel-changing abilities, but then the TV gave out completely, and all I got was static.
So Saturday nights at grandma’s were a delight for me. Grandma C. had a big, beautiful, color television with a remote control (something my tiny black and white lacked). My Saturday night routine was unchanging. I would drag the twin mattress from her guest bedroom, lay it in front of the television, prop my head up on a pillow, and fill my stomach with Grandma’s delicious Rice Krispies treats and Sunkist orange soda as I watched a gluttonous amount of television. When my palate matured, I switched from orange soda to ginger ale, but other than that, my Saturday night routine remained unchanged for years.
Grandma C. and I would watch television together from eight to ten o’clock, shows like Empty Nest, 227, Amen!, Golden Girls, and Nurses kept us laughing, and during the commercial breaks (if I didn’t need a bathroom break) we’d talk. Then I’d stay up late to watch In Living Color and Saturday Night Live. When I could fight sleep no longer, I’d stumble, bleary-eyed, into Grandma’s bed and (especially given all the soda I’d consumed) futilely try to not wet it. Now that is love. My grandmother willfully let a chronic bed-wetter sleep with her every weekend, and she never made me feel bad about it. She simply prepared for the failures of my bladder by putting garbage bags between the sheets and the mattress — and she did a lot of laundry.
There were only two hardships I had to endure in return for the pleasure of Saturday night television with Grandma: the wait for sundown and church. My grandmother is a Seventh Day Adventist, which means she observes the Sabbath from…