Ahhhh…the ease of a beautiful Saturday! I don’t think there is anything better than a relaxed, carefree, sunny Saturday. As a kid we lived for this day. This day represented freedom, family, friends and Jerry Lewis. Yep, you heard me right….Lewis….Jerry Lewis!
In our household, bribery was often incorporated into the daily workings of our homestead corporation. To give you an example, we could enjoy television at free will, daily, as long as none of us kiddos received a “C” on our report card. As luck would have it, I could typically be counted on to ensure that we never saw the glimmer of the illustrious, illuminated box; therefore, consistently guaranteeing no television for eight more weeks. Not sure if this brilliant notion was swiped from the whole Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog phenomenon, but it sure felt that way. So starting Friday nights we had a pretty packed viewing schedule; but Saturdays, oh glorious Saturdays, now those were the day’s dreams were built on.
Pajamas, popcorn, orange slices and a good Jerry Lewis flick. That’s what Saturdays were made of in our home. I can’t rightly recall if it was Mom or Dad that loved Jerry Lewis. My guess leans towards Dad though. It seems to be a little more in his wheelhouse. Regardless, we all began to love Saturdays with Jerry. It represented laughter and popcorn tossing competitions.
As you know, my life on the child labor market started pretty early on and popcorn vending sure seemed to fit right nicely into that realm. Dad initially was the master of popping, but he more than willingly seemed to pass that torch onto us as soon as feasible. Unlike laundry duty though, no hard feelings were harbored when popcorn vending came into play. We all seemed to love that job. We had a pot that appeared to have fallen off the back of a chuck-wagon traveling along the Trail of Tears that we used to pop corn in. It was a dull metal, dented and charred from excessive use. I really have no idea what might have come out of that pot prior to our popcorn days, but it was surely seasoned well and produced popcorn the likes of which you can’t find today.
The popcorn was delicious, but it was Mama’s fine palate that decided to marry the taste of buttery popped corn with juicy orange slices and that, my friends, is beyond compare. There was nothing fancy to it, oil popped corn with melted butter and perfectly cut orange slices used as chasers for each buttery bite of puffed corn. I don’t know why, but those two scents and tastes, ’til this day, cause my mouth to water, eyes to sparkle, and a certain feel of home to enter my heart.
Now back to Jerry Lewis. If you’ve never experienced an afternoon of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis films, you must. At first, you might question why you are even watching them. They can be a bit over the top at times….okay…most of the time. But as time progresses, you start to realize this is truly depicting what life is all about. We live daily adventures, accepting life’s ups and downs as they come, developing the ability to laugh at ourselves and bring a smile to the face of others all along the way. It’s about lasting relationships that provide support and love, whatever form they come in. Jerry Lewis may play this type of loving, loyal character in his movies…but he very much encompasses this belief in his own life as well. We saw ourselves in his fictional character and wanted to emulate his overwhelming compassion in real life.
I can’t help but compare his bright personality and abundant empathy with Mama. Maybe that’s why his films resonate so profoundly with me even today. Long after our popcorn and orange slice Saturdays have since ceased, each one of us still embodies the desire to contribute to charitable foundations through activism. We learned this from both our parents and I can’t help but think that Jerry, popcorn, and orange slices had a little to do with it too.