Sunday nights were special growing up: there was usually a Walt Disney movie on TV, we were permitted to eat in the living room (as long as we sat on the floor), and it was pizza and pop for dinner! Today those are not out-of-the ordinary events; back then, at least for my family, each one of those was.
Living in a small farming community in Central Illinois, cable TV didn’t exist. We had an antenna on top of the house that picked up 3 channels from the Quad Cities: ABC, CBS and NBC. If the wind was blowing from the south, the same 3 network channels from the Peoria area came through on UHF, sometimes with different programming. Strong gusts blew PBS into view on occasion and made the 7-channel option mind blowing. Channel surfing consisted of one of us sitting on the floor next to the TV, first turning the VHF knob all the way around clockwise, and then doing the same for the UHF knob. When Sunday night rolled around, there was no question what we would be watching…and that we would all be watching it together at the same time. For in those days, when a special movie or program was on, all other things had to stop – there was no VCR, no DVR, and no HULU. You had one shot to watch it.
Dinner was a set of standards at our house: 6:00pm, 1 meat, 1 starch, 2 vegetables, milk and a stack of Wonder bread slices on a small plate for Dad. Mom home-cooked most everything from farm-raised meat and the vegetables grown in the huge garden out back. We lived organically before it was trendy, and the meals were delicious! And yet at times I was jealous of friends who ate processed foods seemingly on a regular basis, so Sunday night frozen pizza night was a big deal to me. To add to the special occasion, we were allowed to drink pop; that’s coke to the southeasterners and soda to the northeasterners and south-westerners.
Even at the young age of 6, I had a subconscious awareness of volume displacement. While Stacy would always pour the pop in first, I put the ice first, counting carefully to keep track of putting an equal amount of cubes in each glass… yet ensuring the largest cubes went into the first glass. It took both hands to hold it and gently pour out the pop into the big semi-transparent olive green plastic glasses we would use (which my Mom probably still has in her kitchen cupboard). I made sure, through vigilant observation and a drop-by-drop pouring technique as the bottle emptied, that the pop level in the first glass ended up a touch higher than the other. The difference between the pop levels in both glasses had to be almost exact yet marginally different for this to work – the tolerance was 1-2 millimeters.
A devious scheme to garner one extra gulp, to which no one was the wiser…certainly not my sister. She picked the first glass. Every. Single. Time.