It happened every Saturday morning without fail, somewhere in between The Jetsons and Scooby Doo: my favorite, albeit brief program came on. It started with the Color Bars and ended with "this has been a test of the emergency broadcast system" and just before the slightly painful tone that let you know the test truly was being run, the famed announcement requesting all viewers to "Please Stand By".
This was my cue to get up from the floor in front of the large console TV and rush to its side to stand at attention, allowing the test to be properly conducted. How many times did I do this in earnest before realizing the error of my ways? Memory does not serve in this capacity, alas; I remember best the giggling times (several years worth) after I'd realized the command was not intended literally, but before the repeated joke had finally stretched the patience of both my parents to the limit.
I never grew tired of it myself, and would to this day enjoy the chance to "stand by", but they haven't made that announcement in years. It's a funny sort of nostalgia, I guess, this yearning for something most typical kids must have found an irritating waste of cartoon time. Thinking back to my childhood in the 1960's, I imagine living rooms across the U.S. inhabited by unidentified autistic children, lining up to follow the solemn announcer's instructions, learning the colors cyan and magenta, helping the TV get on with its job, taking part in the ritual, our own autistic version of the seventh inning stretch.