Monday, March 24, 2014

A Tale of Two Toons, A Tune of Two Tails, Atonal Symmetry?

For the briefest of moments I’m going to jail.  “I’ll kill him!”  I’d just noticed him back riding his trike in the cul-de-sac.  “Third birthday or not, I’ll kill him!”  The hand of God had kept the maple syrup all on the table, though not on his now devoid of pancake plate.  I stride to and through the garage, fully prepared to go the first and middle name route while ordering my grandson into the house.

But by the time I reach the curb, Little Man wants to throw Popi the tennis ball that has somehow found its way into his hands.  Well, it’s not quite noon, it is his birthday, the maple syrup didn’t drip on the floor.  Discipline, I guess, can wait, and maybe a spanking, rather than capital punishment, will suffice.  After a game of catch that meanders to the corner of our short quiet street, avoids the sewers, and is joined by Duke and Blackjack, our canine contingent, and following a brief visit with a neighbor, his two little ones and their garage-stored treasures, the four of us are back in our own garage.

Stepping inside, I pick up the Birthday Boy (he’s pretty oblivious to the significance of the day, despite the pancake treat for breakfast) and say I have something to show him.  A smile begins to form on his little face until I point out that Popi is angry and that he may even have to get a spanking.  I stand him in his chair, right in front of the maple syrup mess.  When I ask who did this, he very softly answers, “I did.”

Barring further transgression, he’s dodged the whippin’ at this point, but the belt, conveniently sitting on the table, still has a role to play.  I show him the uneaten pancakes upon which the wasted syrup could have been more usefully spread and reinforce the “We don’t waste food, we don’t play with our food” rules, cussing VERY infrequently (no mean feat for Popi).  I pick up the belt but tell him I’m not going to use it because he told Popi the truth, and then again ask who did this and he again admits his misdeed.  Only then do I lay down the belt.

After a bit more good boy – bad boy distinction and the pronouncement that he must be punished, I pick him up and carry him over to one of the couches in the adjoining den.  I sentence him to 30 minutes of “Time-Out,” to which he issues no appeal – and knowing full well he’ll be napping long before then.  Sure enough the first time I look up from my cussing and cleaning, he’s knocked out.

Sleep well, Oh Grandson-o-mine!

Narrator (ideally voiced by William “Cannon” Conrad):
Can Little Man avoid further transgression?  Will the pancakes spoil? Did the tennis ball keep avoiding the sewer?  Join us for our next exciting episode:
Don’t Mess with My Naps, or Samson, I Warned You!

A week or so later while doing the retirement thing (i.e. enjoying a midday snooze), the need-to-know “itch” began to intrude on a brain that was still somewhere ‘twixt awake and asleep.  That voice… damn, I know that voice, but…

For some reason, I don’t immediately open my eyes, probably because some part of my being was still inclined toward slumber.  But I kept hearing that voice – and not like a song that gets stuck in your head that only you can hear.  Not only was it coming from the TV in front of which I had dozed, it seemed like a TV voice and even felt right emanating from that particular TV in my office / Man Room (though I’m not even sure if I knew where I was).

Curiosity was steadily forging ahead of the retirement thing in the battle for my attention.  In what dusty corner of my TV viewing recollections does that voice reside?  WHO IS THAT?

Somehow – subliminal stream of consciousness, perhaps – fables and cartoons began to merge in my mind, and the realization came to me more as a slow “Oh, yeah!” than a sudden “Aha!”  It was Aesop, from the old Aesop and Son cartoons.  (Think Rocky, Bullwinkle, and Tennessee Tuxedo.)  Fuzzy nostalgia had dredged up “Fractured Fairy Tales” and “as told by Edward Everett Horton” by the time I realized that the other voice (Oh no, not another Who Dat!) didn’t sound like Aesop’s son.  It didn’t take as long – maybe because I finally had sense enough to open my eyes – to recognize Jay North portraying Dennis the Menace.  Aesop, I mean Mr. Horton (so that’s how he looked) was playing Mr. Wilson’s relative – and Dennis’s foil, of course.  Wally Cleaver’s best gal Mary Ellen Rogers was also featured in this episode, for all the “Leave It To Beaver” fans.

In subsequent episodes, Lucille Ball’s long-time straight man Gale Gordon’s been portraying Mrs. Wilson’s brother-in-law.  Should we be concerned for Good Ol’ Mr. Wilson?  Oh, the perils of this retirement thing – fretting over whether a sit-com actor from half a century ago is ailing, or just holding out.  You know, in this Information Age, it shouldn’t be too hard to get to the bottom of this, even if this conundrum has not been deemed worthy by ETV, Unsolved Mysteries, or even Peabody’s Improbable History.  I think I’d better investigate – right after I finish doing the retirement thing.