When I was a kid, everything I needed to know to get through life I had already learned from cartoons before I graduated kindergarten. I learned how to be sarcastic, underhanded and a master of disguise from Bugs Bunny which I felt could come in handy some day if someone tries to serve me with a bench warrant. I learned the importance of being greedy, greedy, greedy and more greedy from Daffy Duck, which could come in handy if I pursued a career on Wall Street. From Porky Pig, I found that speaking very fast, erratically and unintelligently while looking both enthusiastic and confused could land me in the US Congress.
Honestly, the Warner Brothers cartoon characters gave me all the tools to get through life that is, except for maybe Wiley E. Coyote. I found this out when I tried to run through a wall. I don't think that cartoons would lie, so I bet Wiley E. Coyote was more than one coyote. He probably had a really big extended family and all the Coyote kids were named Wiley E.
Seeing that I already knew everything that I needed to know, I could never understand why I had to go to school. Whenever I tried explaining this to my dad he would just roll his eyes and grumble: "Don't worry about the horse being blind just load the wagon".
I never knew exactly what this meant because we didn't own a horse, more or less a blind one, at least as far as I could tell. But, it would have been really cool if we did own a horse, especially a blind one. I used to always ask Santa for a blind horse for Christmas, but all he ever gave me was an oversized sweater which my mom always liked. It made me wonder just exactly who was running the North Pole. Mrs. Clause?
I had the best, best friend in the world whose name was Chris. Chris was the smartest person in the world when I was in kindergarten; he knew everything there was to know, so whenever I was confused about something or did not understand it, Chris would always enlighten me.
We both spent a lot of time after school watching the Flintstones' cartoons. We watched the Flintstones because it wasn't Saturday morning, but needless to say it was a cartoon which meant a learning experience for Chris and me.
Both of us always wanted to do what Fred Flintstone did. He spent all day in a rock quarry riding a dinosaur breaking rocks. When we told this to my dad he just grumbled back at us: "Just keep going the way you're going and you'll get plenty of time doing hard labor in a rock quarry".
I was so glad my dad was so supportive of all my dreams and aspirations.
It was one day after school that Chris and I were watching a new Flintstones' cartoon. It was the one were Fred Flintstone got really annoyed at Kazoo and put him in bird cage at the end of the cartoon. The whole ending of the episode was extremely disturbing for the both of us.
I do believe that this particular incident was the reason that I am the way I am today.
When we lamented the fact that poor kazoo was imprisoned in a birdhouse, my dad gruffly interjected: "Shut up you two. A lot of people are locked up in a birdhouse and if you keep it up you will be too".
"Hey, wait a minute, aren't you two supposed to go to the zoo tomorrow".
The question knocked us out of our mourning for the plight of poor Kazoo and we belatedly answered: "Yes".
"Well how about that", contemplated my dad.
"So you want to save Kazoo?"
"Well, but of course we do!" Shouted out Chris and I in unison.
"Great", answered my dad with an evil smirk. "Well, you'll find Kazoo at the zoo. That's were Fred Flintstone put him. So all you have to do tomorrow when you go to the zoo is find him and let him out".
We looked at each other and cheered: "Yea! It's on to the zoo to save our Kazoo".
"We're going to be heroes", shouted Chris.
"We're going to be on the news and famous", I yelled back.
"You're both going to end up in a loony bin", my dad sighed sadly. "But at least we'll all get some peace and quiet around here".
Boy was my dad a great dad or what?
The next day, Chris and I arrived at school with determination and purpose. Unfortunately, our teacher, Mrs. Drupe didn't seem to share our enthusiasm when we told her of our plan to free Kazoo. She just groaned and put her head in her hands and cried: "Oh God! Why me? Why me?"
It was pretty obvious that Mrs. Drupe didn't spend much time watching cartoons because if she had, she would have been in a much more positive state of mind. I mean, honestly, who doesn't like Kazoo.
When it was time for the field trip, which couldn't have been soon enough for Mrs. Drupe, we were all sent in pairs to our chaperones. It was then that Mrs. Drupe proudly announced happily that Chris and I, who she referred to as Double Trouble would have to spend the day with Mrs. Bruise. As she escorted us off to the bus she pointed to a very, very huge lady and happily proclaimed: "There you go Double Trouble! There's you chaperone! Whohoooo!"
As we walked towards Mrs. Bruise we could not help noticing that Mrs. Drupe appeared to be very, very happy. As a matter of fact, it was the first time that either one of us had actually seen here happy at all. We could even see her clicking her heels as she went back into the school entrance while singing: "They're gone! They're gone! For one day I am finally free from them!"
We were absolutely shocked that Mrs. Drupe could actually jump and click her heels. I guess there was hope for her after all.
We didn't get more than three steps towards her than Mrs. Bruise cracked her knuckles and bellowed: "So come here you Degenerate Vermin. It's time for our little field trip". She had huge hands and biceps that made Mr. Universe look like Mr. Green Jeans from Captain Kangaroo.
We were really impressed with Mrs. Bruise from the outset. The fact that she called us Degenerate Vermin was really cool and way better than being called Double Trouble.
We always wanted a cool name for our gang which we were always in the process of forming. Cool gang names like the James-Younger Gang of Jesse James or Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. Now those were really cool gang names. Double Trouble just really stunk, but Degenerate Vermin? Now that is a really cool gang name.
No sooner had we gotten up to Mrs. Bruise then she grabbed us both by the hair and dragged us onto the bus and slammed us into an empty seat while sitting down in a seat in the aisle right across from us. She squished both of our heads together with her huge meat hooks of hands, leered over us and gave us a big evil grin that contained a mouth full of crooked, rotting yellow teeth. She then opened her mouth and blew out a breath that could knock out a polar bear and sneered: "So you degenerate vermin, it looks like this field trip is going to be a whole lot different than the last ones. Your reputation precedes you. I intend to beat the dogs until they howl for mercy".
This was the most impressive woman that we had ever met, hell she had everyone beat. Her huge hands were made of iron and made the Incredible Hulk look like one of the Jolly Green Giant's elves.
Later on after the field trip Chris was certain that Mrs. Bruise was the Hulk's mom. He said the reason she wasn't green like the Incredible Hulk was due to the fact that the green color fades with age. Like a lot of adults, a lot of things fade with age, just like my mom and dad's sanity. I always hoped that I would never become an adult and end up like my dad who always sat in his chair and muttered how God really did a fast one on him.
The bus barely pulled out of the school parking lot than Mrs. Bruise pulled out a brown paper bag out of which she pulled a large walnut. She smiled and stared at us and with her right hand crushed the walnut. She opened her hand, pulled the meat out and threw it out the window and proceeded to eat the shells.
This was the most impressive act that Chris and I had seen our entire lives. We were so excited that we finally had a chaperone who understood us and by her actions it was quite obvious she watched a whole lot of cartoons.
After eating the shells of about 3 walnuts, she crushed a fourth one, threw out the meat and held her huge paw out in from of us and sneered:
Chris and I looked at each other and Chris gave me that Chris look and looked at Mrs. Bruise, shrugged his shoulders and shook his head from side to side and replied: "No thank you Mrs. Bruise, we've already had a whole bunch of rocks for breakfast. So we're really quite full now".
"Whaaat?" an exasperated Bruise cried.
"Oh yes ma'am", continued Chris. "Every morning Mike and I stop by a little spring on the way to school and eat a few handfuls of rocks. Unfortunately, this morning's pickings were a bit rough and we had to wash them down with a handful of sand, so our constitution is a bit uneasy if you know what I mean".
Mrs. Bruise didn't say anything the rest of the way to the zoo. She just kept muttering something about incorrigible vermin, which we just figured was probably just another gang that she knew of. Come to think about it, Incorrigible Vermin would have been a better name for a gang than Degenerate Vermin so it was unfortunate that another gang already had it.
Once at the zoo, we no sooner got off the bus than Mrs. Bruise told us to stay by the bus while she went down to a creek that flowed by the zoo's outskirts to sample the local grit. She said if vermin from hell could eat rocks than so could she.
"Damn", exclaimed Chris as we watched Mrs. Bruise head down to the stream. "It looks like all the best gang names have already been taken".
We immediately ignored Mrs. Bruise's orders and left the bus. We were intent on finding out where Kazoo was being held hostage so that we could let him out. We asked several adults if they knew where Kazoo was being kept prisoner and they all pretty much gave us the same answer: "Hey, aren't you kids supposed to be in school?"
When we told them we were on a field trip, they would ask: "Aren't you supposed to have a chaperone?"
We answered by telling them that are chaperone was sampling the local grit down by the creek that flowed by the zoo. We said that she probably needed a couple of handfuls of sand to wash down her walnut shells.
Needless to say none of the adults could tell us where Kazoo was being held hostage. It was a shame that none of them had any sense of urgency on the matter of Kazoo. As a matter of fact I bet none of them ever watched cartoons, because if they did they wouldn't have started saying that they had to notify zoo security about a couple of lost kids.
We walked for a good twenty minutes until we came across a big sign that had the words 'Balloons' written on it and an arrow pointing down a hill towards a huge pavilion.
Man did Chris and I love balloons.
We immediately ran down to the pavilion and started looking for the balloon guy. We found him right smack in the middle of the pavilion.
The balloon guy was a thin wiry, wound up guy who looked like one of those guys that always ended up dead or in a straight jacket in a loony bin on one of those police shows. He was probably no more than 30, although, those years of not watching cartoons had most likely added 10 to 15 years wear on him. The guy looked like he really had some major problems and could probably use some psychiatric advice from Charlie Brown's Lucy.
We happily came up to the balloon guy and requested a couple of balloons. In a downtrodden voice the guy pointed to the balloons blown up on a cork board with all the different colored balloons and asked:
"So which color balloon do you want?"
We both stared at one another and looked around and then looked upwards to the top of the pavilion which was some twenty feet above the ground. The top of the pavilion was filled with escaped balloons of every color imaginable. There were red, blue, yellow and pink balloons which had all fought for their freedom, only to be deterred by the pointed top of the pavilion. It was a travesty that could only be rectified by freeing those poor renegades of freedom by none other than Chris and I. Kazoo could wait. The balloons must go free. Hell, all we had to do to free kazoo was open a cage or just flat out steal it, now freeing the balloons? That was a whole different matter entirely.
Pointing to the top of the pavilion Chris cried: "I want that red one up there that is right next to the pole at the very top".
The words no sooner left Chris' mouth than I cried out: "I want the blue one next to it".
Looking upwards the balloon man answered: "Geez, kids you can't have those balloons. You have to take the ones here that I blow up. So you guys want a red balloon and a blue balloon, right?"
The balloon guy blew up a red balloon and said to Chris: "Here you go kid".
"No! No!" Cried Chris pointing upwards: "I want that red one up there".
The balloon guy's hands started shaking and he began running his hands over his lips. After a minute or two he turned to me and asked:
"Listen kid, you want a blue balloon right?"
"Cool, so um, let me blow you up a nice blue balloon and…"
"Not that balloon", I shouted. "I want a balloon next to Chris' red balloon".
The scenario continued for some 10 or 15 minutes with the balloon guy trying to persuade us to take balloons of lesser determination than the ones at the top of the pavilion. The balloon guy became even more animated and eventually started screaming and yelling about the fact that the Russian communists are infiltrating the US and taking over the balloon business. He pushed over his stand and within minutes security arrested him.
Zoo security did ask us what actually happened and with our statements and those of other witnesses quickly determined that the balloon guy was a communist.
At this point time Mrs. Bruise had come back from sampling the local grit from the zoo's creek and immediately pointed to Chris and me and started shouting through a mouth full of sand:
"Urs Dengret bermin! Kril em! Krill em now!"
She then took a flying leap at Chris and I, taking out six of the zoo's security guards. After a long struggle, the remaining security guards managed to subdue Mrs. Bruise although all of them suffered significant injuries that
surely qualified them for workers compensation.
After the incident, our entire class was escorted out of the zoo by the zoo's concession staff, seeing that all of the zoo's security was currently disabled and told never to come back.
Thinking back on the whole incident, I can only wonder how much better the situation would have been if everyone would have just watched cartoons. If they did, they would have helped us free Kazoo from the zoo.