We were talking about cleaning stuff out and getting rid of it. I’m not a fan, but I can’t keep everything. Yeah, that’s it. I can’t keep everything, because that’s what everyone tells me. Other people are never wrong and never lie. Just ask them, they’ll tell you.
I was still an emotional wreck over throwing priceless treasures out when I found some DVDs. You probably remember DVDs. They’re flat, shiny disks that are inscribed with moving pictures. They’re kind of like a VHS tape, but harder to rewind before you return them. We used them before we started streaming movies over the internet, which is even harder to rewind when you’re done.
While doing the consumer penance of cleaning, I came across these DVDs of cartoons. There were several episodes of “Thomas the Tank Engine” and the incomparable “Mater,” who is like “Ta-mater” without the “Ta.” I took them to the Grandmutant and showed them to him. He didn’t even look up from his “Farm Simulator” game. “I don’t want them” he said. I was crestfallen.
I felt even sadder than I felt when I trashed my used zip-tie collection. As I fretted, I realized that this is the first time in my long life that I’ve been cartoonless. Maybe the term is uncartoonish. I guess it’s the final nail in my virtual coffin. You grow up, you stop watching cartoons, and then you die.
My very first memory was a cartoon. Long ago in a galaxy far away, I was a wee lad in the Herald suburbs. We had a tall antenna that picked up alien broadcasts from the Indiana Star System. They beamed us weekly episodes of the immortal “Beany and Cecil.” You have to remember Beany, the boy with the hat that had a propeller on the top. He was protected by his friend Cecil, the Sea Serpent. It’s a timeless classic like “Gone with the Wind,” but you guys know that.
I and billions of other kids lived for Saturday morning cartoons. Parents obeyed the Animation Amendment to the Bill of Rights, which guarantees life, liberty, sugary cereal, and plentiful cartoons. From morning darkness through the noon hour, we soaked up Bullwinkle and Rocky, Magilla Gorilla, Snagglepuss, and Bugs Bunny. We enjoyed Marvin the Martian and Mr. Peabody while slurping up Captain Crunch soaked in whole milk, with kilograms of added sugar. I wonder how many of us ended up with Diabetes and an affection for Roadrunners. I wasn’t totally over my cartoon obsession when I got to enjoy them with my kids. Beany and Cecil retired, but were replaced by Care Bears and Thundercats. Tom and Jerry took a back seat to Scooby. As a good father, I learned to tolerate the new characters, just for the sake of the kids. Ok, you caught me. I liked some of the cartoons. Care Bears were a little too effeminate, but others were okay. Bugs still rocked the weekend, so I was good. A bunch of the ‘toons got sent to video for your viewing pleasure.
By the time I had Grandkids, Saturday mornings had faded away and were replaced by Disney, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon on cable. Now the kids can get cerealinduced diabetes any hour of any day.
Some of the old standards made the cut to cable, but the king of cartoons was the diabolical “Spongebob Squarepants.” I thought it was the stupidest cartoon ever. Really, it stars a talking sponge? Somebody’s been in the cooking sherry. Why didn’t they have something more plausible, like a bear with a picnic basket addiction or a flying squirrel? It also features an octopus named Squidward. Pick a species already. Squid? Octopus? Which? Still, even a weird cartoon is better than no cartoon. Over the childhoods of a dozen Grandkids, I learned to appreciate the sponge who likes crabby patties and jellyfishing. I even do a passable impression of Patrick the Starfish.
Eventually, the sponge from Bikini Bottom gave way to a show starring stepbrothers with a meddling stepsister and a pet secretagent platypus. Of course I’m talking about the unmatched, intelligent, undefeatable Phineas and Ferb. Brothers from another mother, a secret agent agency made up of four-footed creatures, and an evil scientist ruining “the best day ever” is beyond compare. Maybe someone has been in the sherry again, but in this case, it works really well.
Now in my Geezer years, I don’t have any little kids around to watch cartoons with. I considered borrowing kids, but I guess that’s weird. I can’t get my 14 year old to get off of Fortnite long enough to watch important animated shows. I have to sneak my ‘toons when I can. As for the cartoon DVDs, I put them in a safe place, in case the internet goes away during the apocalypse. Besides, I may still be around when my Great Grandkids are ready for cereal and implausible sea life.
Even if cartoons don’t hold off dementia, they’ll make it more fun. I won’t mind waiting for Cecil to save me from the pureed broccoli. Besides, a talking sponge can make bath time fun.