Saturday, April 9, 2011

The hard choices of my youth

When I was a lad, my return home from school at the end of the day had as its highlight the weekday afternoon cartoons that I could find on network TV. Upon my arrival I would instantly plop myself in front of the tube, taking off my shoes and socks (which tended to collect in the living room) so that our dog Cinnamon could lick my feet. Over the next hour and a half I would soak up the rays and eat various snacks (my favorite: raisins).

Every day this left me with a hard choice: which channel to watch? This was not an easy decision for a kid growing up in the time where every cartoon was a golden flower of originality and humor that only came but once a day, never to return again.

On the one hand, I had Disney Afternoon. Gummi Bears came on at 3:00, and as I usually got home at about 3:20, I seldom watched that one.

The next cartoon was Duck Tales, which I relished, and would hardly have missed if not for the fact that it faced deadly temporal competition with such a worthy foe.

You see, during that same crucial hour, when all the school kids were glued to the tube to have their heads filled with advertisements of My Buddy, Big Big Loader and all manner of tooth-rotting breakfast desserts they passed off for cereal (you see what an effect it had in that I still remember them), CBS placed the mighty Tiny Toons.

If that weren't bad enough, the next spot on the Disney Afternoon was Rescue Rangers, which surely would have been the unchallenged favorite of my afternoon had it not been for what CBS had to offer.

During that same crucial half hour, CBS broadcast arguably the greatest kids cartoon of all time. Choosing between Rescue Rangers and Animaniacs was surely too much for so frail a mind, young as mine was, to deal with. Its a miracle I survived childhood.

It may be that my young will was too much taxed by that effort of choice because by the next hour, even though the competition was not so fierce, I often didn't have the desire to continue watching TV, and actually went outside sometimes. On the days I decided to keep going, the last one on the agenda was Tale Spin.

All this is to say nothing of the same grief that came up before school and, even worse, on Saturday mornings. All I can say is that it's a good thing I didn't grow up with Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Disney. I'm certain that if I had, the only way I would have known the sky was blue would be to simply trust that the people who made it that color in the shows I was watching knew what they were doing.

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