Monday, August 20, 2007

Toon Time

I’m just old enough to be amazed whenever I find what I’m looking for on the Web. A younger person might take it for granted that he could buy vintage basketball shoes or long-out-of-print books, or find the hard-to-decipher lyrics to a Guided by Voices song. But I’m always as wonderstruck as a rube in the big city.

So I was typically floored recently when I found an inventory of old Warner Brothers Looney Toons cartoons on YouTube. This was the stuff of the Saturday mornings of my childhood--Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote and Daffy Duck for about two hours each week. There’s no telling how much the rules of cartoon nature informed my world view in those days. I grew up believing that dynamite shacks dotted the American landscape, that shotgun barrels could be tied in knots like twine, and that people only fell from high places after first hanging motionless in midair for a second and shooting a pathetic look and a wave goodbye at the viewer.

I had given up my Saturday-morning cartoon habit a while ago, but through no choice of my own. I stopped watching only because all those great cartoons had disappeared from TV years ago, replaced by crummy, humorless martial-arts cartoons whose only point seemed to be to sell action figures.

I rediscovered my old Looney Toons favorites because my son A.J. was reading about animals in the desert and asked me a question about roadrunners. I made some comment about roadrunners not really saying “beep-beep” and he just stared back at me and asked what I was talking about. So I searched for a coyote and roadrunner clip to show him, and found a gold mine. We watched a couple of them together on my laptop, and he liked them—and it’s a rare surprise when your kid will admit to liking something that you have pushed on him.

So we’ve started a new Saturday morning tradition. We watch some Looney Toons together on my laptop. This is one of fatherhood’s real blessings—the license to indulge your leftover adolescent tastes, and do it in the name of good parenting. And best of all, since we’re watching on the little screen of my laptop, my boy and I have to sit right on top of each other, his head on my shoulder, one of my arms around him, laughing together. I hope this tradition lasts a long time.

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