Like most primitive males my age, I'm a cartoon junkie. My pampered generation was raised on animated images of mice, ducks and rabbits stuffing dynamite down each other's pants and gargling with cyanide-laced cocktails.
It was a feast for us to crowd before the television and admire the heinous mayhem as we laughed our crewcut-smooth heads off. Who can forget the physical shock of seeing an entire watermelon shoved into a cat's mouth, or the lunacy of a mouse lighting a match, deep within the digestive system of an effeminate lion? Cartoons were an art form of insanity, and to kids, insanity is the cheapest ticket on the train out of boredom town. If only we'd known the lingering power of the animated voodoo potions we were ingesting.
To this day, my world remains colored by the cartoons of my youth. Recently, I was raking gravel in an attempt to mimic what others call "manual labor." At a resting point, I laid the rake - one of those rigid-tined monsters - on the ground, teeth up. As I looked at the rake, all I could see was that classic scene where Elmer or Daffy or Donald steps on the tines, and the rake handle pops up to hit him in the nose or beak, as the case may be. I laughed and walked away, knowing that would only happen on the animator's drawing board. Then, a few minutes later, I backed up and accidentally stepped on the rake, causing it to fly up and whack me in the back. The rake hurt the remaining parts of my back that the manual labor had missed. For a moment, I became a cartoon.
Later that night, as I opened my patio door in a part of North Georgia that is far from any man-made noise, I was deafened by the sounds of nature. Crickets were bellowing punk rock tunes; frogs were cranking chainsaws; the other critters were probably playing strip poker and touch football for all I could tell. I just knew it was an incredible din of confusion, and I came very close to screaming, "QUIET!!!!!" But, I didn't. I couldn't stand the thought of giving life to a cartoon cliche I'd seen so many times before. Instead, I rested my sore back on my pillow, and drifted off to sleep, to dream of dynamite and watermelons and rakes.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.