Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Moving Pictures

I know not whether Robert Fulghum was right - although in view of what a colossal waste of time, money and sweat equity law school was I suspect that he was speaking truthfully - but I know that as a little dude I learned a great deal NOT in school but by watching Bugs Bunny cartoons after school every afternoon.   An education provided to me by the earnest efforts of my older brother Kelly.  Today is his birthday (and in an entirely unrelated event it is United Nations Day) and while I suspect that he shall spend it as he spends every day of the calendar year that ends in a "Y", which is working, I hope he has a free moment or two to celebrate it. 

I have written in this space about the great benefit of being the last car on an elongated train of six siblings.  It served me well - especially so when I was a child.  While it was from my big brother Bill that I acquired my love of Springsteen music and the ability to read by my 2nd birthday it was from Kelly - middle of the three Kenny sons and the link between the first half of Mom/Dad's kid caravan and those of us on the back half - that I learned an appreciation for humor and its role in education.  His classroom?  Our family room in the old barn of a Revolutionary War home where we lived on Canal Road.  His tools of learning?  The television and the daily dose of Looney Tunes that was faithfully beamed through it every afternoon.   I know not whether I have in fact learned more from a three-minute record than I ever learned in school but I know emphatically that through the adventures of Bugs Bunny I learned quite a lot about quite a lot of subjects. 

When my two were children, which they have not been for a number of years, I recoiled in horror at the poor quality of the cartoons that were targeted for their age group.  The animation was atrocious and the story telling was unimaginative.  I was happy to have had my own reservoir of Bugs-related knowledge upon which to draw and to share with them.  It enabled them to have an opportunity to experience something that they might not have otherwise known existed.  It was an experience I was able to share with them only because when I was their age Kelly ensured that I lived it and learned it. 

(Parenthetically he also quizzed me every day as to the name of that year's winner of the Kentucky Derby and assured me - in spite of documentary evidence to the contrary - that "Charley Horse" won every year and always by the same razor-thin margin - "A hair on his nose".  It was not until age thirteen that I discovered this was not in fact the case.  It was also the age at which I regained full feeling in my left leg so it was a cause for celebration for more than just one reason.  But I digress....)

In addition to being the Professor of Animated Features at my School of Life, he was also - somewhat incredibly I think given that when I was a "single digit" kid he was a high school cool kid - the fiercest protector of the Santa Claus legend I have ever encountered.  When I was in first grade - and prone to the occasional (if in your world recess constituted an "occasion") Grand Mal epileptic seizure - it was Kelly who gave me the information needed to rebuff the claim of the first non-believer in our class, which allowed me a brief moment of not being referred to as "We'll take him" by my classmates.  Better yet, when I came home the following day crushed by my young antagonist's deliberately dismissive query, "If there is a Santa Claus then how does he deliver presents around the whole world in one night?" it was Kelly who - without even having to pause to consider the import of the question - gave me my retort.  "Time zones", said I without fear of being challenged.  And I was not. 

I hope today that he has a free moment or two to celebrate his birthday.  Perhaps put his feet up and take in a feature....or two  In the spirit of the season, perhaps he shall even make time for a third

After all, monsters lead such interesting lives....

....and can always conjure up a laugh.  A lesson imparted upon me a lifetime ago in a classroom far, far away.


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