Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dennis the Menace

Remember that old '50s TV show based on the Dennis the Menace comics? No? It used to be on Nick at Nite all the time. It was called Dennis the Menace.

Well, about 15 years ago I was visiting my parents and decided to drive up to Tampa to check out this antique toy show. I figured there would probably be some cool old robot or monster toys that I probably couldn't actually afford, but it's not like I was doing anything else, and maybe that cute girl that ran that vintage store in Ybor City who was nice to me would be there and she'd dump her stupid boyfriend/co-owner and we'd start a new life together, buying and selling awesome old toys and ...

Oh yeah, Dennis the Menace.

Jay North, the actor who portrayed Dennis was advertised as being a special guest star for this thing. I didn't really care. I was more concerned with the two women in front of me who kept braying in horrible New Jersey accents about how the show was being run inefficiently because it was done by Floridians.

I'm not a huge regional pride guy. I mean, sure, you have a connection to your area, either because your parents made you grow up there or you were too frightened of the bigger world to move away or you just like the area, but really, who cares? What are we? Bosnia?

But these ladies were really rubbing me the wrong way, mostly because they betrayed a lack of manners. I wouldn't go to wherever they were from and loudly complain that people used made-up words like 'youse' and 'dese' and dressed in wife-beaters and sweatpants. When you're in a foreign place, you accept the local culture.

No matter where I went, they always seemed to be right in front of me. They had to make comments at every booth, saying stuff like, "What is dat? Dat's stoopid" to vendors, and generally bringing a hateful little cloud of sarcasm and rudeness into my hunt for robots and Draculas. Strangely enough, the only thing they seemed to be excited about was the special appearance by Jay North.

I finally lost them and was hanging around a booth that was full of boss (and expensive) Planet of the Apes toys. As I'm poking around I hear Jay North take the stage. I still don't care, so I keep shifting around the plastic apes, wishing that my part-time offset printing job actually paid enough to provide for both essentials and awesomeness.

After a while, I realize that Dennis is getting more and more excited, so I start paying attention. I manage to catch him right in the middle of a rant about how television changed for the worse in the '60s.

"It seems people didn't need family friendly TV anymore," the Menace raged. "No, they only wanted weird stuff about hippies driving around solving mysteries, smoking dope and having sex."

Wait, how did I miss that show? Was that on HBO?

He continued on in that vein for a while, sounding angrier and angrier, but that's the only quote I can remember. I'd like to say that someone pulled him off with one of those big shepherd's crooks, but I'm pretty sure that didn't happen. I did see the cute Ybor City vintage store owner, mumbled a "hi" to her and left without buying anything or starting a new life.

A couple years after that I heard Dennis the Menace had a right wing radio show, which makes a lot of sense, although it's not on his Wikipedia page. He will probably be Florida's next senator.

And the obnoxious women? They would end up being the first female co-presidents of the United States. But that is a story for another time.

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