Shtick ’Em Up, Folks

“What’s up Doc?”

    Real life is seldom far removed from its cartoon version. The current plague of tattoos suggests the distance is shrinking.

    Elmer Fudd came to mind the other day.

    I was driving out to Montauk Point on Friday, past Deep Hollow Ranch, up the hill to the east overlook with its panoramic view of Oyster Pond and the shores of southern New England beyond it to the north. Halfway down the hill I spied an S.U.V. parked on the side of the road. Suddenly, a deer leapt across the road between the vehicle and me. As I passed, the two men inside, one holding a thermos, were laughing. The story unfolded in a flash.

    It was late afternoon on the last day of shotgun season. The men were hunters just back from the woods tired, deer-less, and, they were acknowledging, Fudd-like, that the deer, its white tail flipping the equivalent of the bird, had won.

    I drove onward to the Point to check the waves. Looking south I saw the guide boat that’s been taking duck hunters out after scoters all season. The boat was anchored about 200 yards offshore of Turtle Cove, its string of black decoys bobbing nearby. I walked into the cove, watched the waves for a while — a peaceful scene, the guns silent aboard the duck boat.

    I continued around the Lighthouse, hiking its rock bulwarks to the northeast side of the peninsula and out of sight of the guide boat. There, stretched toward the horizon, floated a raft of scoters measuring at least an acre in diameter, Daffy gloating among them.

    It made me think of a scene — help me here — I think it was Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd, or it could have been Daffy and Yosemite Sam. In any case, one of them was duck hunting. Daffy had come up behind, shadowing the gunslinger step for step. Finally, he prods the hunter’s butt with a stick and says: “Shtick ’em up, or I’ll blow your brains out.”

    “What’s up Doc?” Are we the hunters or the hunted? I think both. We’re fast becoming caricatures of ourselves. The Looney Tunes are coming for us: Game Boy, Sarah Palin, Duck Dynasty, Dennis Rodman, Justin Bieber, the Wolf of Wall Street, Super Bowl, Governor Christie, Congress, Bad Ink, on and on. They’re creeping up our legs, our backs, our necks. If we’re not careful our hearts will soon be lost upon our sleeves. That’s all folks.