I, Rangerphile

Once quite a while back, in time nearly forgotten to me, I was a small child of 4. Maybe a bit older, I forget. Details like that weren’t important then. One day, something new entered my life. Being something of a wire head from an early age, my life mostly centered on my NES and the TV (This is before there was a comp in every household).

On that TV, something had changed. Disney had thrown together a block of shows, a Disney Afternoon. I had some familiarity with one of the shows involved (DuckTales), so I decided to delay my gaming and leave the channel where it was. I was definitely right to make that decision.

Gummi Bears went by first, a fun show. Then there was the more familiar DuckTales. At the end, there was the oh-so-entertaining TaleSpin. But it was the third show in the lineup that really grabbed my attention: Chip n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers. Sure, I watched other stuff, but this quickly became my favorite show.

I was familiar with Chip & Dale of course. Who wasn’t? Classic Disney characters that I’d encountered beforehand along with numerous others. And, in all honesty, the episode aired that fateful afternoon still eludes me (though perhaps if I saw it again . . .). However, this show, specifically the group of heroes portrayed therein, touched something below the surface of my young psyche in places I wouldn’t know existed until many years later.

As I religiously watched the show every afternoon, I began to identify with the characters to varying degrees. As my young mind developed, I seemed to connect more with one in particular than the others. However, that would be another essay in and of itself.

The ideals represented by the Rangers slowly imbedded themselves in my brain. Back then, I wasn’t quite developed enough to understand this, and they were just beyond my ability to live up to.

Time passed, I moved to another state, and my beloved Rangers were replaced by a certain orange feline who shall remain nameless. This was a disaster! However, our cable plan included as station I’d not been aware of before: the Disney Channel. With renewed hope, I started following the station, and was rewarded with my favorite shoe being returned to me. I could see my friends once again. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t to last. . .

Some people believe that life eventually forces everyone to ‘grow up’. By ‘grow up’, they mean abandon that childish sense of wonder, abandon that which shaped us, and forget everything about who we are deep down. I believe that both parts of this assertion are false. First, in the words of Walt Disney, “Why do we have to grow up?” If one accepts the above definition of growing up, one essentially believes that to move on, one must die inside. Nothing good can come of this. Beyond this, I believe that maturity doesn’t require the death of who you were. That’s nonsense. One doesn’t have to ‘grow up’ to be mature, and one can be ‘grown up’, yet as immature as the day they were born. We don’t have to ‘grow up’.

I was in the process of ‘growing up’ as society apparently wanted me to. So, when my favorite show vanished again, the link to my true self that it provided was erased, and that me was plunged into darkness, leaving a pale imitation of myself behind, one that didn’t mind the loss. But that core being hadn’t been destroyed, only buried alive.

Years passed, life went on, and the buried me struggled to escape. It broke through in fragments here and there, but more and more was piled on top of it. Eventually, the shadow of myself I had become had forgotten about it.

But still it survived. Eventually, everything came crashing down on the life the shadow had built, and the dirt over the old me was disturbed enough to allow it to shine through once more. However, this would take time, undoing the damage of years past.

So much had been lost over the years. I had forgotten who this person was. Why he was this way? What gave him the strength to survive everything when the rest of me was devastated? I dug through every fragment of my past I could find in tangible form. I found a little bit here, a little more there, but the underlying foundation still eluded me. Hope was fading once more.

Then, one day, on a random trip through Wikipedia, I happened to stumble across some data that jogged some of my old memories, the Disney Afternoon article. Something drew me to examine the lineup once more, and I found myself reading the articles on shows long past. I knew I was close. And then, as I clicked on one of the linked articles, 2 chipmunks appeared on my screen, one in a fedora and bomber jacket, the other with a red, flower print Hawaiian shirt. And then I began to remember.

I knew! I read the article and I knew! I then tore through the links, absorbing everything I could find. And I finally remembered. But something was still missing. And it wasn’t long that I found those parts.

First, I found that I wasn’t alone in this. There were numerous others that had been affected as I had by this show. I found myself browsing a forum called “The Acorn Café”. I quickly joined and was accepted into their number. And I was home. I was where I belonged. Differences aside, these people were all connected by a wonderful bond, forged by this thing which had touched and shaped us all.

But there was one thing left, and I knew what it was. I found myself prowling the Family section of the Hastings VHS rentals, looking for it. And there, on the shelf as though it were some ordinary video, was a single RR VHS (Specifically, Double Trouble, consisting of “Dale Beside Himself” and “Flash the Wonder Dog”). A buck later I rushed home and commandeered the VCR.

I watched in relative privacy and things began to come back to me in a torrent of forgotten memories. How had I forgotten? How had this been buried in my mind for so long? Why hadn’t I held on to something so important? I found myself with tears of pure joy streaming down my face. I had at last found what I had lost so long ago . . .

The Rangers, along with their friends and foes, shaped the person I eventually became. The Rescue Rangers made more of an impact on me than I could possibly quantify. And I openly profess my devotion to them and what they stand for.

 

I, John William Patterson IV, am a Rangerphile, thankful for it, and proud of it.

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