Friday, September 10, 2010
Starting in 1972, however, Smith's work performance started to suffer. Not coincidentally, that's the same year that a hat-wearing brown bear named Yogi arrived in Jellystone. Proclaiming himself to be "smarter than the average bear," Yogi, along with his perpetually-stoned accomplice Boo-Boo, continually ransacked campsites, hi-jacked RV's, and occasionally mauled random tourists simply to rob them of their "pick-a-nick baskets." To be fair, Yogi's larcenous tendencies were not born of mischief, it was his all-consuming addiction to deviled eggs and potato salad that made him do it.
Initially, Smith's efforts were futile. Not only was Yogi indeed smarter than the average bear, he was apparently smarter than the average award-winning park ranger. No matter what tactics Ranger Smith tried, Yogi continued to separate campers from their picnic baskets and over a period of several years park attendance dropped dramatically. I mean, really, who wants to go camping when there's a pretty good chance your deviled eggs are going to get swiped? And of course, as tourism decreased, so did Jellystone's revenue and there was talk of massive cutbacks including the laying off of park rangers.
That's when Ranger Smith decided to take drastic measures to get rid of Yogi Bear once and for all. So he contacted the Acme Company.
Acme was a corporation attempting to rebound from a troubled history. In the mid-70's, the company lost a high-profile lawsuit (W. E. Coyote v. Acme Company, 1974) which cost Acme seventeen million dollars in punitive damages and led to a complete overhaul of their manufacturing guidelines and safety procedures. According to Acme CEO Hannibal Blatch, "We at Acme maintain that our products have always been held to rigorous quality-control standards. The lawsuit brought against us by Wile E. Coyote was frivolous at best, fraudulent at worst. Seriously, what did the guy think was gonna happen when he attached an Acme Giant Spring to a friggin' boulder? And our Acme Catapult comes with a very detailed operator's manual, instructing the customer to stand off to the side of the catapult after the loading process. The reason for this is simple. If you load an extremely heavy object into the catapult like, for example, another friggin' boulder, the device has a tendency to tip over backwards and crush anyone standing directly behind it. Still, losing that lawsuit made all of us at Acme take a more serious approach to product quality, and we haven't had any complaints since."
Ranger John Smith was well aware of Acme's new-and-improved reputation, and when he placed an order for some highly sophisticated deadly devices, he was rewarded with state-of-the-art equipment.
The morning of July 15, 1981, the last day of Yogi Bear's life, literally started off with a bang. Ranger Smith had set a picnic basket full of Acme Exploding Deviled Eggs and Acme Radioactive Potato Salad right next to the entrance to Yogi and Boo-Boo's cave. When Yogi went outside for his morning stroll, he couldn't help but take the bait.
"Hey, Boo-Boo! Take a look at this pick-a-nick basket. Hey hey hee!"
"I don't know, Yogi," said Boo-Boo. "Don't you think that's a little suspicious? A picnic basket just sitting out here with nobody around?"
"Nonsense, Boob. Never look a gift basket in the mouth." He scarfed down a spoonful of potato salad and a half dozen deviled eggs, and with one horrific KABOOM, Yogi erupted like Old Faithful, if Old Faithful spouted blood, fur, and bear guts instead of water and steam.
Boo-Boo, though shaken, was physically unharmed.
Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the good folks at PETA to figure out what had happened, and when they did they were all over Ranger Smith like a fur coat on a Mafia mistress. Succumbing to the media pressure, Jellystone Park's Board of Directors relieved the dishonored ranger of his duties, which is to say, they gave him the boot.
Smith says he has no regrets about his past.
"Look, I'm not proud of what I did back at Jellystone," he said in a recent interview. "I was frustrated, I lost my temper, things happened that I can't take back. I'm enjoying my life as a writer, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I mean, hell, park rangers make about thirty grand a year. My last book pulled in three million. Who's laughing now, Yogi?"
Boo-Boo died in 1984 when a hunter blew his head off. He is now a cozy rug in front of a fireplace in Aspen, Colorado.