Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Red Afterthoughts

After every blog I post, a few add-ons pop into my head the same way I often think of something I wish I'd said (or didn't say) on my way home after being with friends.

One such afterthought on red.... I picture a scene and even hear it, in which the Lone Ranger is galloping off to William Tell with his Hi Ho Silver, townfolks are scratching their collective heads wondering who that masked man was.........and there is Tonto in the corner of my vision with his red bandana.

All of which led me to wonder about this guy behind the mask who never hung around to strut and swagger after setting the world right. His humble heroics belonged to the same class as Superman and Batman with their hidden identities; a model which seems to have vanished in our times.

And then there was Tonto, of the side-kick school, a mystery of another sort. He was to the Lone Ranger as Robin was to Batman or Kato to the Green Hornet. The essential second fiddle.

Tonto...the name alone sounds suspiciously like the Yiddish word for Aunt. Could he be of that famous lost tribe of Israelites who had no sense of direction ?

And what are we to make of Kim-O-Sabe, aka Kimosahbe? Scholars have pondered this for decades. PhDs have been written....... or should be. Some say it was simply the name of a boys' camp in Michigan in the family of the radio show's director. Other archivists trace it back to the Ojibwa Indian word kee moh sah be meaning he who peeks as in scout. My favorite is an unknown tribe's term for stupid white man.

More important is the relationship between our two heroes. Just as Charlie Chan's Number One Son routinely came up with the clue that nailed the evildoer so too, did Tonto do the deed that undid the usually mustachioed villain. And he did it without even a hi-ho-silver. My kind of guy.

It occurs to me that the name, Lone Ranger, is itself a put-down to Tonto. What was he, chopped liver?

One witty moment which has stuck in my head since I heard it 40 years ago is the quip from Paul Lind on Hollywood Squares. The question posed was, Is sex better when wearing a mask? Lind's answer, Absolutely, that's why Tonto was always sweating. There's that red bandana again.

There's another story going around which illustrates their relationship (or does it?)

The Lone Ranger and Tonto are camping out in the desert having set up their tent for the night. After a few hours he wakes Tonto and says, Look, up at the sky and tell me what you see.Tonto replies, Me see millions of stars, Kimosabe.

What does that tell you?, asks the Lone Ranger.

Tonto ponders for a minute. Astrologically, speaking it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies. Chronologically, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, it's evident that the Lord is all powerful and we are insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it ell you Kimosabe?

The Lone Ranger is silent a moment, then says, Tonto, you dumb ass, someone has stolen our tent.

I doubt the masked man could find his way out of a corral without his buddy with the red bandana.

1 comment:

  1. In Spanish, Tonto means stupid and dumb.

    Tonto, -A
    1. stupid (persona) (estúpido); silly (menos fuerte)
    pero ¿seré tonto, -a? otra vez me he vuelto a confundir -> I must be stupid or something, I've gone and got it wrong again
    nos toman por tontos -> they think we're idiots
    ¿estás tonto, -a? para qué me pegas? -> don't be stupid! what are you hitting me for?
    ponerse tonto, -a -> to be difficult; (pesado, insistente) to get awkward (arrogante)
    tonto, -a remate -> daft as a brush
    2. dim, backward (retrasado)
    3. mindless (sin sentido) (risa); pointless (esfuerzo)
    a lo tonto, -a -> without realizing it (sin notarlo)
    masculine or feminine noun
    4. idiot
    el tonto, -a del pueblo -> the village idiot
    hacer el tonto, -a -> to mess around; (juguetear) to be stupid o foolish (no actuar con inteligencia)
    hacerse el tonto, -a -> to act innocent
    a tontas y a locas -> without thinking