Wile E Coyote, the Road Runner and wine

Meep-Meep!

Road Runner is the most philosophical cartoon in the history of cartoons and philosophy both. The character you root for says a lot about your outlook on life. When I was a kid watching Looney Tunes on Sunday evenings, I was rooting for the Road-Runner. Hey, he was the good guy; after all, the coyote was trying to eat him. Will E Coyote was definitely the villain, menacing, predatory, and hungry for road runner roast. It seemed very clear cut to me, especially since the road runner ended up winning all the time. It’s a cartoon, if you win; you must be the hero, right?

That's an actual Road Runner bird

That’s an actual Road Runner bird

Now, I realized that, in my ripe old age, I root for the coyote. He’s trying so hard! He’s using guile, smarts, technology, and cunning to reach his goal, usually with very little regards for physics or personal safety. He’s doing his best, and he’s redefining the word failure each and every time. On the other hand, the road runner is kind of a dick to the coyote, mocking him, teasing him (did you know that in French, the trademark “Meep-Meep” is translated to “Bip-Bip”?) and ultimately “winning”. The road runner doesn’t try hard, it doesn’t even try at all, it just does what its nature dictates: he runs, on the road. It’s so good at running on that road that it can just coast on that talent, when Wile E has to think outside the ACME box, Road Runner can just rely on its gifts. How is that fair?

I think that’s why my allegiance switched to poor Wile E. As a (nominal) adult, I have to work hard for the things I want; I have to put in effort with no guarantee of reward. Granted, I’m not going to crash at the bottom of a canyon with an anvil following a few seconds behind me, but failure is a possibility. I cannot be the Road Runner, to whom everything comes easy. Life is unfair, no matter how hard you try, you can’t always get what you want and some people are just naturally gifted. That’s the message of the Road Runner. When you think about it, it’s pretty bleak, as Weird Al said : “Right now I’d like to show you one of my favorite cartoons. It’s a sad, depressing story about a pathetic coyote who spends every waking moment of his life in the futile pursuit of a sadistic roadrunner who MOCKS him and LAUGHS at him as he’s repeatedly CRUSHED and MAIMED! Hope you ENJOY IT!!!”

Wile E

Wine is unfair too. Some vineyards are blessed with climate, soil, drainage and exposition, so much that whatever the winemaker does, he can do no wrong, or at least, his level of effort can stand to be minimal. Other plots need constant care, anything less than perfect word by the winemaker results in catastrophe (see: canyon, boulder, anvil). Once again, how is that fair? It’s nature and nurture all over again. Let’s take two wines of similar quality; they can hide completely different stories, from painstaking efforts to overcome bad conditions all the way to cruising easily on a blessed situation and of course, everything in between.

Sometimes I think about that when tasting wine, I wonder if what I’m drinking is a Road Runner wine or of a Wile E. Coyote wine. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, but I have a soft spot in my cold and calculating Burgundian heart for people who try too hard. Also, to this day, I still think that combining roller skates and a jet pack is a great idea.

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