In keeping with our Social Media Hashtag week, we’re celebrating #ThrowbackThursday and the 25th birthday of Salute Your Shorts by rewatching the favorite episode of my childhood, Zeke The Plumber (don’t worry, this isn’t one of our real theme weeks …. but the one we have on deck next week is gonna be non-stop, if you know what I mean, and I think you do). We only had five days during Big Orange Couch Week, and we focused on Are You Afraid Of The Dark, Clarissa Explains It All, The Secret World of Alex Mack, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, and All That. But if you were a 90s Kid (TM), you’ll also hold Camp Anawana in your hearts. And when you think about it, it makes you wanna fart. Which was a great joke when you were 6.
You can watch the episode here! Or, preferably, somewhere legal instead. Ready? Go!
- The episode opens with a child holding a 90s camcorder and narrating a walk through the woods for his parents. Remember camcorders? And how if you didn’t have a heavy, expensive piece of equipment and the ability to convert those little cassettes to videotape, your memories just had to live in your brain?
- Sometimes, we look back on terrible haircuts of the past and think “well, it was fashionable then. Times change and someday we’ll all think we look dumb now, too.” This isn’t one of those times. I knew Budnick’s red mullet was bad when I was in kindergarten, and I know it now. Looking back, it actually might be the first time in my whole life I identified that somebody had bad hair.
- It’s almost on the fence between ‘mullet’ and ‘too much of your hair is bangs.’ MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MIND BUDNICK.
- I, um… I don’t remember if I noticed that Ug Lee’s name was “ugly” as a kid. I do remember assuming that he was Budnick’s dad or uncle, because wherever two or more redheads are gathered, I will assume that they’re related. (My childhood BFF and I were both tiny freckly gingers; we loved that people thought we were sisters.)
- Let’s talk about the theme song. First of all, why do people/Ug put zinc oxide just on their noses? I’ve never had a sunburn that encapsulated just my nose but surely there’s a reason. Also, this may be the genesis of me thinking it was super dorky that I had to wear sunscreen all the time. Anyway, all of the characters are set up in the opening credits. ZZ is a goody-goody who loves nature (she’s Dawn from the Baby-Sitters Club, mas o menos), Ug doesn’t know what’s going on around him, Donkey Lips is a Bobby Moynihan character, Budnick is a shit-stirrer with silly hair, Telly likes sports, Dina is the pretty popular girl, and Sponge is small. There’s a blonde boy I don’t remember well (Michael) who was just … regular … I think? Like if Salute Your Shorts were a movie, he would have been played by one of the Corys.
- The kids are telling ghost stories and I have questions. Are they supervised? And where did they get all those candles? And matches? Does anyone else think this looks like a huge fire haz? I never went to camp; this all may be very normal.
- The gist is: Zeke the Plumber was a camp plumber who had no nose. He hit a gas pipe, couldn’t smell the gas and lit a match (I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS, like why would he light a match in the first place, and why are there so many damn matches at this camp, and surely he knew he punctured a pipe, ok?). So Zeke dies and only his plunger was left behind, which I don’t think he needs in a hole with a match, but I’m not a plumber so what do I know.
- Wow all of these kids are so young! I thought Dina and Z.Z. were so cool and sophisticated and they looked like literal babies:
- Zeke the Plumber appears in the boys bunk, spending his afterlife plunging children’s toilets, which seems like an odd choice but you do you, Zeke. More specifically, he is plunging the OPEN AIR TOILET THAT JUST HANGS OUT IN THE BUNK ALL THE TIME. Was this there before? And is this camp or prison?!
- On a related note, I have a weird ghost toilet in my basement and the floor drain near it started spewing water last week …. and all I could think was “in what universe would someone need a haunted toilet in their basement anyway?” I’ll tell you what: a universe in which you’re keeping someone in your basement. That’s all.
- Nevermind. Zeke was a dream. He “found” Michael’s stuffed hippo in the toilet and plunges his brain.
- How expensive do we think this camp is?
- Now, via dream, Zeke tells Telly he can turn her into a professional ball player, plunges her brain, and sends her to a ball instead. But all the kids dream Zeke the same so he’s obviously real, right?
- Sponge has an enormous laptop, because this was still that era where being really into owning a computer meant you were a nerd on TV. For a moment I think he’s about to look up Zeke the Plumber, but then I remember that we were years away from it being normal to have internet access, and even more years away from wifi. Maybe that nerd-o was playing Oregon Trail or Carmen Sandiego.
- Now Budnick is going to spend the night in the woods at the spot where Zeke died. Hold on, I have questions again. How do they know, and why was he digging a hole in the middle of the woods, and why is there a gas pipe in the middle of the woods?
- The kids all set out to punk Budnick to get him back for scaring them with the Zeke the Plumber story.
- The punkers become the punk-ees, as Budnick replaces himself with a dummy with a melon-head and sets off soda cans.
- Ug impersonates Zeke and Budnick catches him in a rope trap, and I know I’m getting old because all of this seems like a lot of damn work just to prove a point.
- Ug looks exactly like all the kids imagined Zeke The Plumber, which in my estimation means that he’s a real ghost after all.
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