Stripping Away My Childhood, One Icon At A Time

When I was younger, I was an only child living out of town. I am still an only child in the technical definition, although I am no longer a child or an only or out of town. I am now a married adult living in the suburban-sprawl of a few hundred thousand people and in a metro-area of a couple million. Though my living situation has change (see: I grew up), I still hear or see things from time to time that flash me back to when I was young. Living out of town required a little planning on the part of my parents and friend’s families. I couldn’t walk down the street to go play with the neighbor kids. I couldn’t bike to the town pool – one of the roads into town was the main highway and a little busier than my parents cared to have me on on a regular basis. As such, I spent some time entertaining myself. Some of this time involved TV.

Gasp and horror and oh-the-travesty, who would allow their child to watch TV have you seen what’s on that corrupting mind-to-sludge box now days?!?!

Relax.

We had four TV channels. And an antenna on top of the roof. One of the channels really didn’t come in all that well (which really wouldn’t matter until I became old enough to want to watch Monday Night Football on a regular basis, because staying up late to watch football was cool.) So we had three channels. Channel 5 and 7 were NBC, 12 and 13 were CBS, 14 was ABC and a little sporadic depending on the time of year and angle of the sun, and 3 and 6 were PBS.

I liked PBS. I loved PBS. My parents were fine with PBS except around pledge time, because, while they were fine donating a little money to something I utilized quite extensively, I was probably a little obsessive about getting the cool gifts that come with just a half-your-home-value donation. Those people at PBS knew what they were doing after all.

I had my favorite shows throughout the years: 3-2-1 Contact, Reading Rainbow (starring LaVar Burrton, the blind guy from Star Trek, but you didn’t have to take his word for it), that one show with the really big computer that would make a cup of coffee and slide it out of the wall. Above all, my favorite show was Sesame Street.

One hour of uninterrupted pure entertainment. With puppets! Some of who had a disturbing aversion to the use of pronouns in reference to themselves. (Side note: What professional athlete was the first to hear Elmo speak and think that it was a good idea to refer himself in the third person. Little-Red-Puppet-Monster: Cute. Overpaid-Egotistical-Narcissistic-Pro-Athlete: Sad.) They were all my friends. Telly, Big Bird, Snuffy, Oscar, Elmo, Grover, Count von Count, Bert and Ernie, the Yip-Yip Monsters and the occasional Kermit T. Frog guest spot. And who could forget Cookie Monster? (A sign that maybe they were a little too good of friends, I knew all of them off the top of my head.)

I think we all can relate just a little to Cookie Monster. He’s the one who doesn’t care how he appears to others – he really loves cookies. He is spellbound by cookies. He dreams sweet monster dreams of sugar cookies fairies during Christmas. He may be slightly pudgy and lumpy, but who cares. Cookies are worth it! And if we all used as many calories as him obsessing over cookies, we could probably afford to eat a few as well. (If you don’t care for cookies, insert a food or object of your choice and view this paragraph as a big cool metaphor for life. If you like cookies, close your eyes and think of a fresh batch of your favorite kind. Mmmmm. That smile you just had was the Cookie Monster inside you going bonkers.)

On Monday, Rhiannon and I heard on the radio that Cookie Monster is being made a little more politically correct. Today’s society doesn’t see the exuberance as a good thing. Rather, we see the statistics of a childhood obesity epidemic and think that maybe a monster that loves cookies isn’t such a good thing.

Last time I checked, Cookie Monster didn’t feed any actual children any actual cookies. (Don’t tell anyone, but if you watch carefully, he doesn’t even eat the cookie.) I don’t think a puppet monster has the final say on what a child eats. That should come from the parents or adults in the kid’s life.

But this doesn’t seem to matter. Cookie Monster will now present cookies with a little different spin than unabashed worship. He will present cookies as a “Sometimes Food”. I didn’t think that anyone really considered cookies to be the sole course of lunch, but just in case the distinction wasn’t clear, help is on the way. On the Sesame Street website, there is a game of Toss a Salad with Cookie Monster.

I remember a time in my life when my mom said to me that I would outgrow Sesame Street. I looked right back at her and said with complete honesty that it would never happen. Sesame Street may not be a large a part of my life as it once was, but I still think it is wonderful. There are new characters and more computer animation than when I watched it. Such are the times, and while I may be nostalgic for the good ol’ days, I accept that things have to adapt and change to stay current.

But don’t mess with Cookie Monster. C is for cookie, always and forever. And that’s good enough for me.