I’m a Forty Year Old Groucheteer!

SesamecastBy Krans Sanis

Seriously, though…

As I contemplate on the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, I can do nothing but shake my head at the simple fact that this show is only 110 days younger than me. A fact in retrospect, I find comically…; well annoying.

I’m not really perplexed as to the concept of the anniversary per say, but the significance of the intervening decades is quite a ride. We’ve come a long way, boundaries have been pushed and not only have the fun, but the facts of life have been dealt with in a manner of education and empathy.

Now a bit off point, for a moment that is; I would also point out that Sesame Street wasn’t the only show to deal with these issues. I remember when Mr. Rodgers started his show once with the title song and at the end when he went to feed the fish he found one had died. It was, profound, amazing when this former pre-school teacher winged an entire show and talked about death and how it was ok to talk about it.

That was perhaps, in the first time in the modern era that death was openly talked about in an educational way to explain and soothe young, delicate minds. It however would not be the last. I remember when Big Bird talked about the death of Mr. Hooper.

I was very young, and there was visibly something very wrong with the show. An adult would have understood the situation and the incident without question. It wasn’t as if the cast hadn’t talked openly on the show about Mr. Hooper’s terminal illness. But still my young brain didn’t understand the concept of death or the finality of it. Thank you Big Bird for telling me the truth in a way that I could understand and accept, and why it was that Mr. Hooper wasn’t coming back. I then understood where my Grandpa went.

Over time new puppets were introduced, and most came to the table with important ways to explain, sometimes very serious, issues of the day. Take for instance Kami, the HIV positive monster. And some have been very annoying; doo doo da doo, doo doo da dada do, Elmo’s World. But still all have been pioneers in their puppet right.

There are so many characters but I remember the original the best. Ala peanut butter sandwiches, “C” is for cookies, vague; but recognizable references to animosity poorly referenced because most can recall the speakers name. Sometimes at a friend’s house, when their phone rings, I get looks questioning my sanity when I begin to count; one ringy dingy, two, two ringy dingy. I can’t help myself, and secretly wish it would thunder and lightning whilst I reveled in the confirming number in Transylvanian hysteria.

There is so much more. I learned how to be self confident and believe in myself, Big Bird taught me that. Mr. Snuffleupagus was more than Bird’s imaginary friend, everybody wouldn’t accept Snuffy’s existence. We all saw that Bird wasn’t going mental, but was rather a victim of perpetual bad timing.

This happened for years and finally in Hawaii, while searching for Mount Snuffleupagus, was Snuffy finally seen by all. And mind you they were all chasing Bird to convince him that Snuffleupagus didn’t exist. I learned what redemption was, how sticking to ones beliefs, no matter what other people say; how your knowledge of what of what you know to be true should not be taken away from you. In later years it was the dismay of others when I stood my ground. Thanks again Bird.

Who hasn’t taken the Birdkateer oath? I know that I am a grouchkateer as well. I know Super Grover’s secret identity; I’ll tell you if you don’t know, just don’t tell anyone else, it’s a secret after all. Up until now I have been modest, but surely you recognize my singing talents; I sang duet with Prairie Dawn at each and every opening of This little Theatre. I even speak Narf

I learned about disability, Linda taught me the world of a deaf individual. I learned a lot about sign language from her. Children in a wheel chair, others with Muscular Dystrophy, even young cancer survivors. I learned how others with conditions I sometimes didn’t understand, should be treated with dignity, but more importantly with equality. There were no boundaries, we learned to love each other through truth and understanding.

The Honkers, Pigs in Space, Gladys the cow, Muppet Polly Darton, Biff and Sully, the Typewriter Guy others ab infinium. Friends each and all.

Maria married Louise, had their child Gabby. Susan Bob, Alan and Miles. I remember them all. A new generation also has a first love in Gina.

I can go on and on, but do you know what I think is needed to finish this? No? I think I need to hear what you say as well. If you’re shy we can play this game I know. It’s called ‘One of these things is not like the others”, it’s a great way to get to know each other.

3 Comments on “I’m a Forty Year Old Groucheteer!”

  1. I became a bit nauseated by the politically correct spectrum, ala peanut brains who objected to Oscar’s news media puns and are drumming up the artificial remnants of gay Bert and Ernie speculations. A pox on the whiner’s club who want to take all the fun out of Sesame Street. Kids want real humor, not just what the adults say is acceptable. This was a wonderful path down memory lane, Krans; one Sesame Street deserves.

  2. I can remember when Telly Monster came on. I was still a child, just on the cusp of leaving Sesame Street, but even I thought hey why are we sitting in front of a t.v. show that tells us t.v shows are bad? I just remember that moment of the beginning of the P.C. fakery, that ruined my ideals about the safe spots like Sesame street.
    Anyway, good article. This was a good place to be, it is not as comfortable anymore, especially with the cookies gone.

  3. The magic of Sesame Street back in the day was that its message was not generationally tied – both a child and adult could laugh at the material for entirely different reasons but together. I can’t help but wonder if half the reason the earlier seasons of Sesame Street were and still are so appealing is Jim Henson and Frank Oz. The heirs of the Henson empire carry on the best they can but there is an intangible element that no longer emanates from the characters as they once did. Guy Smiley, the poor man that always got stuck with Grover as his waiter, the two headed alien that attempted to communicate with a telephone – “Bbbbbbring”…”Brrrrinnng” or Kermit the Frog as the investigative reporter, those stick in my head. The other piece that I find missing now is the cohesive nature of the ‘real’ cast and the muppet characters – today they seem more as asides rather than pivotal such as back in the day of Mr. Hooper, Gordon and Susan, David and Maria and Luis. The learning and lessons they imparted were almost incidental, today its like educators think the only way to learn is to drive the point like a spike into the four by four…

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