Like many in my generation, I grew up watching Sesame Street. It was a different neighborhood then. No one but Big Bird could see Mr. Snuffleupagus. There were no ridiculous accusations that Bert and Ernie were gay. (And even if they were, that would not have stopped me from naming my miniature dachshunds after the pair because gay and straight are of no consequence to a kindergartener.)
And there was no furry red monster named Elmo.
Watching Sesame Street today puts me in unfamiliar territory. Some of the faces are the same, but the Street has a different feel to it now. Abby Cadabby and Elmo have moved in and started their own reality TV shows. I’d rather live next door to Oscar the Grouch or even the alien creatures who can only communicate in yips and uh huhs. Early Bird, on the other hand, just loves Elmo and Abby, but especially Elmo. He is the first character whose name she learned. And somehow, despite my objections, our house has been overtaken by “Eh-mo.” With all the books, coloring books, and our very own “Eh-mo” doll, it truly is his world.
You may ask why I don’t care for such a lovable little monster. He’s happy. Too happy. And I don’t trust people or monsters that are too happy. You can sing and dance all you want about it, but rain is just rain, and such antics make me question your sanity. (As does the need to ask a baby about anything.)
Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Elmo does not laugh, sing, or dance for my benefit. If Early Bird wants Elmo to be a part of her world, who am I to criticize? He’s just a harmless little monster.
Or is he?
Since moving in with us, Elmo has demonstrated a mischievous side to his personality. He disappears and turns up again in the oddest of places. It makes me wonder what he’s up to.
It started when Elmo just vanished. We couldn’t find him for about two weeks. Each night at bedtime, Early Bird would ask for him, but despite all our efforts, we could not find the little monster. Then, one night as Roostler was putting Early Bird to bed, he asked me where I had found Elmo.
“Well, he’s sitting on her bed.”
At that moment, we both seemed to be thinking back to the USPS commercial from a couple of years ago that featured a scary clown toy. He came into the office where I was working, gave me a knowing look, and said, “Yeah, that’s gotta go.”
Elmo has been allowed to stay, but I continue to suspect that he may be up to no good. One day as I was leaving the kitchen, I spotted him in the driver’s seat of a toy school bus. He seemed to be waving at me.
A few days later, I found him innocently occupying a baby’s stroller. Again, he taunted me with his wave.
Finally, last week, I found Elmo lying on top of a pile of toys that had been packed into a box. Was he on to my suspicions and planning his escape?
I’m not sure what Elmo is up to, but I’m thinking he’s got to go.