"Heather, do you want to be a big sister to a little brother or a little sister?"
"Neither. I want a Gonzo!!!"
Needless to say, the three and a half year old version of me wasn't exactly bursting at the seams with the thoughts of a baby coming into her life-- especially if the crying that was sure to accompany said baby was going to interrupt her Dukes of Hazzard or Muppet Show watching. That would surely cross the line!
When Ted, the neighbor, asked me if I wanted to be a big sister to a baby boy or baby girl, I wasn't lying. I didn't want either of them; both options sounded less than stellar. I truly, with everything in my being, wanted a Gonzo. I mean, who wouldn't, right? I wouldn't trade my eventual sister in for the world, but let's face it, a Gonzo would have been a super sweet runner up! The daredevil escapades that Gonzo The Great and Her Highness Heather could have attempted are, I mean...were, limitless! It's no wonder that I made my sister wear the t-shirt that Ted and his wife bought for YEARS. (That's the actual shirt today. Slightly stained, but I want to see my niece in it just ONCE.)
My love of the Muppets, as I'm sure this is true with most of us who were born in the 70's, was by no mistake. PBS had a huge surge and was on the fore front of every culturally and socially revolutionary parent during that time. Many of our first words were the names of a Sesame Street character. The muppets on Sesame Street taught us our fundamentals--counting, positive social behaviors, how to make friends, emotional appropriateness, SPANISH, how to care for our environment and our neighbors, reading, everything! So when The Muppet Show first aired it was a natural progression to also become one of the viewing audience members. And we did. Every week, the televisions were turned on to see if the gang and some LUCKY celebrity could pull off the variety show!
The great part about The Muppet Show is that it wasn't just children that were part of the viewing audience. People of all ages identified and felt comforted by those zany characters and the celebrities that made weekly appearances. I can't remember ever watching the show without BOTH of my parents watching and laughing along with me. For 30 minutes, one day a week, my family shared a common experience. We were lucky! It's no wonder that I waited to see the 2011 Muppet Movie until my mom and I were in the same city. Might I mention, that it felt like a homecoming and we both cried. Mahna mahna!
Jim Henson's Muppets are something that my generation carries with us. They don't just provide us with nostalgic memories of our childhood, but are also part of the woven fabric that ties us together. The Muppets are part of our cultural language. They are our teachers. They are our comfort. They are our lessons. We've watched every spin off show and danced with David Bowie to "Dance Magic Dance." We've pretended to sing Christmas carols with John Denver. We've visited the Borkifier site as adults just to play. "We-a'fe-a fisited zee-a Borkiffier site-a is idoolts joost to pley. Bork Bork Bork!" We've introduced our children to Kermit and the gang. We cried along with his characters the day that Jim Henson died. We stood in line in our 30s, 40s, and 50s this past November and December to be reunited with our friends on the big screen.
The Muppets have meant a lot to many of us over the years. I'd put money on the fact that they will continue to do just that in the future. So, can you REALLY blame me for maybe STILL wanting a Gonzo of my own?