I don’t know the difference between “Sesame Street” characters and “The Muppets.”
The subject, which comes up periodically, has resurfaced thanks to the latest “Muppets” movie. Well, that and a photo a co-worker shared of his newborn. In the photo, stuffed beings I vaguely recognized from the toy aisle and which my co-worker identified by names I did not recognize, surround the infant. The proud papa seemed pleased, not just of his cute son, but by the stuffed beings that meant nothing to me, so I shared the aforementioned truth with him.
By way of an explanation, he mumbled something about one entity being owned by Disney, and I thought, “He doesn’t understand.”
Here’s the simple truth: I’m unable to identify more than a handful of “Sesame Street” and “The Muppets” characters, and I don’t know who lives on Sesame Street with that big yellow bird and who hangs out with the pig and the frog.
See, I do recognize some characters including Elmo. Of course, prior to the Elmo craze that reduced much of the nation to tears, I thought Elmo was part of the pig-frog entourage.
Otherwise, I’m clueless. When Jon Stewart trots out a puppet to poke fun at a political figure or references a character who sends back soup, I think, “This would probably be funnier if I understood the character’s motivation.”
When I heard other “Days of Our Lives” fans jokingly compare E.J. DiMera’s sad face to Beaker’s, I thought, “Who the hell is Beaker?” (A quick Internet search proved the fans correct. When he frowns, E.J. resembles this Beaker guy.)
You might wonder how and why someone steeped in popular culture hasn’t familiarized herself with such characters. How did I spend my childhood, you ask? Was I raised in a cave or, worse, in a home with no TV?
No. In fact, during my childhood I watched as much TV as possible. But not much kid TV. Except for “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones,” my parents allowed me to watch big people TV. No worries. Big people TV wasn’t as dangerous then as it is today. We had five channels, so there was no chance I’d be exposed to a Kardashian or visit the “Jersey Shore.”
Still, when offered fare such as soap operas, miniseries and talk shows, puppets — and cartoons — didn’t stand a chance.
Of course, my feelings for cartoons remain separate from my feelings for “The Muppets” and “Sesame Street.” Except for The Peanuts, I’m no fan of cartoons geared toward kids. The way I saw it as a child and continue to see it as an adult, that idiot coyote should wise up and realize he’ll never catch that smart-assed Road Runner, Elmer Fudd should buy a scope and eat that smart-assed Bugs Bunny for dinner, and Rudolph should blow his nose.
Do I feel the same way about that big yellow bird who lives on Sesame Street and the pig who hangs around with the frog? No. I don’t know them well enough to form an opinion. I’ve never watched a “Sesame Street” episode, but I respect the series for educating generations of kids. I fell asleep during the one Muppets movie my Muppets-loving friends talked me into watching. Yes, I have oodles of Muppets-loving friends who reassess our friendship every time this subject resurfaces. They can’t understand how I remain stone-faced when the pig, the frog and their entourage appear onscreen.
Here’s the simple truth: I’ve never been interested in these characters.
But, for some reason, I’ve always been intrigued by the Jim Jones cult.