October 9th, 2009
I went out with a guy a few times in college and our “relationship” was based entirely on the Muppets. We never kissed. On our first date, we went to the theater to see “Muppets from Space” and I would imagine puppet critics wouldn’t have given it two felt thumbs up(probably because it was the first film since the death of Muppets creator Jim Henson.) Follow up dates with this guy(who was currently reading something like “ The Rush Limbaugh Story: Talent on Loan from God”) included renting “ The Muppet Movie” and the “Muppets Take Manhattan”. Although my date did nothing for me (and presumably grew up to be a Young Republican virgin), it became very clear to me that guys may come and go, but Muppets are forever. Partly because they age so well.
On a very basic level, let me share with you why I can’t seem to escape Muppet-centric themes in my own life.
1)The word "Muppet" was said by Henson to have been created by combining the words "marionette" and "puppet”. Now this is very endearing to me because my nickname “Jax” was also derived from the combining of two words. I was almost hit by a taxi in Athens, Georgia. In the spirit of word breeding, my friends came up with: Jacqueline + Taxi = Jaxi. New Yorkers have shortened it to Jax because the “I” makes it too much of a mouthful. It’s just how they roll.
2)It has been brought to my attention that straight haired Jax has the “gift” of striking an uncanny resemblance to Janice, the “fer sure” free spirited lead guitar player. Generally the comparison is clear if I have partaken in some herbal inhaling and my eyes disappear. Seriously, you could blindfold me with floss.
3) Cookie Monster likes cookies. You know who else likes cookies? Me
If you were craving more Muppet action in your adult life..I’m sorry to say that the brilliantly hilarious Broadway show “Avenue Q” just closed. It definitely fell into the “Damn I wish I wrote that” category. For those of us who grew up with the Muppets, it was pure bliss. The show was clearly inspired by “Sesame Street.” Most of the characters were puppets operated by onstage actors and the set depicted several Brooklyn-esque tenements on a rundown street. With songs called “Everyone's A Little Bit Racist” and “The Internet is for Porn”, this production was suited for adults as the themes tapped into grown up problems. Several characters were recognizably parodies of classic Sesame Street characters. My favorite were Rod (blatantly battling with his sexuality) and Nicky, versions of Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie. The characters often used profanity in their dialogue(often sung) and there is a steamy over the top risqué Muppet sex scene that makes “9 ½ Weeks” seem suitable for nuns who watch ABC Family Channel programming about squirrels.
“Avenue Q” has closed its curtains but grownups might have another option to satisfy their Muppet fix these days. My brother Scott was telling me about taking his kids to “Sesame Street Live”. This popular traveling show (which I assume is composed of musical theater graduates who get to dress up as giant Muppets..mascots tend to scare me..but I’ll let this one slide) is a favorite with the kids. Why not adults? I'd dig songs called “Me Lost Me Cookie At the Disco” and “I Love Trash!” From what I understand, Elmo’s debut mirrors the reactions to the hyperventilating swooning teenage girls seeing the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan show” in 1964. Three year olds are screaming/crying, ”ELMO! ELMO! OH MY GOD ELMO. I LOOOOOVVVEEEE YOU! AHHHHHH! ELMO!” Then they pass out. According to my brother, all the characters are allowed into the audience to do some interactive break the 4th wall work. But NOT Elmo. Picking up on my bewilderment, Scott explained “well, Jax, his handlers won’t let him.” I spit out my coffee. Brother has wit.