You know those days when you wake up, and the sun is shining, and it’s November, and it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold, and you decide to check your e-mail on your phone from the comfort of your warm bed – and there’s a turd of an e-mail sitting in your inbox. And that e-mail says, in coded language, “I just woke up, being the sour person I am everyday, and decided to take it out on you.” And then, another person responds to that e-mail and says, in coded language, “Yeah, and I’m going to back them up because I’m also quite the pill.” And then that once promising day turns into a rage/depression combo day. That was yesterday.
The day before yesterday, Tom and I went to see The Muppet Movie (not the new one, the first one in 1979) at a movie theater on the big screen. It was so great – I’ve seen the movie several times, but was too young to see it in the theater when it came out. As with many people from my generation, The Muppets are very important to me, and so was Jim Henson.
The Muppets are amazing. They are genuine. They are quirky and unique. The weird ones embrace their weirdness, and the less weird ones appreciate the weird ones with affection and true friendship. They apologize to each other. They are not petty and vindictive – their flaws are human and forgivable. But, it isn’t all about “lessons” – there are jokes, they don’t take everything overly seriously, and other than the fabulous Miss Piggy, it’s never “all about them.” Then, like a cherry on top, they actually have two characters whose sole existence is to ridicule them (Statler and Waldorf). To someone who abhors over-sentimentality, this combination is absolutely perfect.
The Muppet Movie can have one of the sincerest songs ever written, “The Rainbow Connection,” which, if sung by a human, would be sappy and hippie dippy, but when sung by a frog in a swamp with the voice of Jim Henson, makes me want to cry just thinking about it…
And, it can have Steve Martin waiting on a frog an a pig on a date.
Basically, the best of both worlds.
I remember where I was when I found out Jim Henson died. I was in a mini van with my family in Ahoskie, N.C. – where my dad was from, visiting my grandma. Jim Henson had actually been in Ahoskie – a very, very small, obscure town – about a week before, visiting his father and step mother. When you find out that Jim Henson was in the tiny town your dad grew up, visiting his own dad, the world seems a little smaller, and the world of The Muppets a little more possible, even with the loss of their creator.
What The Muppets do so well, and what I need to do better, is they don’t deny that there’s crap in the world, or even that an e-mail can make a day go off its rails. They live in a world of true setbacks, and even some genuine assholes (the villain doesn’t come around to their point of view), but they also don’t let those things dictate the kind of day they’re going to have (but they let themselves feel bummed, too), because ultimately they are the ones who control whether to make the best of something or let it get them down. And, then, just before everything gets too sunshines and friendship, you hear:
Statler: Hey look, Waldorf, it’s a frog and a pig.
Waldorf: Yeah, looks like they’re in love.
Waldorf: Kind of makes you sick, doesn’t it?
In conclusion, I love you, Muppets. And I hope to God your new movie is good and does you justice.