Beth Kondrick – A couple of years ago a friend of mine came over to my house for the first time and as I was giving him the tour which included such highlights as my photo puppet Kermit the Frog and my extensive Muppet DVD collection, he finally said, “Okay now explain something to me – what is up you and the Muppets?” He wanted to know “why” I have such a love and obsession with them and I thought about it for a few minutes and finally said, “It’s really tough to put it into words.”
It is extremely difficult to define my Muppet fandom and how it even began. Like most fans, my earliest exposure and memories I have are of watching Sesame Street as a young child and giggling hysterically at Ernie and Bert, specifically the sketch “Here Fishy Fishy.” I had numerous Sesame Street toys and books. I would watch Sesame Street on PBS just about twice a day in those formative years. I also had Christmas Eve on Sesame Street on a videotape and it was in heavy rotation even in the summertime.
Later on I had two of the Muppet movies The Muppets Take Manhattan and The Great Muppet Caper and would watch them constantly. So many of the jokes went completely over my head, but I still loved every minute and could recite every single line right along with them. “What color are their hands now?” and “You hear me New York? I’m staying here, the Frog is STAYING!” were some of my favorites, along with Animal saying “Bye bye” at the end of the credits of The Muppets Take Manhattan – it became a family joke in my house in fact.
Eventually The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock made it into my viewing as well and, again, I loved every minute of these shows. Somehow I just connected with these special creatures. They made me happy, they spoke to me, and they were my friends.
In middle school one of my close friends and I used to pass a notebook back and forth and eventually decided we needed code names as we talked about boys we liked and such and didn’t want to give away our identities if it fell into the wrong hands. I was Cookie Monster, she was Elmo. And every single crush we had was assigned a Muppet nickname. My eventual husband was referred to as “Gonzo” I think!
Moving into adulthood, I found myself still wanting to watch Muppet movies often, to collect some of my favorite characters memorabilia, to try and catch an episode of Sesame Street on a day off or a sick day. I never felt like I was “outgrowing” them at all. In fact, it seemed as I got older, my love for them continued to grow. My love/obsession increased even more when I discovered a fan community in 2005 called Muppet Central. I started following along and posting on the forum there and made tons of friends from all across the country and even out of the US in places like England and Australia. I couldn’t believe there were other crazies out there who loved something as much as I did. To this day I have several very good friends I have never met in person, but am deeply connected to because of a shared love of the Muppets. (Note from Ryan: Hey, I think she’s talking about me!)
No matter how bad of a day I’m having, I can always count on the Muppets to cheer me up. I specifically remember the day I moved out of my parents house and into the house I would be living in with my then future husband, I was excited to be on my own, but kind of sad to be leaving childhood behind. I popped in The Muppet Movie that very first night and it helped somehow. It made the feeling of growing up less scary.
I have decorated my house with various Muppet memorabilia. My first anniversary present from my husband was the Master Photo Puppet Kermit the Frog. It is proudly on display in my living room and I have fun dressing him up for each season – especially Christmas, he gets a hat, scarf and mittens!
The latest addition to my Muppet collection is a very unique piece of art by Dave Hulteen, Jr. depicting the Muppets at a very large dinner party. It is extremely long – about six feet or so, but it’s also short. I recently finished painting my living room and wanted to have this print hung after it has sat in the tube it was sent to me in for the last two years. It cost me a pretty penny to have it framed – but it was worth every cent. I have had so many compliments on it and it looks fantastic on my wall.
Now I’m on the lookout for a Rowlf the Dog stuffed animal or puppet – he is one of my all time favorites and so I am making it my goal to find one to add to my collection!
The Muppets are just a part of me and part of who I am. There’s a pop song out called “Everything’s Better With Muppets” and I feel that should be my theme song. Because it is true!
So, when my friend says “Why Muppets?” I now say, “Why NOT Muppets?” Where else can you find humor, heart, and pure joy? I wouldn’t trade my Muppet fandom for anything in the entire world!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier