Although I didn’t grow up with Sesame Street, I’ve seen it enough in recent years to have a full appreciation of it. Elmo, Big Bird, Grover, Cookie Monster, Rosita, Zoe and more. So many great characters, all of them unique in their own way. One of those characters, however, troubles me. He troubles me because I believe he’s suffering. I believe he’s crying out for help. The character I’m speaking of: Bert.
To begin with, just look at him. He’s a wreck, an absolute fashion nightmare. Who picked out that striped shirt? And is that a turtleneck or an ascot underneath it? Then, there’s his hair. For the love of Jose Eber, someone give Bert a mirror. Clearly, he and boxing promoter Don King go to the same stylist. Either that, or he wakes up and just rolls with it the way it is. And I won’t even begin to discuss the eyebrow.
Perhaps one of his pals, maybe Grover, could contact Stacy and Clinton on TLC’s What Not to Wear and get him a fashion and hair makeover. Then again Bert stepping up to the 360-degree mirror might cause permanent psychological damage for him. Unless he’s already suffered irreparable damage at the hands of his so-called best friend on Sesame Street.
Apparently, I’m the only one on to the lovable, chummy and utterly duplicitous Ernie.
Yes, Bert is fashion-challenged, has a hairstyle from who-knows-where and laughs like a panicked sheep. So you’d think it would be enough for Ernie to take a step back, look objectively at his pal and simply say “maybe I should just leave well-enough alone.” But no, that wouldn’t be any fun for Emperor Ernie from The Dark Side.
Bert will be minding his own business trying to read a book. And Ernie? He jumps on his drums and begins wailing away like John Bonham from Led Zeppelin. Through it all, Bert, lacking sufficient communication skills to reel in the maniacal Ernie, gets more and more frustrated finally passing out or leaving the room in utter frustration.
Or what about when the two of them decide to read out loud together, alternating turns. Bert gets no more than several words out before Ernie the Rude cuts him off and begins reading away for a significantly longer period of time.
I’m here to tell you this is a serious situation.
Little-known fact: Bert’s been in therapy for years. Oh sure, you’re probably giggling at the thought of Bert doing a session in midtown Manhattan at $200-per-hour. Me, I applaud him. The little man with the big hair has sought help for what has been a very trying career.
He’s made his money, he’s got his fan club – albeit, not nearly as big as Ernie’s – and his social life hasn’t really suffered. Last time we spoke, he mentioned something about a trip to Ireland with a “friend” named Molly.
But I heard his pain. I’ve seen his pain. I’ve felt his pain.
Bert is a proud man, not one to overtly blame others for shortcomings in his life. I’m here to tell you, Ernie has practically ruined him. Ernie has been allowed to run all over Bert for years and no one seems to care one bit. Is there no one at PBS with a heart?
Quite frankly, I’m sick of it.
Maybe Bert simply needs to haul off and deck Ernie. One punch. Done. I know, I know, it’s a kids show. Maybe that wouldn’t exactly fit with the usual storylines. Then again, kids need to understand the world’s not always a nice place. Perhaps this could be a teaching opportunity. At worst, it would be a ratings boon.
Bert drops Ernie, story at 11. When’s the next sweeps week?
About the Author: Christopher Gabriel is the host of the cleverly named Christopher Gabriel Program on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. You can hear him weekdays from 9 to Noon. As a writer and humorist, his work has been been published online by the Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters and publications within the Sun-Times News Group.