It was Elmo that finally did me in. Yes, Elmo, as in Tickle Me. But maybe that is not fair. While he was the catalyst, it was really his helpful, female puppet friend Betty Lou that was the root of my actual demise.
It didn’t help that I came late to the magic and wonders of Sesame Street. Growing up in the early seventies, public television was a somewhat radical concept and the new children’s programming seemed to threaten subversive and counter-culture undertones in my mom’s mind. The Brady Bunch and The Flintstones were much healthier- nice, safe family values.
As I grew out of my toddler years her television concerns continued. The Partridge Family was NOT ok. The fact that Mrs. Partridge was traveling around the country in a bus and allowing her children to perform rock concerts in front of out of control teens was EXACTLY what was wrong with the country. At least that’s what my mom always said.
By the time she became a grandmother she relented somewhat and relaxed her television rules. I would watch Sesame Street with my four year old nephew and we enjoyed it immensely. I remember rolling around on the floor laughing and crying after a recent breakup with some guy or another while Patti Labelle sang “How I Miss my X” to a very sad looking X. I thought the scene was adorable and was speaking directly to my heartbreaking soul.
“Drew-don’t you get it? Her ex is the letter X! Isn’t that a riot? And look, X misses her too. They’ll get back together- I just know they will.”
My nephew looked at me as though I was nuts and ran off to play with his toy fire engine.
Anyway, back to modern day. I was in the midst of a horrible month filled with paperwork, appointments, highs, lows, good news, bad news, good advice, bad advice and whatever else one can throw into a month. After a frustrating breakdown during appointment number six, it was recommended that I see a therapist.
Thus it was that I was at appointment number seven in the lobby of the one therapist that took my insurance and answered the phone when I called. Much to her dismay as it was her lunch hour, I was an hour and ten minutes early. No, I hadn’t bothered to check what time I was due there. My MS brain knew the time.
While she handed me more paperwork to fill out I asked about her practice.
“No,” she told me, “I don’t exclusively treat children.” It was hard to believe based on the emotion charts, animal posters, blocks, and teddy bears that sat in her waiting room.
I started the paperwork while I listened to her pack up the hundreds of Legos I noticed on the floor of her office when she opened the door to greet me. My mind continued to swirl with all that had piled up that month and of all the things I had to do. But it was my fault I was early (apparently my MS brain knew something that her planner and my calendar did not). And so, with this round of paperwork done, I grabbed the thing closest to me to read.
It was a book from a Sesame Street series called Sesame Street Library. In it, loveable Elmo ventures into the library looking for a Little Black Puppy. As he searches he gets distracted from his important task by story hour. I do that all the time. Could Elmo have MS too?
He meets his buddy Betty Lou and, when asked, remembers his mission. Betty Lou offers to help. She givse him all library info he could possibly need and then produces a book called, you guessed it, Little Black Puppy. Poor Elmo has been misunderstood. I can relate to that too. More evidence our furry red friend might be afflicted with a myelin damaging illness.
He explains his plight again. He is looking for an actual puppy that is missing and happens to be black and little. Again, the kind Betty Lou wants to help. Back to the card catalog they go and then to the stacks where she produces a book called “How to be a Detective.”
“There Elmo, you can read this book and then you will know how to find your puppy.”
It doesn’t end there. Betty Lou is a dear friend after all and really, really wants to help so she proceeds to find several other detective books to help Elmo in his search. Elmo excitedly thanks her. That’s when I lost it. In the lobby of therapist’s office who doesn’t just work with kids even though the only things in the lobby are kids stuff, I proceed to yell at Betty Lou.
“Betty Lou that is NOT helpful!!!!! What kind of friend are you? I know you mean well but if you really want to help, start looking for the damn dog! How long do you think it will take Elmo to read all those books before the search begins? After reading the books he will have get the detective kit and then start questioning people and calling insurance companies and hitting search engines and all kinds of crap that take time he doesn’t have. Can’t you just help look in corners and yell ‘here Fido’ or something? How bout you read the damn books and then get back to him?”
Poor Betty Lou. Perhaps she didn’t deserve my wrath but she was not alone. Elmo was next on my “need a good talking too” list.
“Elmo, don’t be a putz! Tell Betty Lou what she can do with her freaking books and where to go. Don’t stand there with that stupid smile expressing all kinds of false gratitude. Throw the books at her and start looking for the dog.”
I suppose the moral of the story was that you can find anything in a library. But I have yet to find a dog there and in my current state, and not being a kid, the message was lost on me.
Perhaps my outburst caused the therapist concern. She called me in and handed me ten more pages of paperwork to take home and fill out at my leisure. She asked me what I was looking for, therapeutically speaking. Then she told me where I could research the answers to what I was looking for. She recommended some books. I smiled and expressed all kinds of false gratitude, just like Elmo.
I am even more convinced than ever that MS has got him too.