Michela Christine – Hi. My name is Mik, short for Mikee, which is short for Michela Christine. I’m a relatively young Muppet fan (I won’t say how, but I’m somewhere in my teens) who basically grew up with very little Muppet influence.
Growing up was always hard. I was the shortest kid in class, the one with the embarrassing missing front teeth, and the weird kid. Most of my time was spent in my imagination or drawing. When I was a little one, the only real Muppet influence I remember having was Elmo. Let me tell you, I love me some Elmo. He was always my favorite and always made me smile. I had Elmopalooza on VHS when I was five and I would watch it ALL the time. But that particular special introduced me to someone I never thought I would ever see again growing up: Kermit the Frog. I remember being somehow filled with joy the first time I saw him, and knew all the words to “Caribbean Amphibian.”
This invoked my curiosity, which led me to watch Muppets From Space. I loved it a lot, until my older sister told me Gonzo was an alien, which scared the bejeebs out of me (my childhood fear was E.T.). For a while, I distanced myself from all things Muppety. She would always taunt me about my fear and I hated it. But it wasn’t until I had a dream about Gonzo that made everything okay. I dreamt that he came to my house and we played for hours and hours, until nightfall. He had to leave, but thanked me for all the fun. It was definitely one of the best dreams I ever had and made me love Gonzo so much, but no more than Kermit. Kermit was the reason I could never say the word “permanent.” I would always say “kermanent,” until told otherwise. He was always at the back of my mind, no matter what.
Things got even more difficult as I went into middle school. My mind was a pit of rage and I would never let anyone in, including the Muppets, whom I forgot all about for many years. I’d spend my time writing poetry and crying in the bathroom because all the other kids made fun of me. They tormented me nonstop. So I usually just hung out with friends who had terrible influences on me and cut myself off from the rest of the world. One night, over Christmas break, my life changed for quite a while.
I was extremely bored, VERY bored, so I got on my favorite website: deviantART. After browsing for a bit, I saw a commercial for a Sesame Street toy on the TV, so I typed in Sesame Street. The first thing I remember clicking was a very good drawing of Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Telly, Bert, and most importantly to me, Kermit. In the description, there was a link to Muppet Wiki. I thought, ”Eh, what the heck.” I clicked it, and it lead me to an article about Kermit’s days on Sesame Street, and another about the whole ”Veggie Monster” fiasco with Cookie Monster. Memories came flooding back like a warm torrent in my soul and I could feel myself getting happier. My life changed that night; I was no longer the weird kid who never washed her hair. I was for the first time in years, happy.
From that point on I got my hands on anything Muppet-related I could find; whether it be watching Sesame Street at five in the morning or watching Family Guy just to catch a Muppet reference. My mother, thrilled with my new state, bought me all the Muppet movies from the 90s. Later on, I received more to add to my collection, I even started drawing Muppets, which helped my artistic technique greatly. Everything was all frogs and roses. I didn’t want to shut everyone away anymore. I thanked God every night for Jim Henson, who is still my influence today, despite never knowing him personally or while he was alive. But here’s the thing: I thought he was still alive. I never got to his article on Muppet Wiki before this. I was browsing YouTube one day, and I found a video entitled ”Big Bird singing at Jim Henson’s funeral service.” ”Funeral?!” I thought to myself, panicking. I clicked the video and was sobbing by the end of it. I felt like my world was crashing all around me. Jim had been dead for so long and I never even realized. I was sad and confused and hurt. I felt like nothing would ever cheer me up. Ever.
This caused me to hate Steve Whitmire and the other new performers for a time and all things after Jim Henson had passed away. Looking back, I feel like a terrible excuse for a fan for doing that, but it’s true. But soon, after sitting down to watch some of the older Muppet movies, I realized that Kermit really hasn’t changed at all. He’s a little softer and sweeter (and a bit less frustrated) now, but he’s still the same frog I met when I was little. That kept me going for a while, but the opposition still came back. Despite having Steve’s Kermit in my childhood the most, I had become very attached to Jim’s Kermit after watching a whole lot of The Muppet Show and the Muppet movies of the late 70’s-80’s. Three years I had struggled with this, even when I found out about The Muppets (or, the new Muppet movie, to alleviate any confusion). When I finally saw The Muppets, everything changed. Seeing Kermit struggle through so much and finally finding his place again made me see that there is NO Steve’s Kermit or Jim’s Kermit; there’s only one. And he has always been the Kermit he is today. Not to mention Walter made me feel pretty good about myself, too.
Upon walking out of the theater, I could feel that I finally found where I truly belong and where I can have no doubts: the wonderful world of Jim Henson. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be happy, I don’t know where I would be, I’d have NO self confidence (I learned about that from Piggy, of course) and I probably wouldn’t even be a Christian (I don’t know why Muppets taught me to work up the courage to do that, but it happened and I’m happy about it).
So thank you Kermit, Elmo, Walter, Gonzo, Steve Whitmire, all of the other Muppets on the whole dang planet, and Jim Henson. My life would suck so much without you.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org