Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Telly Celebrates Hanukkah.

Sesame Street, let's call a spade a spade. I love and have always loved you but we must acknowledge your hesitation in a certain matter regarding the puppet shown above. Friends, this is Telly Monster.

Telly has a tragic flaw: he's an addict... To television.

Yes, friends, Sesame Street and "addiction" may exist in the same sentence. Telly's dark past, his likely hidden struggles through rehab, his reconciliation with friends and family lost due to his obsession mar Sesame Street's sober and clear-headed reputation.

Addiction, Mr. Henson? Perhaps... But I'm not so sure.

Perhaps, this obsessive-compulsive engagement with the idiot box led to Telly's current neurosis, but I've got a feeling he keeps a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank on his nightstand. I've got a feeling he rushes home on Rosh Hashannah and fasts over Yom Kippur. I've got a feeling he's eats kosher and can recite the kaddish. I've got a feeling he knows how to eat some good old homemade matzoh ball soup.

This isn't just a hunch. His frantic and worried anxiety attacks, frequently calmed by Elmo's Gentile reassurance, somewhat deviated septum, and eccentric extra-curricular participation in triangle tossing and pogo sticking all too easily remind me of Woody Allen.

I have many fond memories of Sesame Street, like the day it was brought to us by the letter. Or, how about when we learned that C was -and always is- for "cookie?" But, the more I think about this, the more I wonder if there are others whose ethnicity may have been kept secret. Grover's nose is large, as well. Big Bird is certainly a bit of a yenta. Even Bert and Ernie could pass off as observers of shabbos. After all, the show isn't aired on Saturdays. Had Henson been trying to hide this all along?

But, I'm not criticizing. Sesame Street has always celebrated an urban ethnic (and puppetian) diversity. From Caucasian to Latino, Asian to African American, people of all races live on Sesame Street, and quite peacefully at that. And, although Telly's people are considered white, they are just as often considered not white and quite possibly own a couple brownstones next to Oscar's trash can.

It wasn't until recently, when my oldest daughter began watching PBS programming, that I remembered Telly from my younger days. He has evolved. He is no longer the ironic monster designed as a scare tactic to prevent children from watching too much TV. He is now like me: a child disconnected from his Yid.

Embrace it, Telly! Be proud that bagels are, in fact, our people's cuisine. Do not deny who you are when who you are is too often the butt of a priest and rabbi joke. I've got a feeling you own a yarmulke. I've got a feeling you might rest on Saturdays. I've got a feeling, Telly, that you and I have much in common. I've got a feeling you celebrate Hanukkah.

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