Saturday, April 12, 2014

The significant others in my life


      Several noteworthy animals stand out paws apart from the rest, and they will be in my heart forever. Through thick and thin, they were there for me when I needed comfort and companionship.
      There are a couple rule-breaking exceptions that don’t have forepaws or hind paws. One is an amphibian. Believe me, “he” is a special case all to himself. The other is a dragon that lives by the sea.
    What’s not to love about Kermit the Frog? He is such an adorable character, and after all these years, he mixes well socially with Jimmy Fallon like an old webbed foot.
     Kermit sat on the new set of “The Tonight Show” and did his best entertaining us. I was mesmerized by his charm and wit. Frankly, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He can enthrall a lively audience in New York City as well as croaking to the water lilies on a rural pond, or teaching preschoolers the do’s and don’ts of navigating early childhood.
     I am not sure that I would be able to clock the number of hours I watched Kermit on “Sesame Street” while sorting diapers, hunting for pacifiers in the sofa cushions and nibbling on Cheerios from a Tupperware bowl.
     There are people, and animals, too, that grow on you without you realizing it. Kermit is one. Certainly, he isn’t the most handsome, and I wouldn’t put him in the leading men category. As a stay at home mom, I might better have turned the dial to the “soaps” to get a little vicarious romance for an uplift. Not so. I stuck with Kermit.
      Kermit was a regular fixture in our household, and part of the important preschool growing up period. Language development skills and basic colors were discussed daily between Bert, Ernie and Kermit. Add in Miss Piggy and you had a television full of delightful friends.  
       I dare say that there were a number of times I talked to Kermit about my adult domestic problems, too, and I got relief from letting it all out like spilled milk all over the carpet. That reminds me of the housewifery humor of Erma Bombeck (Dave Barry is more to my aspirations as a writer) proving that I was no different than the other moms going through early child rearing.
     “Rainbow Connection” is one of my top songs, and I can hear Kermit’s voice singing out those magical words leaving me wondering what’s on the other side, and assuring me that making the wishes believing even if there was only a remote chance they might possibly come true.
     Word from the preschoolers is that “The Muppets Most Wanted” is not doing well at the box office.  I have no doubt that Kermit will pick up the pieces of the plot, and leap on to lower and damper ground to regroup.
     “Lassie” looms larger than life on the movie screen, and my eyes fill with tears as a little kid watching for Lassie’s safe arrival home after getting lost on the Scottish mountainside. If I could only reach out and pet Lassie, everything in life would be fine.
      The smell of fresh popcorn and the steady hum of voices rise to greet Dad and me while we walk down the right aisle of the Suffolk Theater on our regular Sunday afternoon visit.
     I clutch his hand because I suddenly seem so small in comparison to everyone around me. The carpet is thick and plush under my feet, and I sink in rolling my oxford shoes from side to side. We choose our row near the back on the side, because dad tells me that it isn’t good for our eyes to sit up too close. In front of the theater is a red velvet curtain hanging from floor to ceiling that will soon open to begin a magical afternoon.
     I learned that is okay to let my feelings out when I cried over
Lassie. Later, it would be Benji, Beethoven and 101 Dalmatians.
     In “Lady and the Tramp” I lived the journey of Lady, a beloved cocker spaniel, and Tramp, a mutt with a heart of gold. Who doesn’t admire the underdog? I will root for him, or her, every time.
     Walt Disney was prepared to cut their famous spaghetti eating scene thinking that it would not be romantic and that dogs eating spaghetti would look silly. Luckily that did not happen since dogs everywhere love that scene and howl in front of their TV’s demanding more SpaghettiOs.
     “Puff the Magic Dragon” is another character that holds a multitude of memories of getting a little one to sleep with a soothing voice taking her to a land called Honah Lee.
     Several years ago I had the fortune to hear Peter, Paul and Mary on a reunion tour, and everyone sang out the beautiful melody together throughout the auditorium from gray hairs to tiny grandchildren. Memories are made of nights like this that transport us back for a second look.
     Flicker and Black Beauty jump to the top of the list of horse favs. When I visited Virginia for the annual pony roundup from Assateague Island, I reread Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague series for a second time with a new appreciation.
      Real time cats and dogs — a friend’s parakeet, too — have been in my life from day one with their assorted stories. Those precious tales I’ll save for another column.