All of my childhood idols were anthropomorphic characters. Rarely did a day pass when I wouldn’t quote Fozzie Bear, giving a “wakka-wakka” or two at the dinner table like the golden bear Muppet. I even fancied myself a real stand-up comedian, although I was just about as successful as Fozzie. There’s an old videotape at my mom’s house in which a five-year old me hams it up for the camera with an abysmal comic routine. It was clear, from my hat and loosely knotted tie swiped from my dad’s closet, just who I was trying to emulate, and it most certainly was not Richard Pryor or Steve Martin. “What, you wanna throw a tomato at me?” I asked my imaginary, disgruntled audience (for not even in my fantasies was I talented). “Go ahead!” After a few more leaden jokes, I beamed into the camera and proudly stated, in the pint-size Robert deNiro-esque voice I possessed as a child, “Now, I am, a comedian.” Couldn’t be further from the truth.
As an adult – well, somewhat of an adult – I realize that perhaps my identifying with Fozzie was some serious foreshadowing for my life. I’m unlucky, I seem to be hit-or-miss with people, and I can often get down on myself. However, I’m resilient, or at least I think I have been once or twice. Pelt me with tomatoes! I might cry about it, sure. But I might get back up and deliver some more terrible jokes. Fozzie and I both have perfected the “sad clown” persona.
The Bear wasn’t the only Muppet I worshiped, though. Miss Piggy was top hog in my mind. I considered it the highest of compliments to tell someone they reminded me of Miss Piggy, but naturally, no one was very flattered. What I admired most about her was her take-charge attitude, and her haughty nature. I wanted nothing more than to be her, instead of the shy, quiet girl who let other kids treat her like a doormat. Sadly, I was incapable of pulling off anything more than her characteristic, “Humph!” when someone made my little temper flare.
I still want to be Miss Piggy. She would never let a golf coach treat her like a second-class citizen because she’s a girl (er, a female pig). She’d tell people when they were annoying her. She would fight tooth and nail to make and keep friends instead of wallowing in lonely misery. I suppose there are a few tactics I picked up from the prissy hog. I learned how to lose my temper, but in a ladylike manner. I learned that girls can be tough, protective, stubborn, and pushy, and if they do it carefully, they perhaps won’t alienate everyone around them. In fact, I think that deep down, Miss Piggy is similar to the woman every woman wants to be. She was probably the root of all my “girl power” thinking back then. Forget the Spice Girls, I owe that all to Madame Pig.
In the end, though, I think I very much ended up as a Fozzie Bear, and not as a Miss Piggy, and it’s not nearly as funny as I always thought it would be.