A lot of people ask me, "Hey, Matt, how has your life changed since you became a father?" Well, first of all, I'm forced to deal with poop that isn't my own on an almost daily basis. Also, I'm now comfortable saying and writing the word "poop," a word that one year and seven months ago was as offensive to me as any and every racial slur. And I watch a lot of Sesame Street.
I read a lot of books about Sesame Street and it's furry denizens as well. If there is a book in existence featuring characters from Sesame Street, especially Elmo, it's probably on my daughter's bookshelf right this very minute, waiting to be read for a sixth night in a row (I'm looking at you The Fix-It Shop!).
The truth is, I love Sesame Street. I love the show, I love (most of) the characters, and I love the song the little Muppet girl sings about loving her hair. I love it all, and more important, Q loves it.
These books though. I don't know. Some of them are fine, but most of them are garbage, and in the case of Grover's First Day at School, full of boldfaced lies. That's right, Grover's First Day of School features one lie after another and, frankly, it makes me sick to my stomach. Former GEP writer and current bro, Jonathan, considers many of the Sesame Street books (his own daughter is also a fan), non-canonical, which certainly explains the fallacies on display in the Grover book.
Here's a quick plot synopsis of Grover's First Day at School: Grover is going to school for the first time. I already have a problem with this, but since this is a simple plot synopsis, I'll come back to that. Anyway, Grover gets to school and who are his classmates? Well, it's a virtual Who's Who of his Sesame Street co-horts of course: Bert, Ernie, Elmo, Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, Rosita, Zoe, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch. The gang participates in classic kindergarten activities like reading, drawing, and practicing proper classroom etiquette. Then everybody walks home to Sesame Street, including Cookie Monster, whose backpack is filled to the brim with chocolate chip cookies.
I know what you're thinking: "That sounds lovely. What's your problem, man?" I'll tell you what my problem is: there is absolutely no way that half of these characters are in kindergarten. And before you say I'm overthinking it, I should inform you that Grover's First Day at School spawned a lengthy conversation between me and my wife about Muppet ages. That's right, my brilliant and beautiful wife is not above wasting an afternoon talking about the ages of puppets.
I thought, before we part ways and you return to posting vague messages on your Facebook page about how your life didn't work out the way you planned or tweeting the latest hilarious memes on your Twitter feed, I'd share some of my thoughts on the proper ages of certain Muppets featured in the Grover book as kindergarteners. That sounds fun and not like a waste of time, right?
Proposed Age: mid-20's
The Facts: While barely researching this post, I happened across a Yahoo! Answers post in which someone named "Caren" wondered what ages each Muppet character represented. She received only one answer, from someone named "Jonathan," who appears to have even more free-time on his hands than me since he mentions actual, conducted research, and his unnamed source revealed the Grover is allegedly supposed to be 4-years-old. There is no way this is true!
First, Grover is a world-traveler. You've seen the segments where he returns from a foreign country and shows a short video about kids in that country doing something fun, like making wire cars or smothering live chickens in a wicker basket with pita bread. How many 4-year-olds do you know that have traveled solo around the world? Probably not that many.
Grover has also worked as a waiter, a fact not lost on "Jonathan," and an elevator operator. If Grover is really 4-years-old, this violates all kinds of child labor laws. And who wants a 4-year-old waiter? You know he's probably back in the kitchen picking his nose.
Conclusion: Like any post-graduate, Grover is looking to find himself, hence the various trips overseas and the shit jobs.
The Cookie Monster
Proposed Age: 40-something
The Facts: The gruff voice indicates years of smoking; the odd speech pattern suggests minor brain damage, possibly brought on by a motorcycle accident; the non-stop ingestion of cookies indicates no parent figure telling him what to do.
Sure, Cookie Monster hangs out with Prairie Dawn a lot, but they have more of a "drunk dad / embarrassed daughter" relationship.
Conclusion: Cookie Monster has reached a point in his life when he should really start caring about his health (hence the recent switch to cookies being a "sometimes food"), but he's still a kid at heart really and the excessive eating of cookies keeps him connected to his childhood. He's also most assuredly brain-damaged in some way.
Oscar the Grouch
Proposed Age: 57
The Facts: He's so grouchy.
Conclusion: Oscar the Grouch is an angry old man, not a kindergartener who politely raises his hand to answer questions, which he is shown doing in Grover's First Day at School.
Bert and Ernie
Proposed Ages: 34 and 32, respectively
The Facts: Bert and Ernie rent an apartment together, something two kindergarten-aged children never do.
Bert and Ernie share a bedroom, something only two men who have been friends for many, many years would feel comfortable doing.
Conclusion: Bert and Ernie are two buddies who met in college, stayed close after graduation, and are trying to make it in New York City. They are not in kindergarten.