Grouches Need Love Too: What I Learned from Sesame Street

This past Tuesday a box set DVD was released collecting the "Best of Sesame Street 1969-1974." It's hard to believe that Jim Henson's Muppets have been teaching kids for that long, but it true. In honor of this milestone (and the new release), I thought I'd outline the life lessons I've gained from "The Ses." (That's the cool nickname I came up with for it.)

1. Racial divides can be conquered by a well-timed musical number. -- Sure, there seems to be as much racial tension in America now as there ever has been. But we can overcome all of that with a song. Don't know how to connect with your African-American neighbors? Sing 'em "Ebony and Ivory." Have a classmate that you'd like to get to know better? Just give your best Jose Feliciano impression on "Feliz Navidad" and watch those racial barriers fall. Oh, and it helps if you try their ethnic food. Minorities just love that.

2. Letters might be the most successful businessmen of all time. -- Sesame Street has been a huge hit (critically and commercially) for more than three decades. And yet Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald's none of the big companies that would love to associate their brand with the show (and it's audience) can get sponsorship. Who does sponsor episodes? That's right the letter "q." Who knew you oughta be taken stock tips from the alphabet?

3. We need never fear an alien invasion. -- Sure, there is other life out there in the Universe, but I'd hesitate to call it "intelligent." If (or when) the aliens invade we can look forward to a little noise pollution (they speak in yip's) and the loss of our typewriters and telephones (they find these devices fascinating). How these aliens figured out inter-galactic travel is a mystery that may never be solved.

4. Homeless people are grouchy, but really deep down they're puppets. -- It's perfectly all right for this racially inclusive bunch of young people to talk to the bum that lives in the trash can. It's not only alright, but desirable, because we all know he's really as cuddly and friendly as our friend Grover, he's just fallen on hard times. Oops, watch out for the used syringes when you give him a hug.

5. Sometimes the 2 ton wooly mammoth-like creature that you've been hallucinating really does exist. -- And just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. Big Bird has an imaginary friend, and every one makes fun of him for it. But lo and behold, the big Snuffleupagus really does exist. So the next time a pink elephant is talking to you on the couch, make sure and put down some newspapers so he doesn't make a mess.

Sesame street was a show that didn't mind showing kids the harsher side of life. It also reminded them that as long as you can count to ten and thank your sponsors, you'll go far in life...but you might need to ask directions to get back.