Rubber Ducky, you’re the one.
Rubber Ducky, you make bath time lots of fun.
Rubber Ducky, I’m awfully fond of you.
-The immortal words of Ernie
Every kid growing up thought Sesame Street was a city block where happiness and community reigned supreme. However, in a recent E! Hollywood True Story, a long lost star of the show said he begged to differ and wanted the opportunity to shed some light about what life was truly like living in the city. With Sesame Street being so crowded, Ernie caught wind of the vicious rumors floating around the block about him. From the very beginning of the show, Ernie noticed the stares he would receive from the other puppets as they headed to their trailers. It wasn’t until he caught Elmo and Oscar the Grouch whispering about something then quickly going their separate ways when he approached them on his way to Hooper’s Store that Ernie realized something was up. Things reached their boiling point on the set when Grover informed him that today’s letter Q was sponsored by Big Bird and Snuffy for ‘questioning’ Ernie’s manliness. His co-stars did not know how to deal with a cast member who wore so many stripped sweaters, roomed with a guy that had pigeons as pets and worst of all enjoyed long soaks in a tub filed with bubbles. Unable to deal with the torment and insomnia, Ernie got hooked on the sleeping narcotic Doxylamine. While under the influence one night, he wandered off into Elmo’s World only to be found by Jim Henson passed out in a closet clutching his precious rubber ducky.
Having kicked his sleeping pill habit thanks to his appearance on the third season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, Ernie now spends his days selling bathtubs and doing Community Theater in the small town of Asheville, NC. Hearing what Ernie went through living in Sesame Street was extremely difficult because I also find myself struggling to come to grip with the fact that I am a grown man who enjoys a nice bubble bath every once in awhile. Can someone please fill me in on what the exact cut off age is when a man having a nice soak in the tub becomes socially unacceptable? Did I miss the memo stating I was now required to stand up, be a man and take a shower every few days? The only relief I receive is knowing it is still okay being a man and using a loofah. What is that you say? Loofahs are not allowed either? Oh no, I am in trouble.
The funny thing about life is our tendency to put age limits on things to justify our behavior. With their child having a complete meltdown in the middle of Target, the mother tells onlookers that her little one has perfected the art of the “terrible twos.” The adolescent who laughs at every fart joke and breaks curfew is just being your “typical teenager.” Those ‘next morning regret’ photos plastered on MySpace are explained away as college kids sowing their wild oats. Pretty soon, they’ll have to snap out of it anyway and enter the real world. Having your degree in hand, your entire focus in life shifts to getting that dream job, marrying the right woman, moving into a home with the white picket fence, producing 2.5 highly functional kids and earning a paycheck that allows you to buy all the toys that will make you happy. Exchanging late nights with your family for late nights at the office are justified because you are trying to be a provider. Envy your neighbor’s latest and greatest thing is okay since you are trying to keep up with the Kardashians (um…I mean Jones’).
Yet, once everything lines up and a man finds the things he has been chasing after have gotten him nowhere closer to being content, it is socially acceptable for the man to go a bit haywire. After all, the poor guy is just having a mid-life crisis and no one has the heart to tell him how ridiculous he looks with his hairpiece flapping in the wind as he attempts to pick up chicks on his brand new Harley. I hate to break it to anyone that wears a rug, but no matter how you place it on your dome, no one looks good wearing a tope. Everyone knows you are trying to hide something you are embarrassed about by looking younger than you really are. The most caring thing a friend could do is ripping that silly mess off of your head.
For the last few years, I feel like I have been living with a ‘comb over’ of sorts that I wear to hide my lack of growth as a man. The laziness, integrity issues, lack of self-discipline and apathy that defined my college years could be explained away due to my age. Excuse me for being a little slow and extending adolescence into my late twenties. As these issues continued into my marriage and entrance into fatherhood, I refused to tackle them and instead searched for anything and everything to distract me from the dissatisfaction I felt with myself. While the world around me continued at fast forward pace, my maturity remained stalled on the pause button. Kicking things into neutral for such a long time has forced me to play catch up on the fly. Excusing my behavior due to my age is no longer an option. The time has come to engage and place my growth into drive.