SESAME STREET, NY - In an interview conducted by television reporter and journalist Kermit the Frog, two of Sesame Street's long-time residents have finally acknowledged exactly what their relationship is.
Amid lingering rumors and speculation from neighbors as well as executives at PBS as to the true nature of their living arrangement, Bert and Ernie have decided to lay it all on the line and come clean on what goes on behind closed doors at 123 Sesame Street.
"Frankly, we don't know what all the hoo-ha is all about." Bert says, fiddling with the sticks that prop up his skinny, rather useless arms, giving the illusion that he can move them on his own. "We have been living together for the last forty years in this same one-bedroom apartment, and nobody has never ever questioned us...until now."
"Yeah, all of a sudden, Gordon and Bob and Susan and even Maria are looking at us all funny like." Ernie adds, scratching his head with his humanlike hands that require no sticks for support. "It's making Bert and me feel really weird, like we shouldn't be living together anymore."
For the past four decades, these two fellows have been singing songs and doing all kinds of silly things to help children learn about letters, numbers, and social issues. Up until recently, their private lives have been a non-issue. The suspicions surfaced after Gordon accidentally walked in on Bert giving Ernie a neck massage, which was rather difficult since Bert's hands don't squeeze very well. "I thought Ernie was enjoying it a little too much." Gordon observed. "The guys just said hello and continued on with the massage, so I apologized for barging in and excused myself."
Soon the whole block was ablaze with gossip about what the two really do up there in that apartment. Because of his height, Big Bird was even recruited to stand on his tiptoes and peek into the boys' bedroom to see what was going on, although Big Bird really wasn't sure what he was supposed to be seeing. "They were just sitting on the bed and playing." Big Bird reported to the neighbors. "Oh, God!" Susan was heard to utter.
"What were they playing with?" Maria inquired, dreading the answer. "Well, Bert is playing with his favorite pidgeon Louie, and Ernie is playing with his yo-yo." Big Bird responded, followed by a collective "Ohhhhh, good." from the adults. "Wait, what do you mean yo-yo?" Bob asked, unsure if Big Bird said something slang. "His big Duncan." Bird said, adding more uncertainty to the situation.
Oscar the Grouch seemed to be the only one willing to ask the boys point blank if they are more than just friends. "Yeah, I don't care what they'd think of me for pressing them on the issue. The only thing that kept me from going to them was that Bob told me he would quit bringing me his garbage to play in if I asked them, so I didn't."
For the most part, everyone on Sesame Street is willing to let Bert and Ernie continue living there, as long as they keep that part of their lives behind closed doors. "They're such good boys, and nothing should come between us and them." Maria said, grimmacing at Kermit as he caught a housefly from Oscar's garbage can in mid-flight with his tongue and ate it. "But it's just a shock to think that they could be up there doing stuff like that."
Neither Bert nor Ernie understood exactly what it is everyone suspects them of doing, but Bert wants to forget all about this. "I would give up my bottle cap collection and my paper clip collection if everybody would quit thinking that something is wrong with us. I wish that we can get past this and go on with our lives as friends and neighbors."
"I agree," Ernie said, holding onto his rubber duckie. "I would even give up this little guy just to have all this be over with and get back to normal." Ernie gave the duck a queeze and giggled as only he can.
Kermit fought back fears of losing his friendship with the twosome and summoned the courage to ask the question that was on everyone's mind on Sesame Street, but he did it with tact and diplomacy. He asked them at first more indirect questions, such as "Do you bathe together?" Their answer was "No, except when the city has the water pressure down real low, so we do it to save water."
They were asked if they sleep together. "We sleep in the same room, because it's a one-bedroom apartment," Bert stated. "but we have twin beds, so we don't actually sleep together."
Kermit asked the guys if either of them have a girlfriend. "One of us collects paper clips and loves pigeons, and the other takes half his possessions to the laundrymat to wash clothes." Ernie quips. "What do you think?" Kermit gathered that they're both confirmed bachelors, and there was no point in pursuing any more the notion that it was anything more than that.
When it was eventually explained to the boys exactly what everyone thought was going on in their apartment, they still didn't seem to understand. Kermit concluded from this that the boys are still just boys at heart in an innocent, brother-like relationship, much to the relief of everybody on Sesame Street.
Not that it should have changed things, as everyone is welcome here regardless of their differences, but the issue would have presented the program with a new challenge to put into an episode. "It would have been hell trying to explain that concept to small children who don't even know yet where they came from." Bob said to Kermit in closing. "Remind me to stay home when the kids finally learn about that!"
As one of the show's most memorable songs goes, "Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?", the gang on Sesame Street thought they knew Bert and Ernie pretty well, until the rumors started flying. But then when their suspicions about the boys were dashed, the folks realized they had been right about them all along. Now they have to worry about Elmo, who just discovered his peepee and is fighting the urge to hump Maria's leg.
Then there's Grover, who has had recurring issues with kleptomania, and of course Cookie Monster and his constant battle with his sweet tooth and craving for cookies. Even on Sesame Street, dysfunction is apparently a familiar concept.