If you want a shortcut into a person's personality, just ask them who his/her favorite Muppet is. If this person can't name one, you need to get out of there, RIGHT NOW. But odds are fairly good that he or she will be able to come up with an answer; the Muppets magically transcend generation and culture that way. Now, I actually have 2 favorite Muppets. I appreciate Rowlf the Dog for his sarcastic humor and easy-going nature; I aspire to be more like Rowlf. But the reality is that I am much more like my second favorite Muppet, Gonzo the Great; kinda misplaced, slightly neurotic, and really odd, with an absolute delight in the weird and wacky. I am sure none of this is a surprise to you guys and I am not here to talk about me and the Muppets, as delightful as that sounds. I am here to tell you that Awkward Dad's favorite Muppet is Fozzie Bear. And that is all you really need to know about Awkward Dad and how insufferable he is to live with sometimes.
Awkward Dad basically is Fozzie Bear. Oh, his jokes are much funnier and he is slightly more inclined to wear pants. Slightly. But at heart, he resembles that lovable fuzzy comic in so many ways. Fozzie and Awkward Dad both spread glee everywhere they go with an easy, slightly nerdy, charm. Both are kinda unsure of themselves at times but always willing to try new things. Both are true-blue friends. Awkward Dad maintains Fozzie's gentle perseverance and cheerfulness, even when faced with life's Statlers and Waldorfs. They aren't gonna get him down. Both Fozzie and Awkward Dad are basically big teddy bears, perhaps one more literally than the other, and they are both born Pollyannas.
I am not a Pollyanna. Frankly, Pollyanna makes me want to gag. She brings out my inner goth, but Awkward Dad totally gets Pollyanna. That man could find joy in a jar of tears. He is forever looking on the bright side of things, and (here is the really annoying part) telling me to look on the bright side of things. Like yesterday. So yesterday, the Super Boys were full-on brawling in the backseat of the van. Hurling toys, yelling, laughing like crazed scientists, and conducting some strange game that involved a lot of the word "butt." I wanted them to stop. I was begging them to stop. I was screaming at them to stop. And here is Awkward Dad, "You know, Awkward Mom, you really should be grateful that your sons are healthy and able to play so energetically. Plus, they clearly enjoy playing with each other, not all siblings do. We should be grateful." Grateful, Readers. I should be grateful for a butt game that is being screamed at the back of my head in decibels that can be heard in space.
Awkward Dad likes the mess of having children. He likes the chaos and the cacophony that is the soundtrack of our lives. He likes it when the children want to start a band in the middle of dinner. He likes the water park and the pool and the playground. He is fine with sand. He'll hang out on the floor and play Transformers for hours. He will voluntarily get out the playdough. And he doesn't do these things like me; not really loving it but doing them because I love my children. No, he is totally happy about doing them in general. Most stuff is like that with Awkward Dad; suggest an activity and he is up for it. Introduce a topic and he wants to hear all about it. Start a game and he wants to play. For him, the world is a magical place, full of adventures just waiting to happen and people just waiting to be friends. He is Pollyanna, who says "Just breathing isn't living." Awkward Dad loves life and he is gonna love every second of it, in his lovable Fozzie Bear style.
Awkward Dad is just a happy person, and he so wants me to be happy. Now, I am no Oscar the Grouch, but I definitely have a strong sense of sarcasm and cynicism that I have carefully cultivated over a childhood and adolescence of being mostly unpopular, defiantly plain, and a whole lot Gonzo. It was a defense and a shield, and it is really hard to drop defenses and take down shields. You get used to them being there, they are comfortable and they feel safe. I am happy, not insane Pollyanna happy like Awkward Dad, but quietly and contently happy.
However, my shields aren't exactly sure that they want anyone else knowing I am happy. Openly happy people are not shielded. Happy people are vulnerable. Happy people are gonna make others jealous. People who are gonna wanna steal that happiness or at least tear it down. People like Statler and Waldorf. And I am not Fozzie Bear or Awkward Dad, who just look at Statler and Waldorf with wise and kind understanding because they know that the barbs and the hurled hate come from a deep sadness and insecurity within the Statlers and the Waldorfs that has nothing to do with Fozzie and Awkward Dad or their worth as people. Or a person and a bear, in this case.
None of this makes me particularly happy about the yelling butt game, but I get what Awkward Dad is saying. There is nothing wrong with enjoying life, even messy, weird, imperfect life. And there is nothing wrong with letting people (especially the children you are guiding on this journey) know that you enjoy life and it is OK if they enjoy it too. Even if they are enjoying it rather loudly. While I am never gonna let go of Rowlf and Gonzo, there is certainly room in my heart for a little Fozzie. My heart certainly made a whole lotta room for Awkward Dad. I don't think I am ever gonna be (or even like) Pollyanna. There is something preachy and holy-than-thou about her. But positive, hopeful, happy, the grass is just fine on this side of the fence Fozzie Bear? Yeah, I think I can learn to love him and maybe even be a little more like him. That would make Awkward Dad happy. OK, well, happier then.
As Fozzie says, "I'm a professional. I've had three performances." Enthusiasm and belief can make up for a dearth of experience, and sometimes that is the only way to get a foot in there to get any experience in the first place.
Upon reflection, Awkward Dad may have more than a little Gonzo in him as well....