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Friday, June 30, 2006 | Like Martin Luther King, Jr., I too have a dream.
Except mine’s pettier. I just want to introduce my daughter to Elmo, the most popular furry monster on Sesame Street.
Elmo was a big deal in our house a year or so ago. We used to watch his videos over and over and over again. And then we’d watch them some more.
It wasn’t total agony. Elmo has some cool jazz musicians backing him up and the puns and jokes are certainly amusing to someone as immature as me.
So, I’ve had it in the back of my head that I would like to meet Elmo and introduce him to Alex.
I figured if I could swing that, things would change around the house. Suddenly, I would be the “cool Daddy,” and an object worthy of respect.
Oh well, be careful what you ask for because a few weeks ago, I had the chance to talk with Elmo as part of a promotion for “A Capitol Fourth,” a concert that airs July 4 on KPBS.
Elmo is going to be performing in Washington, D.C. along with Jason Alexander and Vanessa Williams. When I found out about it, I was so excited about the chance to interview my daughter’s favorite monster Muppet that I begged the publicist arranging the event to let me put my daughter on for a few moments at the end of the interview.
She checked with Elmo’s people and he was okay with it but in order to do this, I had to get up early and do the interview from home. It went as well as an interview with a 3-year-old furry monster can go.
Me: “Washington D.C. in summer can be a pretty muggy place. How does that affect red monster fur?”
Elmo: “It doesn’t affect Elmo at all. It’s a lot of fun. And Elmo gets to be with his friends and that makes it all worth it.”
Me: “I imagine you’ve been to birthday parties before but they’re usually for somebody like Gordon or Big Bird…”
Elmo: “And they’re normally not a lot of fireworks…”
Me: “But is this the first time you’ve gone to a birthday party for a country?”
Elmo: “No, we celebrate it on Sesame Street too. It’s just going to be bigger because it’s in Washington.”
Me: “What are some of the places you’re going to see in Washington?”
Elmo: “Elmo’s going to see the Washington Monument. And, of course, the Capitol. Elmo’s hoping he can do a lot of sightseeing.”
Me: “Any chance the president or Dick Cheney’s going to stop and give you a tour of the White House?”
Elmo: “Elmo doesn’t know. Elmo hopes so. The more the merrier (giggles).”
Me: “Anything that Elmo gets to do in the performance that he doesn’t get to do on Sesame Street?”
Elmo: “Well, Elmo gets to wear a cool vest with stripes on it. And Elmo gets to wear a bowtie and a really nice straw hat in celebration of the Fourth of July.”
Me: “Do they let you keep it afterwards?”
Elmo: “Well, it’s Elmo’s clothes. Nobody else can fit them.”
After doing my portion of the interview, I was hoping to turn it over to Alex. A few days before, I tried to prepare her by telling her Elmo was calling for an interview and that she would have a chance to ask him some questions. It wasn’t easy explaining what an interview is, much less what Daddy does for a living. It’s not her fault.
I know people 10-times older than she is who still have no clue exactly what it is I do. I sometimes get confused myself.
But I knew that my best-laid plans probably weren’t going to work when I asked her, “So, what do you want to ask him?”
Her response: “I’d ask him to sing `La la la la’” and then she started singing the “Theme to Elmo’s World.”
At that point, I figured Alex probably wasn’t going to be capable of a hard-hitting interview a la Jimmy Kimmel so when the time came for her to talk with Elmo, I just told him she was going to say Hi.
Problem is, I forgot to tell Alex – or wake her before the interview. I walked into our bedroom where she had snuck in earlier and tried to wake her – while Elmo was on the phone!
My wife shooed me out with my tail between my legs.
But Elmo was cool about it and offered to leave a message instead.
“Hello, Alexandra. It’s Elmo. Elmo just wanted to wish you good morning. Elmo loves you very much and Elmo hopes to see you very soon.”
A few hours later, I played the tape for her and she was impressed.
“He’s talking to me! Hi Elmo!”
I’m not sure how much I impressed her. A few minutes later, I kissed my wife and she said, “Don’t do that. She’s my mommy.”
“But she’s my wife.”
“No she’s not. She’s my mommy.”
Oh well, maybe my stock will improve if I introduce her to Dora the Explorer.