Mary Arline (queen_of_kithia) wrote,
Mary Arline
queen_of_kithia

Special

I wrote and submitted an article to one of the Muppet fansites. It was a review of the Sesame Street 20th anniversary special. If you like, you can read it here. They edited it a little bit, but I don't mind. I notice that, even after editing, it's a LOT longer than most of their articles. The only line I really regret losing is when I was talking about Ray Charles performing the song "Bein' Green"; what I originally wrote is "with a chorus of monsters, including Elmo and--inexplicably--a naked Baby Natasha." It was a funny line, and totally true, but such is life; if you're going to let other people publish your stuff, you have to be prepared for that kind of thing.1

Anyway, I wanted to write about that special because it has personal significance for me. The personal significance didn't really fit into the review, but I wanted to talk about it anyway.

The special aired on April 7, 1989, and while I didn't remember the exact date without the aid of research, I remember the events of that date very, very well.

I was eight years old, about two months shy of my ninth birthday, which means I was in second grade. I remember that it was a Friday, and was able to verify that through research. It was an extremely windy afternoon. If I recall correctly, the wind was out of the east, and in order to reach my bus after school was dismissed, I had to walk right into it. As I was walking to the bus, the wind blew some dirt or debris into my left eye. Instinctively, I started rubbing my eye and in the process (although it wasn't diagnosed until the next day) I scratched my left cornea.

If you've ever experienced a scratched cornea, then you already know how painful it is, and if you haven't, I don't know if I can describe it to you. It's a relentless and excruciating aching-burning-stinging-stabbing-throbbing sort of pain. Suffice it to say that (a) it was one of the top three most painful experiences I have ever had in my life, and (b) my eyes are watering now just thinking about it.

I had a Girl Scout meeting after school that day. Throughout the meeting I (somewhat stupidly) kept rubbing my eye, and my eye kept hurting worse and worse. It was something of a vicious cycle, but I didn't realize it until the damage had already been done. By the end of the meeting I was in agony, to the point that I could no longer bear to keep my eye open. This was a problem because, as I mentioned, it was my left eye, and I'm unable to close my left eye independently of my right eye. So in order to get any sort of relief I either had to keep both eyes closed, or else I had to manually hold my left eye closed so that I could still see to walk, for example. Now that I think about it, I imagine that I probably looked pretty strange walking around with my hand over my left eye, but at that point I was beyond caring about such peripheral concerns.

Now, keep in mind that by the time someone picked me up from my Girl Scout meeting, it was after 5:00 p.m. on a Friday, which means the doctors' offices would have been closed. It didn't seem to be an emergency in the strictest sense of the word, and acute care clinics didn't exist back then, at least not in my town. So the best we could do was wait until morning and make an appointment with whatever doctor was on call at that time.

I spent most of the rest of that evening lying on the couch in the living room with my eyes closed because it hurt to open them. That's what I was doing when this Sesame Street special came on TV. I was very upset and frustrated because I really wanted to watch it, but I was literally unable to watch anything. So I kept lying on the couch with my eyes closed and listened to it instead. And listening to it was actually pretty comforting because it evoked some of my warmest and safest and happiest childhood memories, and because the Sesame Street characters, even just their voices, were (and still are) as familiar and beloved as my own family. It helped to distract me from the unendurable pain I was in, for an hour or so, anyway.

Fortunately, everybody in my family likes Sesame Street, so we had the foresight to record this special on videotape, so once my eye had been taken care of I could finally watch it. And I watched it many times thereafter as well. And 23 years later I wrote a review of it so everyone would know how much it means to me, although they wouldn't entirely know why until now.
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1In light of certain recent events, that line might have retroactively taken on some unfortunate implications, so it is probably just as well that it got edited out.
And that is all I have to say about that.
Tags: memory, muppets, sesame street, television
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