Saturday, February 18, 2012

Strange Bedfellows

Have you ever noticed how much your mind wanders when you start to fall asleep?  And when you stay up past your usual bedtime, the wanderings of your mind become more pronounced and vivid?  Sleep deprivation shares a lot of the same characteristics as intoxication.  Judgment is impaired and the stream of consciousness passing through your mind starts to manifest itself in the physical world.  You start saying things you meant to keep to yourself had you been thinking clearly.

For someone like Ernie, who already lacks a filter between his brain and his mouth, nighttime is the best time for surreal and unwarranted deep conversations.  While the regular skits involving Ernie and Bert vary, each nighttime sketch is virtually the same.  Just as Bert's head hits the pillow, some internal or external disturbance rouses Ernie and he insists that Bert converse with him.  Bert tries his best to avoid the situation and usually ends up with a bad case of insomnia.

Counting sheep doesn't help when they make so much noise!

Unlike Bert, Ernie is not bothered by noise when he is trying to sleep.  The very first sketch makes this clear as Ernie's solution to the annoying water-dripping sound in the bathroom is to drown it out with a chaotic din.

Thus begun the evening battles for sleep.  Every idea that popped into Ernie's head was worthy of a lengthy discussion that could just not wait until morning.  It is not Ernie's fault, he just gets his best thinking done at night.  But finally, after years of torturing his roommate, Ernie places himself in Bert's shoes and realizes what a nuisance he's been.

The sole reason Ernie behaves in this manner is because he loves his friend and values his opinion.  At the expense of causing a minor annoyance, Ernie can sleep better knowing he and Bert are on the same page.  But, the realization that Bert is bothered by his actions hurts Ernie a little bit.  He doesn't want to be loathed by the person he cares the most about.

Ernie and Bert's relationship, while a hot topic for controversy and debate, is worth showing to children. Their main focus is friendship and the values that implies.  Friends tolerate each other, even when the other can be a giant pain.  They look out for each other and endure the troublesome periods.  It is better to go through life with an ally than facing the world alone.  So, one night, Ernie and Bert have a frank discussion about their relationship.  For two people who have been a part of each other's lives for so long, this conversation was a long time coming.  But it's one that everyone can recognize.

It doesn't matter how many differences two people have.  They can still like each other and be better people for it.

This is one of the few nights in which Bert is actually glad Ernie kept him up.  Since it was nighttime, the true feelings could shine through and help confirm how solid the foundation of their friendship was.  Both of them left this moment understanding each other better and learned to make the necessary adjustments to keep their relationship going.

All of this leads to one of the best nights the duo ever experienced.  Ernie, having been careful about staying quiet at bedtime finds himself in a dilemma and debates whether or not it is worth waking Bert up for a trivial matter.  Night after night, he has woken Bert up to fulfill his needs for a conversational partner, but now, Ernie's concern is solely for his partner's happiness.

This beautiful moment is why we have friends.  They open us up to new experiences, push us out of our comfort zones, and allows us to share life's treasures with them.  Where would we be if we never met our friends?  We would be completely different people.  The people we meet shape who we become.  We chose to keep these people in our lives because their mere presence makes the world exponentially better.  At the beginning of this week, the Muppets were trying to figure out what love is.  But everyone knows what it is.  It is impossible put into words, but when you look into the eyes of the people you love, you can see it.  When you listen to their voice, you can hear it.  When you embrace them, kiss them, caress them, or just hold their hand, you can feel it.  Why do we have to keep talking about it?

It is what it is.

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