Childhood Trauma – Snuffalupagus

When I was a kid, the only character on Sesame Street who ever saw Suffalupagus was Big Bird.
They would do their scene and then Snuffy would say, “Oh, Bird…I have to go,” and waddle off down the street.
Bob or someone would immediately come up and say, “Hi, Big Bird! What are you doing?”
When Bird said that he had just been talking to his friend the Snuffalupagus, Bob would insist that there were no such things as Snuffalupagusses (Snuffalupagi?) – say that Bird’s friend was imaginary…a delusion, an hallucination.

As a four-year-old, this was incredibly frustrating to me.
I knew Snuffalupagus was real. Bird was telling the truth and not only did no one believe him, they called him crazy and a liar.
It’s a huge, hairy fucking elephant! Doesn’t move fast – walking down the street RIGHT NOW! TURN YOUR HEAD, BOB!

I aged out of watching Sesame Street, but some scars never heal.
Something more than 25 years later, I was visiting friends who had twins. The kids were watching Sesame Street, we were chatting over coffee. On the TV, Bird was talking to Snuffalupagus.
Bob walked up and said, “Hi, Big Bird! Hi, Snuffy!”

I swear to fuck I almost had a heart attack.


When the fuck was the goddamn episode where Big Bird gets to say, “SEE! SEE YOU SONS OF BITCHES! SNUFFALUPAGUSSES ARE REAL, SO FARK YOU! And, Bob…you can take a long hard suck on my BIG BIRD!”

They just toss off a “Hi, Snuffy” as if none of that rat bastard childhood trauma ever happened?

I still love Sesame Street, I guess…and I always will.
In Canada, it even provided my very first French lessons (along with an unquenchable desire to live in a Capital I in the middle of the desert in the center of the sky).
But on the Snuffalupagus issue, I never got the closure I needed.


3 Responses

  1. Somewhere along the way, they just changed it. I’m not even sure if they had a “special episode” a-la Mr Hooper.

    I too found it frustrating. As good hearted and as well intentioned as the adult residents of Sesame Street were, even they could be oblivious to a giant hairy elephant walking down the street in broad daylight, no matter how hard you tried to draw attention to it. However, even as a kid, I always thought there was a deeper meaning.

    As a kid, it served as metaphor for the division between the adult world and the world of children. Now that I’m an adult, that still applies, but I now comprehend it on additional levels. I see that the adult world makes you numb to a lot of things, even a giant hairy elephant in the room. (ie Your entire suburban Crescent takes happy pills just to get through the day.)

    Also, as a kid, the adults also doubled as authority figures. Authority figures that are oblivious to the needs of the common child. I learned that, even on Sesame Street, authority figures will fall short of your expectations. And that still assumes the best of intentions on the part of both adults and authority figures. What if they weren’t so well intentioned?

    So, inadvertently or not, the whole Snuffalupagus thing helped prepare me for life. It’s a shame today’s kids don’t get the chance to learn that lesson because they’re headed for an even bigger disappointment when they grow up.

  2. (Drive-by Google-result comment here; hi!)

    So, the new “40 Years of Sunny Days” compilation CD has the schene in which Snuffy was revealed as real, and like you, Big Bird has some anger, and gets a nice apology. There’s a lot of other pretty awesome stuff too, with great hildhood memories. (At least on the first disc — the part from the second twenty years is pretty much meaningless to me.)

    But I still like it the old way better — kids do have a world of imagination, and that should be okay too.

  3. Before it was censored out of existence for being politically incorrect, the local university paper used to have a comic section. In that section, there was an occasional cartoon called “Sez Me” street. If I recall correctly…

    Bert and Ernie were into gay S&M. Oscar was an alcoholic who lived in garbage cans and kept his stool in pickle jars. Maria was a hooker. Kermit the reporter covered gruesome back alley murders. Big Bird shot heroin (I think Snuffy was a drug hallucination) and he used his beak to tighten the belt around his arm. It was great. I hunted down every edition I could.

    Unfortunately, the whole thing was shut down after the spoof of Charlie Brown kicking the football. Instead of Lucy pulling away the football and Charlie breaking his back like every year since the early 50’s, in this version Charlie Brown kicked Lucy instead and said “Not this year, bitch!”

    The Women’s Studies department then launched a “violence against women” witch hunt that started a cascade of political correctness and the comics disappeared altogether. Killjoy fuckers.

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