Like many children growing up in the bell-bottomed, health food decade of the 1970s, I was weaned on Sesame Street. Unlike its razzle-dazzle, disco-inspired sister show, the Electric Company, Sesame Street was the definition of wholesome. The affable muppets were goofy and taught youngsters everything from the alphabet to good manners. The lesson I took away, however, was more prurient in nature.
With the television channel tuned to PBS, I was captivated by the talking creatures, hanging onto their simple life lessons about friendships. As an only child, I wanted to be part of their community, isolated on this little urban enclave where everyone got along — everyone except Oscar the Grouch. He was the original bad boy. Scraggly and ill-tempered, Oscar was the rogue. And like any good Catholic school girl I wanted him.
Maybe it was his gruffness or the mystery of what went on in that garbage can, but I could not resist him. The camera only showed him from the chest up. My sexual curiosity was awakened, but at the tender age of 6 to 8 I did not know what these strange stirrings were. Occasionally, Oscar dug deep into his garbage can that doubled as his abode and pulled out an old banana peel or ratty soda can. I wanted to crawl into that can and hang with him, listen to his off-colored remarks and be his companion.
I did not fantasize (at first) about having sex with the muppet, given the fact that I did not know what sex was at that age. That came later. I did gravitate toward collecting any Oscar the Grouch merchandise that was available. This included coloring books, pencil cases and a fluffy stuffed Oscar toy. Innocuous enough, the toy became my first sex toy as a pre-teen.
Propped up on my bed, the gender-neutral toy was my regular sleep companion. Salacious activities were not a part of our nightly rituals, like brushing my teeth and saying my prayers. But one night, as I was adjusting my flannel nightgown, the fluffy toy brushed up against my upper thigh and the sensation was something delicious. Night after night, I used Oscar to tease and satisfy myself. His bushy eyebrows and gaping mouth were all part of the appeal.
Surprisingly Oscar the Grouch was not caught up in the scandals and rumors that plagued his other Sesame Street cast mates, including the whisperings about Bert and Ernie’s sexual orientation. For all of his crankiness, he has remained elusive and only made cameo appearances in the movies featuring other muppets. Despite his trash talk, he is the coolest character ever.
Fascinated with trash and a hoarder, Oscar was my misanthropic heartthrob. These imaginings were all deeply kept secret, but the idea of Oscar as the outcast became a model for a lover. I am still very much into facial hair, exactly because it reminds me of ticklish green fur.