A friend posted a wonderful article today that really touched a chord for me. Finally, some answers. And be sure to click on some of these links for some real Muppet high jinx and fun.
After years of trying to figure out what makes me so… well… crazy, the verdict is in: I’m a Chaos Muppet. Based on Dahlia Lithwick’s wonderful article, (read this now:) Chaos Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppet Types (in Slate), there is finally a brilliant, scientific explanation for all the things that make me so nuts, that I can really embrace. I’m an Ernie living with Bert. I’m the Swedish Chef cooking for Big Bird (a tall, affable Order Muppet if I ever knew one). I’m Miss Piggy lovin’ on her Kermit, and producing a mixed-Muppet brood (Principessa and Middle Man are pretty clearly Order Muppets, with some genetic Chaos, and Little Man is 100% Chaos). I can now see that I’ve been running into ABC-123-cookie crumbling-beaker exploding-walls for far too long. I just didn’t know that I’m simply a Chaos Muppet, admiring and aspiring to fit in with all the Order Muppets I watch from the sidelines. It explains pretty much everything that has kerfluffled me for so long.
The Order Muppet moms always seem to have their kids’ schedules worked out, carpools organized, the right book covers/pens/notebooks/calculators (before they’re sold out), their kids’ social networks in line with their family ties, and they generally look good whenever I see them. They know when the early release dates are, and have them on their calendars, before school starts in the fall. Chaos moi is baffled each time my baby Elmos come home early, inevitably on a day I have plans. My kids are forever getting reminders to get their text books covered, while I try to remember or Google the perfect method for covering a book, something that my Order Muppet classmates figured out when we were in junior high and high school. My mother was a Chaos Muppet too. So while I admired and expired to be like the mother’s who had it all down, I have long been a Chaos girl who tries to be an Order Muppet.
I love Order. Those who know me would agree that I certainly aspire to a certain level of it. My linen closet is always neat and organized, until my kids come home in the summer. I love to see things in clear, air-tight containers in my pantry. My closet is filled with matching hangers that don’t leave shoulder indents and from which my clothes can’t slide off. It took me years to find the right hangers and convert my closet over to them. In a rare departure from our genetic make-ups, Smart Guy is satisfied with plastic and dry cleaner wire, so our closet halves don’t match. I like all of my towels folded a very specific way and my earrings hung up, not thrown in a bin. Is this not Order? Doesn’t that sound a wee bit Kermit to you? A teeny bit Bert?
But then there’s my office: a beacon of disorderly chaos. I don’t even let people in. The piles of papers that gather on counter tops and tables, while I try to figure out what I want to do with them, are endless. No, don’t just throw that in recycling! I cry out to Smart Guy (who would put every scrap of mail in recycling the minute it arrives), I want to look at it. He shakes his head and adds it to a pile, and I throw it in recycling a few weeks later, when I still haven’t gotten to it. No! Don’t just throw away that sleeping bag (from 1979), I tell Smart Guy, after he explains that it isn’t even warm anymore. I will take it to the Homeless Camp out behind Fred Meyers. Someone could at least sit on it. (I will do that.) To his credit, my Kermit puts it in the donation pile with minimal argument, as we work on balance. (This video is a perfect example of how we work together.)
I am perpetually creating more chaos, in my
misguided desire to be more Kermit like. I
adore my aunt, who is the ultimate Order Muppet. There is no place I can think of that is more calming and nurturing, or ultra orderly, than her home. Nothing out of place, everything labeled and tidy. Yet as much as I admire it, my Chaos genes are too strong, and the Elmo in me comes wiggling out the minute–> I get home. My suitcase remains unpacked for weeks, conceivably until I’m traveling again; my dirty clothes remain in a pile at the base of my dresser, until I put them all in the hamper… Despite the orderly hangers looking on in disgust.
It’s the balance that makes Muppet Theory work and that’s the part I need to embrace and work on. So my kids don’t always have book covers; they have all gone to good colleges (so far) and are remarkable, interesting people. My office is a nightmare, but I’m a good and loyal friend, who is bound to hug you firmly and drag you out for some mischief. My counters may have piles, but my colorful walls are covered with bold artwork and my house is inviting and comfortable (if you ignore the piles or projects that need doing). My kitchen may be a mess, but the meal I make will taste damned good, because I love to cook. I was never the orderly cook who wiped her counters as she went along, or who put the mess directly in the sink or dishwasher. I’m the shove-one-mess- over-so-I-can-create-another on the counter Muppet… but again, it will taste great!
I admit to wanting more Order in my life, and struggling to fit into a world that admires Order over Chaos. People tend to think the Elmos, Ernies, Grovers (my personal favorite Chaos dude), Cookie Monsters and Miss Piggies of the world are funny, amusing, cute even… but it’s the Big Birds, the Berts, the Sams and ultimately: the Kermits- the logical, calm and reasonable Muppets, that people really listen to. Those are the Muppets that we believe make sense, while the others- the Chaos Muppets are just silly entertainment. Though that balance in my life is an on-going challenge that I struggle to make peace with, perhaps it really is the Chaos and the Order, side by side that works.
Perhaps if I was better at seeing the Ernie in Smart Guy, or better yet the Kermit, I would be less likely to feel so frustrated? So annoyed? I’d know that it’s not easy being green, and I might be less quick to those other emotions. If he could see the Ernie, the Elmo, The Cookie Monster and Miss Piggy in me, he might laugh at my crazy, determined, chaotic ways? Seems to me that Muppet Theory could add a whole lot of warm and fuzzy perspective to the issues that trouble me most. Principessa recently told me that I was “the most outrageous, inappropriate person she knows.” It should be noted that she said this with a smile, but I knew that she meant every word. I wasn’t sure whether to celebrate or hang my head in shame. It also made me question who she spends her time with… I’m of the (prejudiced) mindset that she definitely needs a bit more Cookie in her life… and I’m not talking about the gluten free variety. Considering her comment in relation to this important new psychological profiling, if I’m a combination of Elmo and Miss Piggy, her pronouncement makes a lot more sense. If I’m just unstable and provocative, it’s a bit more troubling.
It’s so much clearer to me now, why I never really got Bert, Oscar, Skooter, or Sam the Eagle. They bored me. Though I certainly understood them, I mostly wanted to ruffle their feathers and see them let loose a little. Big Bird was always cute, but not exciting enough; he didn’t hold my attention. That said, I totally enjoy Elmo, but he gets on my nerves… as I do with the Order Muppets in my life. Cookie is so obviously over the top, but who doesn’t want to shove all the cookies in their mouths sometimes? The Count may epitomize Order and sensibility as he counts and categorizes his world, but I always connected with his maniacal laugh and loss of control, when he finally hit that final number. The counting itself bored me: only a means to crazy end. And what about Kermit? He’s a whole other Muppet. Who doesn’t love Kermit? Seriously. I may have wanted to shake him up, but undoubtedly, Kermit charms me every time. That may be why
I Miss Piggy keeps plugging along with Smart Guy Kermit. He’s attractive for the Order he brings, and irresistible because he almost always loses it a little… keeping me Miss Piggy on her toes, and in balance.
The Muppet Theory also explains the attraction to certain friends and friendships. As a Chaos girl, I need the balance of my Kermit, Bert, Sam friends, but would lose my mind without my fellow Ernie, Elmo, Cookie, Miss Piggy pals. We shake things up, while the others bring order back to the disheveled mess we create. Balance, it’s critical. As much as I need to embrace a little more Order in my life, I would feel flat and lost without the Chaos. It would keep me from breaking out and singing opera when I’m being silly, or belly dancing when I shouldn’t be. I probably wouldn’t say some of the outrageous things I do, if I was an Order Muppet. The little voice of Kermit reason would warn me to zip it more often. I might be more even, more status quo, but I’d probably lose some of the edge that makes me me. Again, balance: it’s critical. I’ll continue to work towards bringing a little more Order to my life, while encouraging some playful Chaos in those around me. I’ll work to clean that office and sort the piles, but I’m probably going to keep shoveling cookies (or Cheez Its) in my mouth for years to come. I’m just that kind of Muppet.
What kind of Muppet are you? And how is that working for you? Which is your favorite Muppet and why? What kind of Muppet is your partner? Does it work? Share your thoughts in the comment section. Then take your Muppet fingers and hit the Like button at the bottom of this post, and I’ll do a happy little Elmo dance. (One more time: click on the title of this post, and the comments will be at the bottom, along with Like/Share)