You ever meet someone you knew a long time ago who hasn’t changed at all? Someone who’s living in the past, someone who could have done great things? Hi. My name is Cookie Monster, and I’m that friend. I’ve spent my entire existence being hyper-transfixed on one particular snack, a snack that’s evolved. It’s like I was living under a rock, a rock-hard chocolate chip cookie that’s been baked too long that I could barely chew with my non-existent teeth. At this point it’s clear that cookies, as a sector, has innovated to great lengths. Oreos, cookie cakes, snickerdoodles…even those plain biscuit cookies that grandmas dip in their coffee I’ve heard aren’t half bad if you’re desperate. But why haven’t I evolved with the industry?
I think a reason I didn’t branch out was my career and its insane workload. I was always putting my career ahead of my own personal development. Filming Sesame Street was demanding, to say the least. I was clocking nearly 15 hours a day just doing brainstorming research on what the letter of the day would be for the next episode. H? T? A lot of thought went behind these choices. Many people working in the biz don’t know this, but there’s actually 26 total letters. The stress of this alone drove me to binge-eat the only thing I had ever eaten in my entire life—chocolate chip cookies. After a grueling day at work each day, some consistency in my schedule was the only thing I had to rely on. And so I chomped on.
Looking back, it was clear I was typecast in the show. But I’ll never forget the time I realized I was typecast in my own life. I was out on the town with some of the cast and crew. Ellen DeGeneres was our celebrity guest, and we were grabbing a late dinner after the show. I ordered my usual from the dessert menu, and when my meal arrived, I ate them as I usually do—with my saliva flying everywhere and crumbs hitting the faces of other patrons. Ellen—and I’m still unsure if I’m thankful she said something or devastated how deeply she embarrassed me—said, “Hey, Cook. Slow down there, Pillsbury Doughboy, you want to try one of my asparagus? You have to expand your horizons like I did. I went from preaching kindness to berating my staff. That’s change, Cook.”
After I got that wake up call from Ellen, I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. I felt disgusted. I was suddenly seeing myself as I truly was for the first time. My two eyes are at the center of the top of my forehead, I have no nose, and there’s cookie crumbs all over me. Frankly, I didn’t only feel like a monster. Even Elmo took some classes at the community college, and here I was, eating the same cookies, completely missing my mouth sometimes. Perhaps, the real monster was my fear of branching out to other kinds of desserts. Heck, even other foods. Maybe even a vegetable because let’s face it, all of these cookies have not been helping my cholesterol levels. What am I so afraid of anyway? There’s other foods that start with ‘C’. Carrots, curry, even cocaine, but who am I if I’m not eating cookies? Just an unidentifiable pathetic, blue furry creature with a raspy voice.
But can I really help it? I was doomed from the start. My name was Cookie Monster, I had no creative control. These streets of Sesame, they raised me. I’m a product of my environment. When your only role model is a literal Big Bird, there’s only so many healthy habits you can develop. Most of the people I surrounded myself with would put me down or were just plain unhelpful. Like Oscar The Grouch had such an awful attitude and Bert and Ernie were more concerned about cleanliness. Really, the only person that taught me anything was the Count, but I only knew how many cookies I ate. I just wish the Count was named ‘the Nutritionist’ because just one helpful person could have steered me in the right direction. But after a lot of therapy from celebrity guests, I think it’s time to leave these streets and see the world and all the food it has to offer.
Am I scared to leave Sesame Street? Yeah, there’s a reason why there’s a ‘C’ in comfort zone and I’ve been in my comfort zone for over 50 years. But I can’t stand the crumbs and the stomach aches anymore. And guess what? Today I tried a new ‘C’ food, a cannoli. I threw up immediately, but as my head hung over the toilet, I couldn’t help but feel proud. C is the letter of the day and from now, that ‘C’ stands for Change.
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