Big Bird and the Jungle Underwear (Poetry, Memoir)
To Dad, Happy Father’s Day
To a six year old, the 12 foot statue of Big Bird
Towering in the middle of the department store
Looks as fearsome as any prehistoric beast
I am terrified of his massive size,
His eyes are black as hornet stingers.
I have nightmares about Big Bird coming to life,
The linoleum quakes beneath his massive orange feet
The classical music they play in the store, is lost
In the high-pitched furor of his tweet
Big Bird plucks me up as if I am a worm,
Opens his razor-sharp beak
Then hurls me into a tunnel of blackness…
I wake up kicking my legs against Big Bird’s fleshy tonsils
It was just a dream or was it?
A yellow feather escapes from beneath the covers,
Tickling my toes.
I don’t care if I wear the same socks and underwear
‘Til all that remains is a few stretched threads—
I am not going in that store
Until Big Bird is roasted and served with gravy!
Then one day, the inevitable happens,
“Time to get you some socks and underwear”
I begin to tremble from head to toe
Big Bird stands guard over the pink polka dotted panties,
He’d wait until Dad announces my size
Then decide I have grown just right, my stick thin body filling out
My clumsy feet now tearing holes through my socks
Yummm, tender morsel…
In one gulp, I’d be done for!
I am not going. No way.
I will wear my brother’s underwear if I have to!
Dad can’t understand why I am being so stubborn,
He thought little girls like to go shopping,
That he could bribe me with an ice-cream cone
I am not going, no way!
Well, I really like bubble gum ice-cream…
How about the cone with the chocolate chips….
Maybe I will dangle one toe into the store,
Squeeze my eyes shut and make a run for it.
As Dad and I walk into the store,
Big Bird’s massive head turns towards us,
His eyes fix onto me like poisonous stingers
A booming voice fills the room
“We’re going to get you some jungle underwear today.
You know, like Tarzan wears. How about size ‘gorilla’?”
I did not know anything could be worse than Big Bird,
Now Dad is embarrassing me in front of everyone
Talking about “jungle underwear”
I wish Big Bird would swallow me up!
I dash into a rack of clothes as Dad loudly proclaims
“You know Superman wears jungle underwear…”
When I peek out, Big Bird is laughing at me.
Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?,
I beg, I don’t think Mr. Hooper sells
Socks and underwear in his store,
I will be safe there.
Dad starts to whistle as he walks down the aisles,
Big Bird winks at me, opens one yellow wing wide
I hide in his downy softness,
While Dad picks out my “jungle underwear”.
Then Dad and I leave the store walking side by side,
I run to keep up with Dad’s long stride
The plastic bag of “jungle underwear” and socks
Bang against my hip with every small leap
I imagine the ice-cream cone that will soon be mine,
Topped with banana, popular in the jungle.
In Our Hearts, © 2010
I love you, Dad!
I inherited my gift of storytelling from my Dad, who is always making up funny stories and jokes.
Dad never knew how terrified I was of the Big Bird statue in the store (as a child), I would never admit it… I lost that fear when Dad started talking about “jungle underwear”. My Dad is always cracking jokes but with a straight face, so you tend to believe him until you are caught up in one of his tall tales!
My Dad is a wonderful grandfather to the kids. He sneaks them ice-cream for breakfast when he is babysitting, and lets Nora read to him all day (she is like a school teacher, ordering Grandpa to sit on the couch then piling up the books!). He plays board games with the kids and takes them to the library or garage sales. When I get home, the house is a mess, and everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else… It is the best feeling to sigh really loud, and act all stern (hiding a smile) and feel the sense of “home” surround me — worn in all the right places with love. Kids clean up. Make Grandpa a lunch for work (and put a cartoon inside his lunch bag just as he did for me as a child). Ready for another adventure?
I pray my kids will be able to see Grandpa, and the rest of the family soon. Circumstances have kept us apart but God will bring us back together (Isaiah 49). Happy Father’s Day Dad! And to my children, I love you always ❤
Entry filed under: Crazy Quilt: Writings & Reflections, Letters to My Kids. Tags: Big Bird, Childhood, Confession, creative writing, Dad, family, Father's Day, Ford Family, Ford/Fort, Grandparent, Happy Father's Day, Letter to My Father, memoir, parenting, Poetry, Sesame Street, Underwear.