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Why was I afraid of this as a child?

January 18, 2019, 1:16 PM

Remember this segment from Sesame Street episode 1578, where Gordon talks about rain?

For some reason, that segment, which I called “Gordon in a wig”, terrified me as a small child.  I watched it once, and apparently, didn’t like it.  After that first viewing, I would turn the television off whenever it came on.

A few years ago, I found the segment on YouTube, and gave it a watch.  As an adult, I thought it was hilarious.  Gordon is very passionately advocating on behalf of rain, and getting rained on inside of his office.  Considering the wig and the glasses, I imagine that he is spoofing someone, but I don’t know who.  (If someone knows, let me know.)

I suppose that this also shows how our memories are imperfect.  The segment that I saw as an adult is clearly the same one that I saw as a child, but it wasn’t quite as I remembered it.  I remember Gordon’s greeting of “Howdy, friends,” and an “it’s rain!” exclamation, but otherwise don’t remember hearing most of the talking as a child.  For some reason, I remember seeing Gordon sitting at a desk with that wig on, getting rained on, people coming in and standing with him, his saying that it’s rain, and then taking off his wig, wringing it out, and putting it back on.

I also didn’t remember the wig’s being this neat as a child:

Gordon near the beginning of the scene

I only remembered it like this, from near the end:

Gordon after having put his wig back on after wringing it out

Perhaps it was the plant behind Gordon’s head that made me remember the wig’s final look as existing throughout the show.  Who knows.  I also remember a much wider shot than it turned out to be.

But for some reason, all of this terrified me.  I suppose that this was too much for preschool-aged me to process at the time, with Gordon, who is normally bald, wearing a wig, rain indoors, people standing around him in the rain that’s happening indoors, and then finally taking the wig off, squeezing it out, and putting it back on.

It’s stuff like this that makes me glad that we have the Internet and all of the various things that it contains.  I went around with this segment burned into my memory for thirty years.  Over the years, I figured that it probably wasn’t nearly as bad as preschool-aged me made it out to be, but I had no way of seeing for myself.  When I found it on the Internet, I was delighted to find that it was really funny.  Sesame Street is good about throwing in some stuff to make it entertaining for the adults as well as the kids in order to encourage kids and parents to watch it together, and I suppose that this was one of those instances.  The educational content, after all, is for the kids.  Adults know that rain works hard to make it a better, wetter world, but the ridiculous situation that they put Gordon in made me laugh as an adult.

It’s also why I encourage everyone to seek out some of the media that they watched as a child, just to see what you think of it now as an adult.  My results have been mixed.  Some stuff is better appreciated as an adult, now that you’re old enough to get all of the jokes.  Pee-wee’s Playhouse is a good one in that regard, because that show threw in so much double entendre that sailed right over the kids’ heads, but the adults get it.  Then there’s some stuff that’s better left as a memory, like a lot of the old Care Bears stuff.  As a child, I used to eat that stuff right up.  But as an adult, it’s just not that good.  It didn’t talk down to the children, but it definitely was only for children, and not something that the parents could enjoy with them.  Past decades had crap television, too, after all.

In any case, I suppose that you should go out and support your local rainstorm.  Gordon is counting on you.

Categories: Television