Brought to You by a Massive Recall of the Letter “F”

You know, I could have slept in this morning. I really could have. And the thing is, I wanted to. Desperately. But being this weird animal called a “grown-up,” I have a little gremlin that lives in my brain and whispers to me of all the things I could do if I just got out of bed. I am perfectly capable of willfully ignoring him, but some days I can’t quite get back to sleep through his muttering, so my choices are to either get up and do stuff or stay in bed and get neither sleep nor stuff done.


So, I got up. And by ten o’clock, I had done two loads of laundry, washed the dishes, practiced my guitar for a long while, and baked a batch of cookies. Those I’m quite proud of, by the way. Imagine Ben&Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk as a cookie, more or less. No pecans or dark chocolate, but otherwise, same principal. I’m calling them Boston Fudgy Gauntlet cookies, partially because your teeth and tongue have a lot of nut navigating to do, and partially because I ran a bit of a gauntlet making them. On that subject, however, all I have to say is that if you accidentally unplug your handheld beater while mixing, make sure that either the switch is off or the beaters are in the bowl when you plug the thing back in. Did I mention these are 20% reduced fat? (Give or take a splatter.)


I wasn’t really reconciled to not being able to sleep in, so to console (and instruct) my whiny child, I popped in some Fraggles to keep me company while I was folding laundry and waiting for the oven. I had to wonder, as I watched Mokey and Red trick the avalanche monster and escape the singing cactus, why I have such a strong connection to these funny muppets. It wasn’t the first time this week they’ve come up. John and I were playing a silly word game we often do as we walked home from our new favorite coffee shop on Saturday, which led us to wonder how to apply the game to “Snuffleupagus.”


You all remember Snuffy, right? From Sesame Street? He is perhaps the sweetest, coziest television character in my memory, and John remembers him fondly too. Only, John remembers him as “Snuffleufagus.” A small sound difference, but one that made a difference to our game. Our conversation went something like this:


Me: “I think it would be snuffuffleupagus, right?”

John: “Wait, don’t you mean snuffuffleufagus?”

Me: “No. Why would I? It’s snuffleupagus, so you’d take the first syllable starting at the vowel, ending at the consonant and repeat it, right?”

John: “Yes, but wait—you say snuffleupagus? Isn’t it snuffleufagus?”

Me: “No.”

John: (Incredulous) “Seriously?”

Me: “I’m pretty sure. I mean, I’ve done enough babysitting that it hasn’t been that long since I’ve seen Sesame Street. I’m pretty sure it’s snuffleupagus.”

John: “My whole world is just shaken here. I can’t believe I have that wrong.”

Me: “We could call the Henson Company and ask them to change it, if you want. You know, have them go back and recall thirty years of videos, books, and sundry products so they can make the edit. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.”

John: “Ha. This episode brought to you by a massive recall of the letter ‘f.”


Of course, the more times we uttered the word “snuffleupagus,” the more I began to question myself. Memory is funny that way. By the time we got home, I was sickeningly sure that John’s memory was the correct one, and I understood his angst. It’s deeply unsettling to think you misremembered the name of a beloved childhood icon. The nice thing about the internet, of course, is that we were able to resolve the question easily once we got home. (It’s snuffleupagus, if you’re wondering.)


Anyway, watching the Fraggles today on top of having a more or less brilliant run of competence since this morning (well, pretending the beater thing never happened anyway), I got it into my head that I can totally take on the impossible silliness of Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, without annotation (somebody had to do at least once, right?), so I picked it up from the library on my way up to work. Now, however, I am seriously questioning that decision. Not so much because I’ve cracked the book and suddenly realized I’m actually next best thing to illiterate as far as Joyce is concerned, but because I’m having a fox-and-crane problem with eating my carrot sticks as I write this, and it’s making me reconsider my dubious self-perception of competence.


I’m sorry, did I say I was a grown-up? I may need to issue a recall on that statement.

4 thoughts on “Brought to You by a Massive Recall of the Letter “F”

  1. You know what’s weird? I was eating carrot sticks as I read this. Is that one of those funky sister-connection moments? I think you two are very funny and laughed seriously at the idea of a massive recall of the letter “f”.
    Your cookies sound delicious! We made apple pie in baking class today. I have yet to dig into it, but my mouth is watering as it sits cooling on my kitchen counter. Yum yum yum.
    P.S. If you had a blackberry, you could have settled the spelling dispute instantly without waiting to get home. Just sayin’. ;)


  2. Snuffleufagus/Snuffleupagus
    After much self-debate and chastisement I have to ‘fess up’ that John’s misunderstanding in this weighty matter was probably highly influenced by his mother. I always referred to the furry beast as Shuffleufagus.
    I will argue, however, for the continuance of that name as a learned connection to childhood. Heaven forbid that John start referring to me as Brenda or Declan ever stop calling me Nana. The furry beast will always be Snuffleufagus in memory. My apologies to J. H. (Did he create Snuffy?) This is also an argument in favor of not being grown up all the time:)


  3. “learned connections to childhood”
    John and I probably have more than a few of these thanks to our mother and father, as do we all…
    1.) your hair will grow faster if you let me cut it.
    2.) Milk toast is cold white bread with cold white milk poured directly on top.
    3.) All the sheep in that field fit in that little house
    4.) Jimmy Carter lives in a Tee-Pee in the woods behind our house.
    (OK, 3 and 4 may actually be my own muddled thinking as a 5 year old.)
    Melissa, I have to say that reading your posts allows me to see in my minds eye the perfect re-enactment of your conversation with my brother. I can see his facial expressions and his hand gestures as if I was there. I just can’t express how perfectly made for each other you two seem to be. It’s truly fun to have this little voyeuristic glimpse into your life!!!
    I’ll maintain my stance that “Snuffy” was a significantly changed character once the “grown-ups” could see him and realized he was real, not imaginary. It wasn’t as much fun. Another argument for not being a grown up all the time.


  4. P.S. Perceptions
    Accepting all comments about the sentimental value of childhood memories as true and comforting and precious, I still have to add a little more to the story. John came across Stephen Lynch’s song “Jim Henson’s Dead” (which can be heard here: this week and shared it with me, following the great Mr. Snuffleupagus debate. He insisted, at first, that Mr. Lynch shared his pronunciation of the fondly remembered imaginary friend, but on a close second listening had to concede that he had misremembered that as well. This is actually an interesting thing about memory, I think, and how expectations determine what we perceive and recall…


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