I'm not sure why the CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] chose me. But they did. I received word that they wanted to film a clip for Sesame Street about a blind boy. Was I interested? Is President Bush fond of pretzels?, of course I was interested. And so the arrangements were made, my teacher made arrangements to require a substitute so she wouldn't have to get filmed, and we were off.
They arrived around noon at our school. They wanted to show me at play in the playground. So I ran out to the horses (you know, those wooden things that moved back and forth, offering splinters in your butt that were so much more fun than your average, run-of the-mill splinters), the swings, and the monkey
bars. It was on (or rather, off) the latter that the first mishap of the day occurred. After completing whatever stunt it was that I was wowing my audience with (moving from point A to point B, I think it was), I mounted the ladder, ready to head down. I didn't realize that there was someone on the ladder
already. Unable to grab the side bar with my left hand, I spun around counter clockwise, lost the grip of my right hand, and did an impressive back-flip onto the nice soft shale at the bottom. The helpful response of the cameraman? "You weren't supposed to do that."
I then spent the afternoon reading aloud, doing simple math with my abacus, and preparing to go home.
I always came home from school on the bus with my brother. But for this event, my brother would get off of the bus just before the driveway and hide behind the trees, and it would be my cousin who accompanied me. For twenty years I was indignant, feeling it was very unfair of the Sesame Street people to cut my brother out of the action like this. It was only recently that I learned that my brother (a teenager at the time) just didn't want to be seen on Sesame Street. We did the getting off the bus scene three times, I guess so we could get just the right level of spontaneity or something. Then it was off to feed the rabbits, who were about as happy to be on Sesame Street as my brother, then feed a lamb (I didn't have a lamb, but we borrowed one from my cousin - or as I referred to him in the ensuing dialog, "my cousin ... his brother."). To round things off, I demonstrated my ability to play the organ, an example which was to music what Vogon Poetry is to poetry (see The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy).
Following this, they conducted an interview. They used the answers to my questions to compose a running commentary during the three minute-or-so clip that they put together with all this. Then they gave me some Big Bird postcards for my trouble, and they were off.
Now, this little piece actually got a fair amount of airtime. They played it in Canada at least a dozen or more times in the ensuing years. A friend of my dad's saw it in a hotel room in Chicago, and a friend of mine actually saw the piece while he was in Japan. I've even been stopped on the street as an adult, and asked if I was ever on Sesame Street.
Of course, something like this doesn't help a young kid in the friend-making department. The immature attitude of some of the kids around me, combined with my own immature attitude (if anything, less mature than the others) produced some animosity for the short term. But all in all, it was a wonderful
experience, and, much as I enjoy making fun of it, I'm very proud of it.