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Saturday, August 25, 2012

We Say Thank You Mr. Jerry Nelson but not Good Bye.


People who are way too young to remember the old Sesame Street gang (which I lovingly call B.E. or Before Elmo), the name Count Von Count may not ring a bell.  But for me, growing up as a Third World kid watching a First World children show, the Count was one of my favorite characters.  Bert, Ernie and Big Bird were my first English teachers; Maria (Sonia Manzano), my first Spanish teacher; and Linda (Linda Bove), my first sign language teacher.  Oscar the Grouch validated my grouchiness as a kid, and that it is okay to stay in a confined space once in a while when you are grouchy. Oscar has his trash can; I had my old and empty television cardboard box. 


"Greetings, I am the Count.  
Do you know why they call 
me the Count? Because I love to 
count."  Use of Non-Free Media
Rationale. Click This
The Count also made it all right for me to do that distinctive vampire laugh after counting.  And when it was raining, my siblings and I would time our Count-style laugh so that once we did it, it would coincide with real thunder and lightning.  That was pure childhood elation.  It felt so powerful.  Ha-ha-ha…

It is indeed sad to learn of the passing of puppeteer Jerry Nelson, who voiced the Count.  I did not know who he was until his death.  But for me, he will always be the great Count who taught me simple math and the power of laughter.  I think Jerry Nelson did not truly leave us kids.  He still lives as the Count, the most beloved immortal vampire. The Count/Nelson will continue to teach us kids and kids-at-heart that it is fun to learn and laugh, and if you do them right, thunder and lightning will echo your efforts.

I have often said that I am a miseducated Filipino but watching Sesame Street was not one of the things that miseducated me.  In fact, Sesame Street taught me transcendence.  How can those blue, red, orange and purple puppets make me hate my own skin?  I also regularly see people who had the same skin color as my fellow Filipinos in Sesame Street.  I do not often see that in Filipino movies and television shows filled with fair-skinned celebrities with European blood.  

Sure, I learned English, the language of Imperial United States and Great Britain, but I was also a public school kid who grew up being adept in Filipino.  I did not see the two languages competing.  Most importantly, the Count and the rest of the Sesame Street gang taught me sense of humor.  For a child, laughter is laughter and if anything else, the old Sesame Street gang never treated me as a stupid kid.  It never talked down to me.

So, thank you Mister Jerry Nelson, the kid in me will truly miss you.  How much, let me count the ways: one, two, three, four, five and many more. Ha ha ha ha ha!

P.S.
If Bella had fallen in love with Count von Count instead of Edward, she would have been extremely happy, employed and well-loved.  It is not too late Bella. Ha ha ha ha ha!

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