Sunday, February 20, 2011

Treading on thick ice

We’ve finally hit the exact week in winter where the cabin fever has become so severe that I’m tempted to escape from our house by running through the living room wall like the Kool-Aid pitcher. I’d do it, too, but the living room wall just leads into the kitchen, so I’m still tweaking that plan.

All around us, you can see signs of captivity-induced insanity beginning to set in. Last weekend, I saw a neighborhood kid riding a bike around his front yard, on top of a foot of snow. The horrible layer of ice that has otherwise prevented any fun from happening since mid-January kept him from falling through, but I still expected him to vanish at any moment, the way our dog occasionally does when she’s out for a pee.

I have to give credit to the dog for remaining housebroken through this winter. If I fell through the floor every time I stepped into the bathroom, the dining room carpet would start to look pretty inviting.

“Finally, it’s not so cold out here,” I thought last week, standing on the deck in a sweater, waiting for Memphis to return from her visit to the permafrost powder room. Upon re-entering the house, I checked the weather app on my iPod to see how warm it had gotten. It was 13 degrees outside. I rebooted the iPod only to get the same response, which clearly indicated that between me and the iPod, there was some fried circuitry somewhere.

Our toddler Evan has taken to hanging out in the laundry room, the final frontier in a house in which he has drained every single object of its entertainment potential, from Potato Heads to dish towels. For us, this is a welcome reprieve from his frolicking in the dog’s water bowl, which he treats like his own personal Wildwater Kingdom.

Another discovery he’s made recently is the TV. My wife Kara and I have tried to keep him away from it for as long as we could, but during these long winter weekends, much like Simon and Garfunkle’s boxer, there were times when we were so strung out, we took some comfort there. “There” being Sesame Street, of course.

I’m impressed with how little Sesame Street has changed since I was a kid. It’s a little funkier and the effects are better, but the idea’s the same. The biggest change is the appropriation of almost the entire show by Elmo, who is, from what I understand, the love child of Grover and a Snuggie.

“Don’t worry. You just sit back and relax. Elmo will raise your child for you. Ha ha ha!” he says, in our minds.

Big Bird, who used to be the star of Sesame Street, is lucky if gets a cameo anymore. In the dressing room after the show, I picture Elmo tapping Big Bird on the shoulder and saying, “Elmo ruined your career! Ha ha ha.”

Kara and I are well aware that allowing your kid to watch too much TV during the first couple of years increases their chances of having ADD down the road, but we’re not sure what the implications are if your child already has the attention span of a goldfish.

“Hey, look Evan, they’re all learning how awesome sharing can be,” I’ll say, not noticing that I’m the only one still watching the show, and Evan is in the kitchen, putting the remote control in the recycle bin.

In any event, the most recent forecasts show that we might soon have the chance to emerge from the indoors, rubbing our eyes and breathing in air that doesn’t make our respective nostrils freeze together. If not, the next column might be brought to you by the number 1,000, which is how many miles south we’ll be moving.

You can fully winterize Mike Todd at


  1. Thanks for the update on Sesame Street. It's been quite a while since I last caught the show.

    I recently learned who the puppeteer/voice is behind Elmo and was quite surprised. I never imagined that a linebacker-size black man is the voice of the cute, furry little puppet. A documentary about the guy was even premiered at Sundance this year.

  2. PS: For any of Mike's followers looking for some interesting photography to balance all of his great writing, visit my blog at:

    (shameless plug)

  3. HiLARious! I now have visions of Memphis plunging into snowbanks and E-dawg splashing around and pinging off the walls all dancing through my head like sugar-plums. xo

  4. Jered - Thanks man! I'd actually be a little concerned if you were all caught up on your Sesame Street, like when Perlson used to get drunk and watch Noggin by himself. Also, excellent plug for yourself. Do you have any Cutco knives you'd like to show us? (Your photos are excellent, btw.)

    Ames - Awesome! And maybe I shouldn't be complaining about winter to the Swiss girl.

  5. No less than 3 days ago, all our snow had melted, the daffordils were poking their green heads out of the ground. This morning, I'm looking at 10 inches of fresh snow...another no school day (God Help Me), and the words "Significant accumulations" in the forecast for Thursday and Friday. The thought of Elmo's voice sounds pretty good, compared to seeing ONE.MORE.EPISODE of Pokemon.

  6. tims_mom - You just made me feel so much better about Sesame Street. And our weather, actually. Have you ever thought about motivational speaking?