I Have Always Hated Charlie McCarthy

This is Phil the Cuckoo Bird. At least that is what Cooper calls him. I had a different name for him once upon a time, which I have long since forgotten. I purchased this puppet for some inexplicable reason, on a business trip to Indianapolis. Perhaps something in me knew that 6 years and two husbands later I would have a child who would fall in love with this puppet and begin torturing me.

Part of this is Jack’s Big Music Show’s fault. They have an episode that features Phil the Cuckoo Bird, who looks remarkably like this puppet. Once Cooper saw that show, he began calling our puppet by that name, and insisting that our Phil do all of the things that THAT Phil did.

Specifically, he wants it to talk, ALL THE TIME, in a southern accent, and fall down. He wants ME to make him talk. I am now constantly berated to “MAKE HIM TALK MOMMY” and then a fuzzy pink bird lands in my lap.

I will admit that when I make Phil fall down, which involves him flipping over on his back and plopping down on the couch/bed/whatever we are sitting on, and Cooper dissolves into gasps of laughter, it is probably one of the best parts of my day. But I really hate making him talk. At the end of a work day where I have been listening to students and parents tell me how they cannot afford to pay their balance, or are indignant that they have stop on their account because they haven’t followed the directions they were given 5 times in the last 3 months in writing that would have resolved their issues, I find it hard to focus my addled brain long enough to have a conversation as myself with The Bob and Cooper, nevermind find the energy and creativity to be someone else.

I have tried hiding Phil. Short of throwing him out altogether, which right now I don’t have the heart to do, I have not been successful in hiding him long term. Cooper has this amazing capacity for not using something for months, even almost a year, and then for no reason that we can discern, he will exclaim “Where is such and such.” Then we spend 20 minutes wondering what is he talking about, and another 20 minutes finding the thing he is seeking once we do figure it out. This time he found Phil on his own. It was in a big bag of stuffed animals, and suddenly there he was, in my lap, and I was being instructed to make him talk, please. (Side note: There are more “pleases” being said in our lives these days. Day care almost paid for itself.)

I wonder if Edgar Bergen ever felt this way about Charlie McCarthy. I have heard stories about the puppet being a member of the family, to the point that it sat at the dinner table with the family, but who knows how much of that is true. Did Edgar ever want to just put that puppet in a drawer and go be a shoe salesman? Put him the composter and call it a day? Let a certain Schnauzer known for his destructive destuffing of stuffed animals have his way with him? Did I say that out loud?

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