Many years ago I worked in Catalina, which at that time was a very small town north of Tucson. It was an outpost, you understand, where your boss sent you if he didn’t like you. The people were fine but the work hard. The customers understood and were very forgiving. The “business district” of town consisted of a Circle K, a hair salon, the Lariat Bar and Grill. One day while up there, a woman set up a yard sale in front of these businesses with toasters, linens, and various brick-a-brac. One item caught my eye.
It was a blue hand puppet of Ernie, a character, along with Bert, on Sesame Street. My daughter loved Sesame Street and especially “Bert and Ernie.” I brought it for about two dollars and brought it home unwashed and non-disinfected (little was known or understood by most of the dangers). My daughter was being put to bed when I got home. I entered her room and revealed Ernie’s presence. She smiled and started jumping up and down in her crib. I approached her with my hand in the doll and did my best imitation of Ernie’s voice. All I could remember was Ernie saying “Hey Bert.” That was enough.
Night after night she called for me to “Do Bert and Ernie. Please Daddy, do Bert and Ernie.” I watched Sesame Street a little more closely after that and picked up a few more phases but my vocal imitation was never up to par. But she never complained.
The Ernie puppet is gone now, along with My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake and Brownie her riding rocking horse. But occasionally, when visiting my daughter (who is now grown and a mother in her own right) I slip-up behind her and say, “Hey Bert.” She turns and with a huge smile on her face and a small tear in her eye and says, “Hi Ernie.”