I started following Fozzie Bear on Twitter. Settle down—I didn’t actively seek him out, nor did the decision come lightly. It was early morning, around 5 o’clock. I was at my desk, wrestling with the second draft of my novel. After fighting with a comma and moving it around a sentence for fifteen minutes, I was exhausted and needed a break. I have been known to spend a perverse amount of hours wasting time when I should be writing, which is why I’ve installed a number of fancy and complicated websites to lock me out of the internet. I’ve now figured out ways to break back in to each. When you work from home, isolation can be a problem. It’s crucial to check in with friends, both real and the ones who don’t know you exist but would absolutely be your best friend if they did. It’s called staying connected, and I’m allowed. It was during my first internet breach of the morning that Fozzie’s face appeared in the Who To Follow section on Twitter.
I run with a few different crowds: Literary Twitter, Broadway Twitter, Newsy Twitter, TV Twitter, and 70s Dinner Party Food Twitter. It’s not a deal-breaker if you don’t fall into one of these categories, but they do represent my interests and shouldn’t there be commonality between pals? Technically, Fozzie fell into the TV division, but those friends were more creator/writer types, not performers, and I don’t often make exceptions. This ruling had potential to get hairy. On one hand, Muppets were Muppets and who didn’t love Muppets but on the other, more friends meant more tweet-reading and clearly I was already very busy. In order for Fozzie to sit with me at lunch, he’d need to offer something of time-wasting value other than his good name and polka-dotted tie.
As his account loaded, I hoped it wouldn’t be entirely dopey jokes, that he’d use the allotted 280 characters for something other than his default bad-humor-as-defense mechanism. Yes, I realized he was a vaudevillian comic and his whole reason for being was schtick, but I already followed 2568 friends and am judicious about whom I let in. The tweet at the top of the page read:
Who is Santa’s favorite singer to listen to while delivering presents?? Give up? It’s obviously Elf-is! Ahhhhhh! And I bet his favorite song is “Love Me Tinsel.”
This was not good. More upsetting was his use of #WockaWocka.
Before tackling this Muppet Sophie’s choice, it seemed necessary to confirm that the tweet in question belonged to the actual Fozzie, and not some groupie or imposter because I wasn’t about to get involved with a phony. This brought up the question why people even set up fan accounts but I punted that query for another day.
Turned out, Fozzie was indeed Fozzie, blue check and all. He was the bona fide Muppet, not to be confused with @Fozzies_travels, an account where a stuffed Fozzie travels the world, eating pho in Hanoi or wearing clogs in the Hague, reporting back in photographs. (The account was pretty endearing and I briefly considered becoming friends with the guy but he traveled the globe and I’m afraid to fly.) There was an @UTFOZZIE but he was just a guy searching for the perfect BLT, nothing to do with Muppets at all. Regrettably, there was an @ALT-RIGHT FOZZIE BEAR in the mix. He looked like official Fozzie but wore a Make America Great Again cap, and all his tweets ended with a hashtagless MAGA! MAGA! This was more than I could bare. Or bear. #WockaWocka.
The real Fozzie joined Twitter in 2015, a year after I signed up. I have 522 followers. He has 91,000. I understand he’s a muppet icon, but still. His profile pic featured the traditional half-opened muppet mouth, and signature pork pie hat. His fur looked terrific. What I couldn’t ignore was the iPhone he held in his four fingers. Hostility began to bubble. It felt false. No way would Fozzie have a cell phone. Scooter, maybe. He had acts to book, and needed to be in constant contact with Kermit. Kermit would absolutely have a phone but he’d keep the ringer off which would drive Miss Piggy absolutely mad. Piggy would have a glittery phone case. Kermit’s would be clipped to a belt of some sort but, aside from the occasional costume or banjo, I wasn’t sure he accessorized. I took a short detour to confirm.
In most of the images I found, Kermit was naked save for that triangular thing around his neck, which I often wondered about but was too embarrassed to ask in case it was some frog anatomy I was supposed to be aware of, so I looked up “What is Kermit wearing around his neck” which yielded many results along with a surprising amount of Muppet forums, three of which I bookmarked for later. Some people thought the collar was a lily pad, but, wouldn’t you know, it’s not even frog-related! Something about how Kermit was amorphous when first introduced, but I glazed over the rest of the paragraph until I landed on the fact that he wore TWO collars in the early 70s televised version of The Muppet Frog Prince, a show I adored and used to watch (and reenact) with my fourth grade best friend Stephanie Mclean, so I went to Facebook to see what she was up to.
With seven tabs now in play, I returned to Fozzie. Scroll, scroll, scroll. Bad joke, terrible pun. And then,
Happy Thanksgiving! Im spending today with my Ma and the whole Bear family. We’re eating, joking, and having a great time! It’s great to get together before hibernation season starts.
Aha! Now we have a ballgame, I said out loud to no one. Not only did he use an Oxford comma, but he provided some insight into the Bear family. If I’m being honest, the tweet was a nudge in the right direction but probably not enough to bring him on board. Sure, they were eating and laughing but was there anything else? Any discord at the Bear table? Where did Fozzie’s self-deprecation or need for constant adulation stem from? I scrolled back up to his background photo. In it, his oversized mauve eyelids were shut and he was resting peacefully, snuggled up to his mother, or what I thought was his mother because as far as I knew he wasn’t in a romantic relationship. The bear in question was gigantic and a completely different shade than Fozzie and then I questioned if that was even his mother at all, and then I wondered if that was racist.
Gee, it’s hard to believe November is almost over! Last year I thought it went on forever … more like “No-ender,” right? Ahhhhh!
Why were the board game’s rules hard to understand? Because they were a little dice-y! Ahhhhh! Im on a roll now! #WockaWocka
Why do squirrels and chipmunks love acorns so much? Maybe it’s becauseA-corns are better than B- and C- corns. Ahhhhh! Nutty, right?
What the heck happened to Fozzie? Had he always been like this? Were his jokes always this shitty? Did he ever talk about anything else, or was he that insufferable friend who was always on. Maybe Fozzie’s brand of comedy was better heard than read. Or, it’s possible I was expecting something unrealistic from his Twitter feed. Couldn’t the guy tweet whatever he wanted without being on some deranged trial, waiting for my verdict of follow or move on to Beaker? It’s not like Fozzie wanted to be friends with me, big deal if I let him join my gang. Like all my other supposed Twitter friends, he wouldn’t retweet or notice me, no matter what I wrote. Aren’t people forever saying that if a friend treats you lousy, he wasn’t a real friend in the first place? Did that line ever make anyone feel better? Fozzie wasn’t a rotten friend, he wasn’t a friend at all, he was a Muppet, for Christ’s sake. What did he care if I followed him. What did anyone in the Twitterverse care. Why was I even on Twitter? There were no shortage of time-suck websites. I was free to scroll and refresh anywhere I pleased. Like, say, Instagram. Wait—was Fozzie on Instagram?
For what it’s worth, there are a shit ton of Labradoodles named Fozzie. After looking and following most of their accounts, I landed on the real Fozzie Bear. There were only 4 posts. Instagram was not his venue. He did, however, have a hashtag. There was little time remaining for extensive sleuthing so I gave a cursory scroll but removed myself the instant I saw a photo of baby Fozzie because I didn’t have the bandwidth for the level of outrage Muppet Babies cause.
With the sun rising, I had a decision to make. In a matter of minutes, the rest of the household would wake, my writing hours squandered in the name of friendship. Okay, fine, avoidance. Procrastination. Whatever. I was probably being too hard on him. Nitpicky. Fozzie was just an old-fashioned guy trying to stay relevant in a new world, and that’s why he had a cell phone. He had a mother to call (I think). Maybe I didn’t need to use Twitter to get deep insight into his psyche.
I guess I was disappointed because I’d taken a Buzzfeed quiz that said Fozzie was my spirit animal. And, it’s true, I’ve always related to Fozzie. We both appreciate humor and look pretty good in hats, and I’ve often thought if I were a Muppet, he’s the one I’d be. But I forgot what a good mental disposition he had. Plus, his jokes kind of sucked. Maybe Buzzfeed got it wrong. Maybe I was more Gonzo. I was about to retake the quiz when I read,
When you’re a comedian, writer’s block is the worst. It’s been so impossible for me to come up with anything new, I got stuck halfway through writing my grocery list …What comes after bananas?
That’s when I made Fozzie my 2570th friend. I could handle the schlock, if, occasionally, he showed another layer. I reread his tweets with fresh, better attitude eyes. Jokes I originally labeled dumb now seemed amusing, and I experienced head-exploding joy at the photo of him and his friends riding bicycles, which is my all-time favorite way to see Muppets. Something about their legs gets me every time.
When I clicked on the follow button, 3 more Who To Follows showed up: Electric Mayhem, Rizzo the Rat, and Pepe the King Prawn. I couldn’t. Not that morning anyway. There’d be time to investigate those Muppets later. It was time to surface, to send the family out of the house so I could get back to being alone.
I’ve been hanging out at the water-cooler all day to tell my hilarious water-cooler talk jokes. Where is everybody??
Fozzie didn’t always use the #WockaWocka. He’d been known to stand around all day, alone, waiting for someone to talk to. We were going to get along just fine.