In my most recent Monday Movie Meme post, I mentioned that I have a thing for puppets. As I look around my immediate surroundings at this very moment, I can see one sitting across from me. And I'm in our family room. My puppets don't stay stashed away.
Now don't misunderstand. I'm not a freak with a collection of puppets surrounding me in every room. I just happen to have a very sweet looking goat puppet with dangling legs who sings the funniest version of "The Lonely Goatherd" from The Sound of Music that you ever did hear each time you make its mouth move. It sits next to the TV near our DVD collection so I feel it is appropriate decoration. Andy has long learned to overlook such things.
My collection of puppets is largely due to my mother, who embraces all things bizarre and encourages their development within her children. Andy made the mistake of mentioning to her how the tree frogs keep him awake at night every time we visit their home. Now every year he gets something frog related in his stocking or for his birthday. No more frogs please Mom! So of course it makes sense that when my mother found a comedic Sound of Music singing puppet, she bought it as a treasured gift for me. She recognized my rad puppeteer skills from an early age.
I have always had a flair for the dramatic. I'm just not very talented. Which is why puppets are a big draw. When I was a little girl, I would put on puppet shows for my very patient parents who were seated at the bottom of the stairs. At the top was a dutch door. The top portion would be swung open to signal the beginning of the performance. I would then drag my little brother into the act - not because he had any talent whatsoever but because I needed the extra arms - and we would put on a grand puppet show, scripted entirely by myself. Since my brother couldn't read yet, it was up to me to feed him his lines, as well as coordinate the movement of his puppets and get him to be more into the characters. Honestly, I might as well have done things myself - he was more trouble than it was worth. It was not uncommon for these shows to end with him chucking a puppet over the door and send it tumbling down to my parents' feet.
I used to love to make sock puppets, decorate brown bag puppets, try to maneuver marionettes and create more convincing ways to make them move. I still have some of those old creations sitting in a basket of stuffed animals in our guest room. I notice that our young overnight guests are always drawn to these puppets too. There is just something about having an expressive outlet I guess.
If I see puppets in a vendor cart or toy store display, I can't help myself. I must drop everything and play. I don't care what they are - animals, people, creatures - plain old socks. It isn't their look that draws me in, but the possibility of making them come alive with whatever features, mannerisms and voice of my choosing that gives me joy.
When traditional puppets are in short order, I have been known to convert regular items into my mouthpieces. One Christmas day, with the magnificent vocals of Phantom of the Opera blaring from my parents' stereo (I am assuming the soundtrack was a gift - why else would that have been playing that day?) as I lounged on the floor in front of the fireplace hearth, I reached up and grabbed a few of the large soldier nutcrackers that my mother had put out as festive decorations for the season. These nutcrackers make terrific puppets, especially for opera singers, let me tell you! I entertained my family for a short while with that performance and it is still a requested routine. Make the nutcrackers sing, Molly!
Finger puppets are a special weakness - I have a friend and former co-worker who mailed one to me recently at my office to help pass the day. They are so compact, simple, affordable and fun. One for each finger is more than my heart can bear to wish for. But let me tell you, flipping off an unruly caller on the phone with a pink elephant on your middle finger is a great stress reliever, so I'm fine with just one finger puppet if need be.
I love them. All shapes, sizes, styles and designs. And I will confess, if I could get away with being a freak and decorating my home with puppets I probably would. But in an effort of great restraint, I only keep my lonely goatherd puppet on display in the family room. My mother knows me well, puppets are the gifts that keep on giving in the Bumble household. I like to torture the cat with the puppet goatherd's singing every now and then, or to make Andy chuckle. Spontaneous puppet shows are the best kind, after all.