Night of the Cheap Jive Jukebox

The Muppet Show was one of the staples I could count on watching when I was little. It started at 8 p.m. and ended half an hour later, which coincided with my bedtime. To this day I have fond memories of mahna-mahna, Harry Belafonte’s “Turn the World Around” and Pigs in Space. In just half an hour’s time, we got to know Gonzo, Scooter, Kermit, Miss Piggy. Fozzie, Rowlff, the Electric Mayhem, Dr. Honeydew and Beaker, The Swedish Chef and so many more. Just thinking of the opening theme song makes me smile. Kids got to see the muppet version of a variety show (and ponder how Kermit had the time to host that and show up regularly on Sesame Street) and adults got to watch it with kids and laugh at the innuendos. I loved the Muppet Show. Loved it!

Well, most of it.

There was a dark side to all of this joy—a fear buried deep in my subconscious, and revealed one night when I woke up panicked. It was one of those nights where I couldn’t get back to sleep unless I went to my parents’ bed. To this day I don’t know why that feels safe—once you’re asleep, you’re back to dreaming by yourself, but maybe you feel better knowing someone will be right beside you to hear the screams.

Anyway, let’s get down to the thing about the Muppet show that I didn’t like. It was the stuff of nightmares--the invention of a mad man.

Sweetums, you say?

No, no, not him. He was just a big teddy bear.


No, no. He was wild, but harmless.

Gonzo? Even if we never could figure out if he was a mosquito or a bird, he wouldn’t hurt a thing.

The thing I was scared of was…

M.A.M.M.A.! (cue music from "Psycho")

I wasn’t even bothered by this thing when it was on the air. Its debut appearance was with Dudley Moore, possibly the least threatening man in the world (yes, I know, I mean when he was alive). It looked like a parody of R2D2—it even had a cameo appearance in “Pigs In Space,” but in my dreams, M.A.M.M.A. was relentless. I remember looking at the hardwood floors as I ran from it, my heart racing as I tried to get away. Despite its clunky appearance, M.A.M.M.A. was agile. The moment I saw that it had no problems following me down the stairs marked the time when I woke up screaming.

So many years later, I decided to try my hand in finding this monster—just to prove to myself that it wasn’t something my mind had conjured up. I tried several variations of the spelling, and finally stumbled onto the right webpage, which had a brief description and a photo. It’s funny now, to think I lost a night of sleep over a robotic muppet--a joke really, but there it is. What was I so scared of? That the thing would blast music at me once I was cornered? You can laugh, I don’t mind, but don’t come crying to me when you wake up in the middle of the night, terrified of the "cheap jive jukebox" chasing you down the stairs.

1 comment:

Valerie said...

Perhaps it's good that we were scared of really harmless random things. Means we had a relatively trauma free childhood?

Lol...For me it was that monstrous Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. He was creepy and I spent many a night freaked out by his laser schnoz.

I also still have an eye of what would creep me out as a child. Teletubbies? C R E E P Y. Barney, he would have bugged me out as a child.