Saturday, September 27, 2008
Last week, Ernie walks up to my cubicle with a grave look on his face. He says he needs to talk to me about something.
JAKE: "What's up?"
I am genuinely concerned.
ERNIE: "Well, I need to ask you a huge favor. It's big. It's a really big favor. "
JAKE: "OK," (Paying close attention.) "What is it?"
ERNIE: "Will you stop the blog? It's getting me into trouble."
JAKE: "What?" How are you getting into trouble?"
ERNIE: "I just am."
I can tell by the sorrow in his eyes that he hates participating in this conversation. Ernie loves the blog just as much as everybody else, but something is wrong... This isn't a joke. He is dead serious.
JAKE: "I don't understand. Did something happen?"
ERNIE: "Yeah. Just please stop." (Lowering his head and looking meekly at his ragged white sneakers.)
Perhaps I should let it go and take Ernie for his word, but I have to know more. This blog is a terrific creative outlet for me and I can’t give it up without a fight. I press for details and after several repeated questions, it is revealed that some of the things in the blog are causing arguments at home.
JAKE: "Really? Which parts?"
I am completely taken aback.
ERNIE: "All of it."
I thought it is generally understood that a lot of what gets written goes through a vigorous 'poetic licensing.' Of course everything is accurate and true, but any observations or skewed personal notes are of my own making, not of Ernie's.
JAKE: "But, what about the traveling doll? What about the fans who read the blog every week? What about the podcast episodes?"
These are knee-jerk reactions. I honestly didn't expect it to come to this.
ERNIE: "You can still do the Ernie doll. Traveling Ernie is cool."
I look at him for several seconds while contemplating more bargains, but it is no use. Like Jane Goodall, I have become too friendly with the gorillas. The observer is gone and the friend now sits in his place.
JAKE: (Muttering.) "OK. But I need to write one more blog entry to explain things."
ERNIE: "Thanks, man. I really appreciate it." Ernie walks back to his desk and leaves me alone in a dazed state.
Later in the day, Kenny G. stops by my desk and I explain the situation.
KENNY G: (In a soothing jazz tone.) "Since when does Ernie's personal life revolve around your writing? Do you have that much control over his marriage?"
It is a good question.
JAKE: No, but Ernie and his wife are young and they've only been married a few months. They haven't had enough life experience to know what to really get upset about."
Kenny G. nods.
JAKE: "Then again, nobody wants to think their husband looks like a Muppet.
KENNY G: (Whispering) "True, but that's just your take on it. It's not the truth."
He looks me in the eyes.
KENNY G: “For example, when you tell my wife that I look like Kenny G. or you mention anything about anything to either of us, we don’t take it at face value. We know it’s gone through a Jake filter, and that’s just the way you see the world.”
JAKE: “Fair enough.”
Was this a compliment or a put down? I don't know, but Kenny G. has given me something to think about, and after thinking about it for several days, grappling with the idea of stopping the blog or not, I'm still stumped. I’ve kept Ernie’s identity anonymous. In fact, I’ve gone through great strides to keep his identity a secret, possibly in case it ever came to something like this.
There is nothing specific in writing pointing to Ernie's true identity.
What would you do? Would you stop the blog and respect Ernie’s wishes? Would you stick to your guns and document the humor in the lives of your co-workers? I watched a program on PBS the other night about stress. You wouldn’t believe the toll stress takes on 75% of the world’s population. Stress causes more physical, emotional, and mental problems in our lives than we think, but there are many ways to reduce stress. Laughter being the most effective and healthiest way.
It should be noted that the goal of this blog is not to cause offense, and it certainly isn’t to inject strife or stress into anybody’s marriage. It’s simply a creative endeavor for a man who “has too much time on his hands,” as I’ve often been told.
So after careful consideration, I will leave the fate of this anonymous Ernie blog up to you, the reader. A poll has been placed up there in the right hand corner of your screen. See it? After 7 days, the end result will yield the fate of the blog. Can you live without your occasional Ernie update? Or do you enjoy peering into the secret life of a Muppet?
Cast your ballot. This isn’t the current presidential elections, this is important!
The choice is yours.