How to get to ‘Sesame Street?’ Just follow the llamas

For a few brief fleeting moments last week, it was summer. Bright, shining, warm summer, full of joy and possibilities. Cars were washed, bikes were ridden, ice cream was eaten.

That all looked like lots of fun on Instagram to those of us who were at work. So much that I made an emergency Handel’s run for my fellow newsroomies.

Luckily, I had two days off right when monsoon season began. I had been meaning to coat a new layer of mud on everything, and to stock up on some nightcrawlers.

But I jest! Rainy days are great for cleaning out closets, catching up on Netflix, and going to the dentist, all of which I did (status: no cavities – boo ya!).

Over the course of two rainy days, all of my activities seemed to have a common theme, some kind of subliminal bond that I couldn’t quite figure out. Dentist, rain, brushing teeth … then all of a sudden a voice sang out in my brain, a voice from the ’80s, a voice that reminded me of the lighter side of rainy days. The “It’s A Rainy Day” song from “Sesame Street.” Every rainy day since I was about 6 makes me think of that song, which reminds glum kids who are stuck inside, nose pressed against a cold, wet window, about the need for rain and how they should just suck it up and play a board game or something.

“Sesame Street.” It has remained a happy constant for decades. Generations have loved, laughed and learned along with its inhabitants – human and Muppet – it was simple yet clever. Compassion, education, friendship – the gang on “Sesame Street” was always eager to help kids get through the day, and life in general.

Even as adults, so much of our daily adult life can be traced back to the days you hung out where everything was A-OK. For example, I heard something on the news about there being a need for bilingual workers. I remembered all the Spanish I learned from Maria and Luis on “Sesame Street” – it stuck in my brain as much as the Spanish I learned from Senor Carbaugh at Warren G. Harding High School.

And dentist … something familiar about that too. Oh yes. One of the odder moments of children’s television. The “Me and My Llama” song from “SS,” where some New York kid takes their pet llama to the dentist, who proceeds to drill and clean its big llama teeth. Never having been to NYC at that age, I imagined the streets were teeming with llamas, alpacas, camels and other wildlife that shuttled the kids to school and back in exchange for regular dental checkups. There was also a memory on the peripheral about a killer whale getting his teeth brushed with a giant toothbrush, but that could have been a “321 Contact” or something.

And teeth … Dr. LaPolla on Elm Road didn’t have any llamas in his waiting room, but something else struck a chord. After my appointment I called my mom to beam about the no cavities thing, and reminded her that I learned the importance of brushing from the “Sesame Street” cartoon about the little boy who went to bed without brushing and was then herded back to the bathroom by his toothbrush and toothpaste who were not going to let him skimp on his oral hygiene. The cartoon ended with “brush your teeth three times a day, and you will end up with a perfect smile.” They forgot to add “unless you try to roller skate with your face,” which would have helped me a little.

“Sesame Street” still permeates my memories, and thankfully its lessons still are being followed today. I will always look both ways before crossing, always know that “hola” means hello, and never forget the loaf of bread, container of milk and stick of butter when Mom sends me to the store (one of my cousins just posted that classic on Facebook). Not to mention all of the great times with my friends Big Bird, Snuffy, Bert and Ernie, Elmo, and that curmudgeonly Oscar, who taught me that worms are people, too.

So thanks, Sesame Street-dwellers. Because of you, I can get a new sundress instead of a filling, and as I comb through a mountain of old Hot Topic receipts and Regal Cinemas ticket stubs I found in a shoebox, I will know the next sunny day, sweeping the clouds away, is just around the corner.

Got a favorite “Sesame Street” memory? Share it with me at