Reflexive Jim Henson

Today, of course, is not only Steve Whitmire’s birthday, it is also Jim Henson’s birthday. 

I was thinking about what I wanted to do to mark the occasion of what is apparently known on Twitter as “#JimHensonDay,” and I wasn’t sure what I could say that I haven’t already said. 

Then I started to think about all the ways that Jim Henson and his characters have burrowed their way deep into my subconscious, to the point where certain words or phrases will always evoke knee-jerk Muppet references from me.

It’s a topic that I’ve mentioned occasionally but never explored at length, so it seems as good a way as any to celebrate #JimHensonDay. 

(Note: A lot of these are going to be from Sesame Street, because it was my earliest and most consistent exposure to the Muppets.)

(Additional Note: Bolded words and phrases are the stimuli, and anything in italics are my reflexive responses)

No, let’s call it “Shirley”


…dear Liza, dear Liza


Tip [my] hat
Imagine that!


Say it again
I am proud to be one of the frogs in the glen!


It’s not easy
…bein’ green

The hard part about writing about reflexive responses to things is that you may not be aware of them until someone utters the trigger phrase aloud. At least, I’m finding this to be the case. 

So thank you, Jim Henson, for allowing your characters to become so deeply embedded in my psyche. 

“So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” 

–William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

(I don’t know if I would have been excited to learn Shakespeare if I had never seen Monsterpiece Theater.) 

One thought on “Reflexive Jim Henson

  1. Delightful.What would we do without your incredible research Mary? I never got to watch Sesame Street in depth. Now I get to see more of it through your eyes. Wonderful way to celebrate Jim Henson’s Birthday and of course Steve Whitmire’s ….


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