Looking back on my childhood, you would think it would have been chock-full of imaginary friends. Between the constant moving, and the lack of what most adults would call stability, I don't think anyone would have blamed me if I had a handful, or two, of made up playmates. But looking back on it, I'm almost positive I didn't have a single one, at least not one I remember now. If I did have one, and now can't remember them, I would like to take this time and apologize. It would be a crappy, and an almost unforgivable, thing to do on my part.
No matter what, at least I wasn't in Big Bird's overly large shoes. Who would want to have a real friend, only to be accused of having an imaginary friend instead? It was years before any of the adults would start to believe that Big Bird's friend, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Snuffy for short, was a real friend. I can't begin to imagine the frustration that both of them must have felt at times.
For those of you who don't know who Snuffy is, that's him above. He rather looks like a woolly mammoth, sans tusks and ears, but he's not. Snuffleupagus is not only his last name, but the name of his species as well. As a kid who loved Sesame Street, and what kid didn't, Snuffy was always one of the characters I looked forward to the most. I knew that if he was on the screen, pre 1985, Big Bird was going to be getting in trouble pretty soon. Snuffy, I think because of his size, always seemed to be getting into situations, and somehow those situations always fell back on Big Bird. The adults never seemed to believe Big Bird, and though he was using his imaginary friend as a scapegoat. It actually got pretty comical for a while, watching Snuffy disappear, seconds before the adults arrived on site. Once the adults finally saw him, he was welcomed to Sesame Street, and became a regular denizen of the place.
I don't think the mischief the two of them found themselves in was my only draw to Snuffy, I think it was his size as well. Despite his size, he's such a gentle soul. Even now, I can imagine myself curling up against him for a nap, feeling safe and secure. He looks like the best pillow imaginable, and to have a best friend as the perfect cuddler, would be perfection. It's hard not to smile when I see a picture of him, or hear him say "Ohh, dear." Snuffy is the perfect friend, imaginary or not.