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Nina In New York: Midtown Cookie Monster Behind Bars After Tourist Family Mistakes Him For Actual Cookie Monster

Elmo & Cookie Monster (credit: Gail Oskin/Getty Images)

Elmo & Cookie Monster (credit: Gail Oskin/Getty Images)

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
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By Nina Pajak

Ah, spring. It’s finally here! Breathe it in, New York. I mean, wait, not too deeply. What are you, nuts? Ew. That guy just basically belched in your mouth as he passed by.

It’s okay, though, because it’s spring! After the longest winter everrrr, the nip in the air has finally dissipated along with my Seasonal Affected Disorder, leaving nothing but warm feelings, fresh air, glorious sun, and . . . oh yeah. Tourist rage.

They’re back. They’re everywhere. They’re clogging up the streets and lollygagging in the thoroughfares and engaging in generally offensive, tourist-like behavior.

Like posing with repulsive, flea-bitten, imposter Sesame Street characters on the street. And then not thinking that this person is going to want money in exchange for said photo opp.

Like this Connecticut family who tried to stiff Cookie Monster $2 after posing with him. What happened? Well, he shoved their small child in a rage, of course, and now he’s in jail.

Are you kidding me, you guys? Of course he wanted money. What did you think, he was a paid representative from PBS out on the street doing the godly work of making little kids happy? The people in those costumes manage to make even their characters’ prefab, googly-eyed perma-smiles look seedy. They ooze hostility. They appear to smell, though I wouldn’t get too close, myself. Do you need them to hold a sign that reads, “I’m a creep”? Because they basically are. Except instead of a sign, they’re holding nothing, and just exuding creepiness to anyone within three blocks over the age of twelve. You don’t even have to know about Elmo’s patchy, shameful history to get that vibe. I’d much sooner take a photo with one of the painted human statue weirdos than with one of the off-brand children’s characters loitering about. And I would still expect to be asked for money.

I’m not above naivete. When we were on vacation in Buenos Aires, a charming Argentinean youth offered to give us a little lesson on the statue we were regarding. My husband tried to get us gone fast, but I said “no! Come on, let’s learn something from someone with knowledge of local history!” When he finished what I will continue to assume was his historically accurate lecture and then coughed awkwardly and gave us that unmistakable look, I realized what an idiot I’d been.

Nothing justifies this psycho shoving a little kid in a moment (lifetime?) of bitterness and rage, but if you were the parents in this situation, once you have incurred the wrath of what you’ve ostensibly now realized is an angry weirdo in a Cookie Monster suit on a street corner in Manhattan, wouldn’t you just fork over the two bucks? Principle is important and all, but so is an instinct for self-preservation. And priorities. And personal safety. This scenario falls more than several rungs below the category of “street smarts.”

I hope that poor toddler doesn’t wind up with Cookie Monster-related anxiety as a result of this unfortunate incident. Or worse, cookie-related anxiety. That would ratchet this up to tragic levels, and I can’t bear to think of it.