ernie and bert: who are you in the tryst?

When I was a kid I used to feel dead sorry for Bert. He had to be the sensible anchor to Ernie’s silliness. Ernie got to have fun. Bert had to uphold standards and sensibility. Someone had to, right? Everyone loved Ernie. Everyone found Bert a stick-in-the-mud. But, really, Bert, always did the right thing. On behalf of both of them. At least, ostensibly. His only outlet was to do that ” Wa-Wa-Wa-Waaaaaah” collapse backwards!!


I always identified with Bert. I was the sensible big sister, while my four brothers and sister got to be silly. This dynamic played out in my relationships over the years, too. I kept going out with blokes who played the Ernie role. Which, I now realise, was all about keeping me in my comfortable Bert role. I resented them for it. And observed myself becoming the dour nag who said things like, “You can’t get drunk tonight because it’s your mum’s birthday tomorrow!”.

At some point, though, we have to acknowledge that we choose the people we hang around with. And often because they keep us in roles we’re cosy with, even if they don’t make us happy.

This thinking stemmed from a very random question a kinesiologist asked me on Friday: “Do you think Ernie was jealous and resentful of Bert?” It came out of the blue. Funny. I’d never thought about it that way around. Yeah, I reckon he was. Ernie acted up in defiance of Bert because he didn’t feel certain. Bert’s steady, authoritative demeanour was a reminder to Ernie that he was a bit of a rabbit.

Which all boils down to this really: who are the muppets you hang around with? And what do they say about the role you’re stuck in?

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