My Public Apology to Bert

Dear Bert,

Well, not the real Bert, but the plastic Bert. The one from our Fisher Price Sesame Street Clubhouse playset. You were the unfortunate victim of our childhood version of Poohsticks, gone wrong.

Remember? Chris and I used to wait until spring or after a heavy summer rain and then drop things in the rushing water flowing through the ditch in front of our house. We'd then race across the driveway to watch for the stuff to come caroming out the other side. Sticks. Unusual leaves. Small plastic figurines ...

Which is where you came in. We'd long ago outgrown actually playing Sesame Street, and I don't think we even had the building anymore. But, we still held on to some of the Little People. I remember Ernie, Gordon, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, Susan (I just looked her up ... try Googling 'black Sesame Street woman married to Gordon' and see what you come up with) and you. That's all I can remember.

Anyway, if you recall, the ditch in our area was deep and narrow. Basically a backhoe would come through every couple of years and dig a trench down the sides of Fry Road. So after a rain, or the Spring Thaw, the ditch was a rapid torrent of water hurrying toward Elk Creek then Lake Erie then Niagara Falls through the Saint Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean.

Chris and I were dropping things in the ditch, running to the other side and collecting them, returning to the uphill side of the driveway, dropping them back in and repeating this process ad nauseum. Until disaster struck. You got away from us.

I remember running alongside the water, trying to reach for you, dodging low-hanging tree branches, just missing you with our fingertips until (Dun-dun-dun) we reached the property line. We stopped cold at the boundary marker and just watched helplessly as you floated away downstream.

Why didn't we keep chasing after you? I'm not really sure. It's not as though Chris and I never broke any rules. It's just that some rules seemed more like suggestions, but somehow the "Stay Out of the Osterbergs' Yard" rule was etched indelibly on our minds. We dared not follow after you. We dared not take another step. We were actually pretty upset at your loss.

We consoled ourselves for the next few days by following your progress in our minds. "Bet Bert's in Elk Creek by now!"

"Mom, do you think Bert is over Niagara Falls by now?"

"Dad, do you think a fish would eat Bert?"

We were convinced your buoyancy was infallible, that you'd follow the waterway to its eventual ending in the Atlantic Ocean. Is that what happened to you?

In any case, I hope things turned out all right, and I'm sorry we didn't try harder to save you. If it means anything, one of the first toys I eBayed for my own children was a vintage Sesame Street Clubhouse. Complete with its own Bert. We don't have a ditch in front of our house.

My apologies,