Title: Can't Say Anything Nice
Author: Caitrin Torres
"Wow, Kermit, they were awful. Are they new?"
A group of monsters trooped past on their way to the dressing rooms. The largest of the bunch shook his fist and glared at the little frog sitting on Kermit's table. "Robin, you shouldn't say things like that," Kermit said as soon as they were out of earshot.
"It's not very nice." Kermit looked around furtively and lowered his voice to a whisper. "Besides, they could make a little froggie pancake out of you if they wanted to. Remember your manners."
"But they were awful," Robin said in protest. "Half the audience cheered just because the act was over."
Kermit cringed at the volume of his nephew's voice and yanked Robin closer. "Let me tell you a story." And with the wavy lines of a segue practically visible in the air, he began. "You see, it all started back when this theater had its grand opening..."
"Why are we here?" Statler grumbled. He poked through the platter of hors d'oeuvres at the end of the buffet table and tried to find something that looked edible. "It's certainly not for the food."
Waldorf reached around him to take another puff pastry. "We're here because my sister is hosting this shindig."
"That's you, but why am I here?"
"Because you married her, you nitwit!"
Their chuckles abruptly cut off when Astoria came up behind them and smacked each of them on the back of the head. "Sorry, dear," Statler muttered.
"You're just sorry I heard you. After fifty years, I should expect better, but not from you two louts." She turned to include Waldorf in the conversation. "It's no wonder that you never managed to find a woman willing to marry you, brother of mine."
They shrugged and she glared, as usual. "The show will be starting soon. Here are your tickets. I trust that you won't get lost between here and your seats." She waited until they both grunted in agreement, then swept off towards another cluster of guests.
Fifteen minutes later, Waldorf popped the last of the pastries into his mouth. "Shall we?"
"Might as well get this over with," Statler grumbled. "Maybe we'll be able to catch up on our sleep."
They succumbed to the inevitable and slid into their seats as the curtain rose. Over the first few acts, they progressed from raised eyebrows to muttered comments to an unrestrained commentary on the show. People around them tried to shush them, but it wasn't until the beginning of the fourth act that things went to pot.
A pig in a sequined dress took the stage. She clearly fancied herself to be a blonde bombshell of some sort, but the effect was ruined the moment she began to sing.
"I've never heard anyone sing like her," Statler said. "She definitely has a unique voice."
Waldorf snorted. "Yeah, it's unique because no one else is that bad."
They laughed heartily until the elderly pig sitting in front of them twisted around in her seat with a flinty look in her eyes. "I've had enough of you two boys," she hissed. "Come with me. Now."
Only a very old woman could call them boys and mean it, but she proved to be quite spry as she dragged them out into the lobby by their ears and backed them up against a wall. "Have you no shame?" she asked, completely indignant.
"Shame? We have plenty of shame," Statler said.
Waldorf chimed in as well. "Yeah, we're ashamed to be here!"
She looked at them with disgust. "I should curse you to suffer the agony of being heckled yourselves for what you said about my granddaughter, but I think that might be too good for you."
Waldorf flinched a little at the word 'granddaughter', but Statler didn't even pause. "Just how do you think you can curse us?" he asked.
"I have my ways," she said archly. "Never underestimate a grandmother. No, being attacked on stage is too light a punishment. I curse you to watch this show again and again until you learn some manners!" Her words were accompanied by an ominous flash of light and a puff of smoke. "It will be a good long time before your punishment is finished, don't you think?" She herded them towards the doors with a few swings of her heavy handbag. "Now be gone!"
When they stepped out into the sunlight, Statler and Waldorf each breathed a sigh of relief. "At least that's over with," Waldorf said.
"You can say that again."
"At least that's over with."
"What should we do now?" Statler asked.
"Coffee? If we go to that little diner across the street, we should be able to slip back in just as the show ends. Astoria will never know the difference."
They laughed great belly laughs at their cleverness as they stepped out into the street. The last things they saw were the car headed straight toward them and the ancient old sow at the wheel.
When the world came back into focus, Waldorf saw red. "Red velvet," he said to himself as his vision cleared. "This is high class for a hospital."
Next to him, Statler managed to get his feet under him and sit up straight in his chair. "No, this is the same blasted theater we just came from."
Waldorf tried to stand up and couldn't. Statler struggled as well to no avail. They turned towards each other in horror. "We're stuck!"
A drum roll drew their attention to the stage. A spastic little green frog threw open a door in the scrim and shouted, "It's The Muppet Show! Yaaay!"
"Oh God, we're in hell."
The frog was singing. "To introduce our guest star, that's what I'm here to do, so it really makes me happy to introduce to you... Mr. Danny Bonaduce!"
"No, we're cursed!"
A little boy with red hair, freckles, and a happy grin ran onto the stage and waved to the crowd. "Looks that way," Waldorf concluded.
They watched the opening number with growing dismay until a thing of some sort with the biggest nose either of them had ever seen swung at a gong and knocked himself silly instead. They laughed. "Well, we may as well make the best of it," Statler said, still snickering. "Boo!"
"Yeah, boo! Boo!"
The last of the wavy lines faded from view. "Uncle Kermit," Robin asked, "are you saying that I should lie about things?"
"What? No, of course not."
"Oh. So you're saying that hell is having to watch this show every night?"
"No!" Kermit waved his arms in frustration. "Well, maybe for some people, but that's not-"
A smattering of applause from the audience and a round of jeers from the balcony signaled the end of the sketch. Kermit jumped to the side as the dancers hurried past and dodged the flock of chickens waiting in the wings for their cue. Robin took the opportunity and escaped. "Bye, Uncle Kermit!"
"...not what I meant," Kermit finished weakly.
When Gonzo and the chickens took the stage, the wing of the stage was conspicuously empty. Kermit reached over and toggled the switch on the intercom. "Veterinarian's Hospital sketch, you're up in three. Rowlf, Piggy, I need you down here now." A commotion in the orchestra pit caught his attention. "Scooter! Go tell Animal he's not allowed to eat the scenery."
Kermit shook his head in resignation. "Watching isn't hell, but managing..." His face crumpled. "Yeesh."