Most people are familiar with Fraggle Rock, the show with Jim Henson's Muppets that originally ran on HBO in the '80s. However, there was also an animated Fraggle Rock cartoon. It ran on Saturday Mornings for one season, then disappeared. If you've never heard of it, don't worry-you haven't missed much. It was a very dumbed-down version of the original show. The characters were lame caricatures of themselves, the writers reused songs from the TV series (often repurposing them in painful ways), and the underlying pro-world-peace, anti-prejudice message of the original show was completely lost.
So why have I written a fanfic based on a cartoon I dislike so much? In the series bible, which appears as one of the DVD's extras, Sidebottom was discussed, but he was never used. On a whim I drew him as he would appear in the style of the cartoon series, and by the end of the day an episode introducing him had written itself in my mind. He's been reimagined a tad, but hopefully he still remains true to himself.
Sidebottom Butts In
by Kim McFarland
Part 1: Born from a Wish
Boober finished wringing out the last sock of the day's load of laundry and pinned it to the clothesline. It hung damply, its dark blue contrasting gaily with the yellows, oranges, greens, stripes, and argyles surrounding it.
On any other day Boober would have sat back with a cup of tea and some cookies and enjoyed the view, basking in the glow of a job well done. But today he felt unsatisfied. So he'd done the laundry. So what?
Hands clasped behind his back, Boober slouched into the Great Hall. Fraggles were playing, swimming, and generally having a good time. He walked through the cavern as if invisible. Nobody bothered to ask him to join them, because his answer had always been no.
Almost nobody. Red popped out of a side tunnel—Boober yelped, startled—and exclaimed, "Hey, Boober! Race you to the other side of the Great Hall!"
He sighed. He knew better than to argue with her. Obediently he got into a starting pose beside her. She said, "Ready, set, GO!" and took off.
Boober ran two faltering steps, then stopped and watched her tear off. He had no hope of catching up to her. Without waiting for her to touch the wall on the far end of the Great Hall he turned and walked out again, snapping a strut off a Doozer tower as he passed by. He didn't feel like being among a crowd of Fraggles anyway.
He wandered, munching on the Doozer stick, through an inclined tunnel. He hadn't expected to encounter anyone here, but when he heard Mokey's voice he walked a little faster. He always felt better around Mokey.
She was strolling along, an open book in her hand, speaking softly to herself. When he came close he saw that she was working on a poem, trying different lines out loud and writing them down when she was satisfied.
"The pink and peach and nectarine, colors that I've never seen... oh, hello, Boober," she said when she noticed him.
"Hi, Mokey. What'cha writing?" he asked, peering at her notebook. He couldn't see a lot because he was so much shorter than she was, but there was writing down the center and little doodles along the edges.
"I'm writing an ode to the Trash Heap," she replied. She looked at the page and tapped her pencil on her cheek. "I need a rhyme for 'odor'."
Boober thought. "Ummm... decoder?"
She laughed softly and gave him a half-hug with the arm on the pencil side. "Have you ever tried writing poetry, Boober?"
"No. I wouldn't be any good at it," he said, looking away.
"Have you ever even tried? You might have the soul of a poet in that little blue body of yours."
"Do you think so?" he asked, nervously twisting his scarf.
"Why don't you try? Just think about something important to you, and make a poem about how it makes you feel."
She stopped walking and turned to him. "Sure. Just open up and let it out, Boober!"
"Just let it out?"
"'Kay," Boober said. Mokey's enthusiasm was contagious, and maybe she was right. He'd give it a try.
"I think that I will never see
A sight as lovely as laundry
A clothesline bright with blues and oranges
Makes me feel that... uh..."
He trailed off, embarrassed. When it was clear that he was not going to go on Mokey patted his back. "It's all right. Sometimes the perfect words don't come to you at first. Just set it aside and come back to it later," she said with a comforting smile.
"Okay," he said, mentally crumpling the poem up and throwing it away.
Mokey put her book and pencil in her sweater pocket and walked with Boober, one arm around his shoulders. Despite his poetic failure Boober was enjoying her company so much that he hadn't noticed where they were going. Now he saw sunlight slanting in through a hole at the end of the tunnel. They were at the Gorgs' garden!
Mokey said, "I'm glad you came with me, Boober. You can help me pick the perfect radish."
"Ummm..." Boober quavered. "It's dangerous out there!"
"Oh, Boober. Gorgs aren't so dangerous. You just have to know how to handle them, that's all."
She went out the hole and strolled toward the radish patch on the far end of the garden. She did this every day as if it were nothing, Boober thought. It was as if she knew some magic to keep Gorgs away. Or because she didn't believe the Gorgs would harm her, they never did. Nah, Boober thought as he watched her, that was silly. Things didn't work that way. Unless she had some special kind of luck that protected her.
Boober turned away and trudged back down into the earth. Whatever luck she had, he didn't share it. Luck, or talent, or anything.
Without thinking about it Boober wandered back to the Fraggle colony and to Gobo and Wembley's home. They were both packing their backpacks. Wembley noticed Boober standing in the door and said, "Hi, Boober! What'cha doing?"
"Nothing," Boober answered with a shrug.
"Done any good laundry?" Gobo asked, trying to draw him out.
"I washed some socks. I didn't feel like watching them dry," Boober replied with a sigh.
Surprised and concerned, Wembley asked, "You don't? Are ya feeling okay?"
"I'm fine," Boober said testily.
Gobo said, "Maybe you're just bored, eh? Why don't you come with us? We're going on an expedition today."
"Where to?" Boober asked, interested despite himself.
Cheerfully Wembley said, "We're going to climb The Cliff To Who Knows Where."
Boober shivered. "The Cliff To Who Knows Where? But that's steep, and high, and there are creatures that smell bad," he said squeamishly.
Cheerfully Gobo shouldered his pack. "We're not worried. Are we, Wembley?"
"No! We're not worried!" Wembley picked up his pack, then stopped, suddenly looking confused.
Gobo said, "What's the matter?"
"I don't know which shoulder to carry this over!"
Tolerantly Gobo held the pack and said, "Put your right arm through the loop." When Wembley did so, he said, "Now the left one."
Relieved, Wembley settled the backpack into a comfortable position. "Thanks, Gobo. What would I do without you?"
"I don't know," Gobo said, and it was the truth. To Boober he said, "Sure you don't want to come? We have enough rope and a spare pickaxe for you."
"No thanks. Death will inevitably come for me. I'd rather not meet it halfway."
"Okay. See you later," Wembley said.
The two left, and Boober was alone again. He sighed and shuffled out.
Back home the socks were exactly as he left them. There were a few wet spots on the floor. He had been careless and hadn't wrung some of them out as well as he shuld have. At the moment, however, he just didn't care. Why should he? Why should anybody? He was a laundry-loving loser, he told himself. He didn't run, explore, play, or do any of the other things that Fraggles were supposed to do. He was such a drag, he thought, it was a wonder he had any friends at all. He wished he was more like Red, Gobo, Mokey, and even Wembley. More like a Fraggle should be. Then he'd be happy.
Softly, as if afraid of being overheard, he began to sing,
"Dreaming of someone
Bright and brave and true,
Happy as a someone can be.
Dreaming of someone
And feeling very blue,
Because I know that someone isn't me.
"And how I wish I could change myself,
Make myself anew.
And how I long to exchange myself—
How I wish I were you.
"Dreaming of laughing,
No worries on my mind,
From bad luck and from woe ever free.
Dreaming and waking,
And every time I find
That happy, carefree someone isn't me.
"And how I wish I could change myself,
Make myself anew.
And how I long to exchange myself—
How I wish I were you."
He pulled back the blankets and slid into bed, seeking the temporary relief that sleep would bring.
Boober found himself in a cave of cloudy gray stone. Looking around, he saw that there was no way out. The air was still; there was no ventilation. That meant his air supply was limited. He felt panic begin to rise as he looked desperately around for a crack, a loose stone, any sign that he could dig his way out.
"Do you want to get out of here?"
Boober yelped and spun around. There, lounging against a boulder, was another Fraggle. He was a mossy blue-green, but his clothes were garish enough to light up the cave without the help of the Ditzies. His feathered hat and pants were oversized and polka-dotted; His yellow shirt clashed with his red suspenders and lime-green wristbands and purple scarf and—well, everything. All he was missing was a clown nose, Boober thought.
The colorful Fraggle looked around. "You can't want to stay in this stuffy little cave, can you?"
"No! But there's no way out!"
"Yes there is!" He took Boober by one hand and pushed on the rock wall with the other. The stone crumbled at his touch. He walked easily through, pulling Boober along.
"How did you do that?" Boober exclaimed.
"I'm here to make things better for you," the clown answered in a singsong voice. "You sang me to life, and here I am. With me, you can do anything you want."
"Anything! Whenever you're afraid to do something, call on me. I'll make it all better!"
"You will?" Boober asked, hardly able to believe his luck. "But, um...why do you want to help me?"
The clown laughed. "Haven't you noticed the family resemblance?" He joined hands with Boober and melted into him. Boober gasped as he felt a rush of energy, of bravery, of happiness flow through himself.
Boober threw off the covers and jumped out of bed. Leaving the blanket on the floor, he glanced around, chuckled to himself, and scampered out of his room.
Part 2: Muck and Goo
Boober ran into the Great Hall. Red was there, swimming as usual. Boober ran up to the edge of the pond and shouted, "Red Fraggle! I challenge you!"
Startled, she looked around. "Boober? Are you kidding me?"
"You heard me!"
She swam over. "You never even finished our race. What're you going to challenge me to, a giving-up contest?"
"No. Tail wrestling. And I'll give it my all this time!"
"Tail wrestling? You are feeling brave," she said, climbing out of the pond.
"Brave, daring, and bold," Boober answered, turning his back on her.
She grinned as they stood facing opposite directions and twined their tails. Boober didn't stand a chance. He had a tail like a limp celery stalk, and she pumped granite every day with hers. But it was brave—if not smart—of him to try, so she'd go easy and make sure she didn't hurt him.
Red said, "Ready...steady...GO!"
All the Fraggles in the Great Hall had stopped what they were doing to watch the competition. It was usually Gobo that Red squared off against; it was unheard of for Boober to start a competition. Even if the outcome was a foregone conclusion, this would still be worth watching.
Red and Boober's tails writhed together like a pair of snakes, each seeking leverage against the other. Red was stronger by far; she had thrown many Fraggles off their feet. But she could not get a grip on Boober's tail! She tried harder, and soon their tails were so twisted together that they could barely move. "What are you doing back there, macramé?" she exclaimed.
"Yes, underwater macramé!" Boober cried, and lunged forward. Caught off guard, Red was yanked off her feet. Boober jumped into the pond, dragging Red with himself. She fell in on top of him, and because their tails were still tied together he could not reach the surface.
Furious, Red righted herself, then, holding the side of the pool with one hand, grabbed Boober's scarf with the other and pulled him to the surface. As he coughed she exclaimed, "What're you trying to do, drown yourself? If you wanna quit, just quit!"
Boober laughed, making her grit her teeth. Their tails were coming loose in the water, and after a bit of tugging they slid apart. Red climbed out and, dripping wet, her fists on her hips, said, "What is your problem? If you want to play a game, then play it! Don't pull stupid stunts like this!"
Boober laughed, then said, "But Red, if I don't play by the rules that means you win. So you still get it your way!" He cupped his hands and splashed water at her.
"You—you dimp!" she shouted, and stalked off.
As Boober treaded water he thought, Was that such a good idea? Red hates to be shown up!
The voice of the clown answered, So what? She's always picking on you, challenging you to games she knows you can't win. She had it coming.
"Well..." Boober murmured aloud. He climbed out of the pool. With his fur full of water he suddenly felt small and cold and heavy.
I told you that I'd make it better, the clown said. Don't you want that?
"Well, yes..." Boober whispered.
Then stop worrying!
The other Fraggles saw Boober straighten up, a grin lighting his face once more, and scurry out of the Great Hall.
Boober met Mokey in the tunnels coming back from the Gorgs' garden, carrying a radish as big as Boober's laundry basket. She said, "Oh, Boober, I was hoping I'd find you—"
"And you're just the Fraggle I wanted to see," Boober replied cheerfully. "I have something to tell you."
"Really? Tell me, then."
"She walks in beauty, like a flight
Of batworms soaring through the skies;
The light of day and dark of night
Dim in the glory of her eyes.
Her gentle voice, so soft and slight
Has such sweet warmth, it makes bread rise."
Mokey's eyes widened with surprise. "Why, Boober! I've never seen this side of you before!"
Boober laughed triumphantly. "Isn't it time everybody did?" Then he ran back down the tunnel, leaving Mokey, startled, holding the radish.
As Boober ran through the tunnels he thought, I can't believe I just did that. I never thought I'd have had the nerve!
With my help you can do anything you want!
Yes, I can, Boober thought. And I will.
Gobo and Wembley, tethered together by a rope and wearing broad-brimmed protective headgear against the area's unique hazard, were scaling The Cliff To Who Knows Where. In good conditions the cliff was easy to climb, being covered with handholds and little nooks where they could rest.
Wembley was beginning to tire. "Gobo," he said softly, tugging the rope.
Gobo looked down over his shoulder and whispered, "Shhh. Don't wake the plopbats."
Wembley nodded emphatic agreement. Then he pantomimed a yawn.
That was the signal they had agreed upon for a rest break. Gobo nodded and pointed with his pickaxe at a rock shelf up above where they could rest.
Boober reached the base of the cliff. Wembley and Gobo hadn't gotten very far. Boober grinned to himself. This rock climbing business didn't look hard. It was just a matter of pulling yourself up the rock face. Any Fraggle could do it. Wembley could do it. Surely Boober could too! And if anyone fell, there was a pond right at the cliff base. The worst he'd be risking was a belly flop.
He went over to the side of the cliff and began climbing.
Gobo and Wembley had almost reached the shelf when they heard Boober calling their names. Both looked down in alarm, and Gobo put a finger over his lips.
"What's the matter? Didn't expect me, did you?" Boober, climbing as fast as he could, called up to them. "Race you to the top!"
"No! Boober, stop!" Gobo whispered as loudly as he could.
"What for?" Boober answered.
Then Wembley and Gobo heard the sound that they had been dreading: rustling and squeaking in the darkness above them. The blackness began to swirl as leathery wings filled the air, first a few, then hundreds. The alarmed bats fluttered about, seeking the source of the disturbance. Both Wembley and Gobo knew what to do in case the plopbats awakened: Stay still and silent until they calmed down again. But Boober wouldn't know that! Gobo said as loudly as he dared, "Stay there, Boober! Don't move or say anything! It'll rile the bats!"
"I can't hear you over all this squeaking," Boober called up, still climbing.
The squeaking and rustling increased in volume as the bats homed in on the noise. Gobo groaned. The bats flocked angrily about the Fraggles. They had no sharp teeth and claws, but they were gifted with one very effective weapon with which to drive off their enemies. They employed it now. Gobo felt something strike his hat. A moment later something hit the back of his vest.
Gobo and Wembley huddled, faces to the cliff, weathering the bats' assault. Boober was startled at first, then disgusted when he realized what the bats were using as ammunition. But he continued climbing. He was not going to be defeated by a bunch of messy bats!
The bats, infuriated by the intruders' refusal to leave their lair, stepped up their assault. Wembley felt himself begin to slide; the cliff face was becoming too wet and slippery for him to keep his grip. He tried hard to find new footholds, but one foot slipped. The rope connecting him to Gobo pulled tight, and then they were both sliding down the slimy cliff. En route they hit Boober, who had stopped looking up to protect his face. All three tobogganed down—Boober whooping all the way—and landed with a splash in the water at the cliff's base.
All three broke the surface. Boober started to speak, but both Gobo and Wembley grabbed him and covered his mouth. Gobo whispered, "Be quiet! Stop scaring the bars or they'll never stop pelting us!"
The three huddled in the pool, listening to the sounds of leathery wings cutting the air, tiny squeaks, and the soft patter of the bats' bombardment. Eventually that slowed and stopped. Wembley whispered, "They're calming down."
Gobo replied sourly, "I bet they just ran out of ammo. Ugh! Boober, what were you doing?"
Boober replied, "Gobo, you take things too seriously. Wasn't this fun?"
"Fun? We're gonna have to bathe for a week to get all this off us!" he exclaimed, barely holding his voice down.
"Yeah!" Wembley chimed in.
Boober laughed and ducked under the water, escaping his friends' grasp. He resurfaced at the edge of the pond and said, "You take things too seriously, Gobo. You should learn to relax and have fun!" He scampered off before Gobo could frame a suitable reply.
After a moment of silence, Wembley looked down at his soiled shirt and murmured, "Maybe he just wanted to do some more challenging laundry?"
When Boober turned a corner he found the clown in the tunnel with him. Boober said, "What were you doing? I don't know anything about rock climbing! I could have been killed! And now I'm all covered in..." he gulped squeamishly, "muck and goo."
Irritatingly calm, the clown replied, "You should take your own advice. Relax and have fun."
"This is not the kind of fun I want to have! This is dangerous! And messy! And Gobo and Wembley and Red must be furious with me, and I don't blame them!"
"They'll get over it. Your friends are always fighting and making up."
"I don't want your help anymore," Boober stated firmly. "Go away and stop making me do stupid things."
The clown grinned widely. "I can't."
Boober pointed down the tunnel. "It's easy," he snapped. "You walk that way. I'll go the other way."
"Haven't you figured it out by now? Boober, I'm you!"
"What?" Boober exclaimed, shaken.
"Yes! I'm the part of you that wants to have fun and play and race and swim and go out to the Gorgs' garden to pick just the right radish and do everything else that your friends do."
"I don't want any of that," Boober said, his voice faltering.
"Oh, but you do," the clown crooned. "You wished for me, and that made me real. Do you want to know my name, Boober? I'm Sidebottom. I'm the side of you that you keep on the bottom."
"Well, I'm going to keep you on the bottom after this!" Boober snapped.
Sidebottom looked him in the eyes and smiled a little too widely. "Just you try."
Sidebottom's laughter made Boober shiver.
Part 3: Duel Duet
When Wembley and Gobo got home Red and Mokey were waiting for them. Red said, "Have you two seen Boober today?"
"Oh boy, have we," Gobo said crossly, taking off his backpack.
"He's been acting...odd," Mokey told them.
"He's a pain in the neck!" Red exclaimed. "He tried tail-wrestling with me and pulled me into the pool! Boober never does stuff like that, and—what's that smell?"
Gobo said, "We were climbing The Cliff To Who Knows Where, and Boober stirred up the plopbats." Mokey and Red grimaced sympathetically. Gobo continued, "Yeah. We washed off as much as we could."
Wembley said, "I'm sure it was an accident. He couldn't have meant to do it."
"It was dumb and careless, and that's not like Boober," Gobo said. "Maybe there's something wrong with him."
"Let's find him and get to the bottom of this," Red said.
"Yes. We must hurry, before he hurts himself," Mokey said.
"How'll we find him, though?" Wembley asked.
"By smell. The bats got him too," Gobo grumbled.
Trembling, Boober peered out of the tunnel that opened into the Gorgs' garden. He whimpered, "I ought to be home doing laundry. Look at me—I ought to be laundry! Let's go back."
Sidebottom, also looking out of the hole, said, "Mokey does this all the time. It's a piece of cake!"
"Cake. What a good idea! There's a radish cake in the pantry. Let's go back and have some right now."
Boober turned to go. Sidebottom sang out, "No there isn't, and you know it, and I know it because you know it. There won't be radish cake in the pantry until you bake it, and look at that radish! It's just begging to be the main ingredient!"
Despite himself Boober looked back. There, at the edge of the garden, was a perfectly huge radish. Its color was a smooth, unblemished pinkish-red, and its leaves were green and glossy. It sat in the shade of a radish-sized parasol that was stuck in the ground beside it. "Oh, my..." Boober breathed.
"Isn't it a honey?"
"You can have that radish!" Sidebottom told him. "All you have to do is go get it!" Boober did not protest, and Sidebottom took control.
Mokey led the other Fraggles up the hole to the Gorgs' garden. If Boober was doing foolish things to try to imitate his friends, then he might be going out to get a radish. When she reached the entrance she gasped and pointed. Boober was running straight across the garden without even trying to make himself inconspicuous. She popped aboveground. After looking around she told the others, "The Gorgs aren't around. It's all—oh, no!"
Gobo hurried out. "What? What's wrong?" he asked, looking around.
"Boober's going for the wrong radish!" Mokey exclaimed in panic.
Wembley, his head poking out of the tunnel, said, "Oh no! Not that radish! Any radish but that one!"
Red scrambled out. "The wrong radish? You're kidding me! It looks delicious!"
"Yeah, you gotta be kidding. That's the best radish I've ever seen!" Wembley said.
Boober was tugging on the leaves, trying to pull it free from the ground. Mokey dashed forward, shouting "Don't pick that radish! It's Junior Gorg's favorite!"
"It's my favorite too!" he said as he strained.
His efforts shook the leaves and pulled on the string attached to them. A terrible clatter sounded from above as various old mugs, bits of scrap metal, and other miscellania hung on a string overhead clashed together. Startled, Boober looked up. Mokey grabbed him by the shoulders. "That's Junior's alarm! Run!"
Junior looked out the window and saw the two Fraggles threatening his favorite radish. "Oh-ho, you thought you could take Gewaldine! I'll thump you!" he shouted as he grabbed a club out of the woodpile.
"Gewaldine?" Boober said.
"His pet radish! Geraldine!" Mokey exclaimed.
"Geraldine?" Boober giggled, oblivious to the enraged Gorg who was rushing toward him. Just before the club smashed down Sidebottom jumped aside. Boober shrieked in terror.
Gobo shouted, "Mokey, Wembley, distract the Gorg!" He and Red each grabbed one of Boober's arms and hauled him back toward the entrance to Fraggle Rock.
Mokey and Wembley split up and began running through the radish patch. Junior chased them, trying to club them without harming his radishes. "Stay still," he growled.
Wembley glanced over and saw Red, Gobo, and Boober enter the tunnel. "They're safe, Mokey!"
The two made a dash for Fraggle Rock. Junior chased them. The ground vibrated as the club pounded the ground just behind them, nearly catching their tails. They leapt into the ground and ran down the tunnel. A hairy hand followed them. They were soon out of his reach. The huge hand flailed about, grabbing air. Boober walked up and kicked Junior's thumb.
"Boober!" Red exclaimed, jerking him back. "Are you out of your mind?"
Boober whimpered, looking first at her, then at the Gorg's hand. Then he said in a cheerful tone, "Not at all. For the first time I'm completely in my mind!"
"What?" Gobo said.
"No! I don't know what's happened to me!" Boober exclaimed, then answered himself, "Yes you do." Addressing the others, he said defiantly, "I wanted to be brave and have fun too, so I did! Don't hold me back now!"
"Boober?" Mokey breathed, eyes wide.
"I couldn't write poetry before because I kept telling myself I'd be no good at it. And there were things I couldn't say to you. But now I can! I've stopped being afraid of everything and started saying 'Yes, I can!'"
"That's very...positive of you," Mokey said, alarmed by his manic behavior.
"Everyone, please don't listen," Boober begged, terrified. "He wants to take me over and make me do dangerous things! All I want to do now is take a bath. And another bath. And then do the laundry!"
"Who's trying to take you over?" Wembley asked.
"Sidebottom," Boober told them. Sidebottom crowed, "That's me, the side of Boober that he always keeps on the bottom. The side that's willing to go out there and do things instead of just wishing he could—"
Boober interrupted, "I'm sorry about the things he did. I didn't mean to cause trouble. I'm scared that he'll get loose and make things worse!"
It was as if Boober was speaking with two voices, Wembley realized. There was his normal voice, which sounded like Boober always did, and then a higher-pitched one that said things Boober never would. Wembley said, "Wait, there's two of you inside one head?"
Sidebottom answered, "There's only one of us. Boober cut himself in half and hid one part away from himself. Then he wished that half would come back, but he couldn't let it be part of him. So here I am! I'm everything Boober wishes he could be—" Boober interrupted, "I don't want to be a pest and a danger to all my friends!" Sidebottom ignored the interruption and continued, "I can climb and play and swim and tail wrestle and pick radishes and do everything your friends can do because I'm not afraid to take a chance! That's what you wished for, remember? My only regret is that you didn't call for me earlier!"
Red said, "Wait a minute! This is all about you wanting to be like us?"
"Well, yes," Boober admitted uncomfortably.
Mokey put an arm around him and drew him close. "But we love you just the way you are, silly."
Sidebottom replied, "A cowardly, pathetic, laundry-loving... coward? Who could love a dimp like that?"
Gobo told him, "Haven't we been telling you the answer all along, for crying out loud? You're fine the way you are. You don't need to imitate us."
Sidebottom answered, "I'm tired of being nobody because I'm too scared to do anything that matters! It's always 'Look, Gobo discovered a new tunnel' or 'Wow, Red broke a new record' or 'Ooh, Mokey wrote a new poem'-"
"Or, 'Yum, Boober cooked a great dinner'," Wembley said earnestly.
Sidebottom looked around. Red said, "If you don't think that matters, you're nuts. Every dinnertime you show us what's special about you."
"And nobody even comes close to doing laundry as well as you do." Gobo sniffed and made a face. "In fact, I could sure go for some clean clothes right now."
The other Fraggles chuckled. Boober felt his tension fade. He believed them. Sensing defeat, Sidebottom pleaded, "What about me? Can't I have any fun?"
Wembley said, "I don't see why you can't. I mean, if you're Boober, then maybe you can work together with him—you—instead of fighting him—yourself... oh, now I'm getting confused."
Gobo said, "Boober, you need both halves of yourself. You want to be brave and try new things, that's great! We'll help you. But you also gotta be careful and think things through. You can do that, eh?"
"I want to," Boober whispered. After a pause he added, "How about you?"
"I don't want to fight with you anymore," Sidebottom replied quietly.
"And... I want to try the things you say I can do. But in my own time."
"All right. I won't take over any more. Just take a chance once in a while, 'kay?"
"Solemn Fraggle oath?"
Boober looked around selfconsciously. "You're kidding."
"No, I'm not. Please?"
"All right." Boober sighed, then raised one hand and said, "I, Boober Fraggle, will let Sidebottom have fun—sometimes—instead of repressing him all the time. Weeba weeba, waffa waffa, garpox gumbage, whoopee."
"Thanks," Sidebottom said, and faded back into Boober's mind.
Mokey put a hand on Boober's shoulder. "Are you all right?"
Boober looked down at himself. "I will be after I have three baths."
Red blurted out, "Last one to the swimming hole is a stinky Fraggle!"
Boober grabbed her tail before she could dash off. "Red, people drink that water! We're going downstream from the Great Hall so we don't foul it with this...goop."
Abashed, she said, "Oh, yeah. Well, race ya!" and took off.
Boober watched her go. The other Fraggles glanced at Boober, expecting him to be annoyed. He just shrugged calmly and walked after her.
Several hours and scrubbings with rock soap later, the Fraggles returned to Boober's home. Gobo, Wembley, and Boober were carrying their clothing on the end of long sticks. They dropped the clothing in the laundry basket. Boober said, "That'll be my evening," without a trace of annoyance. He didn't care for bat-spattered clothes, but defeating grime and making dirty clothing clean and fresh again was its own reward.
Then he glanced up. There, on his kitchen table, was the radish that Mokey had brought back from the garden. It was big and beautiful and smelled perfectly ripe. "On second thought," he breathed, "this will be my evening."
The others watched, amused, as Boober scurried over to the kitchen, opened up a wooden box, and began flipping through recipe cards. He pulled one out and studied it, then paused thoughtfully. "How about curried radish?" he said in Sidebottom's voice.
"Curried radish? I've never heard of that," Red said. "What's it taste like?"
"I don't know. Let's find out," Boober said, and grinned.
Boober put the recipe card back and closed the box, closed it, and began taking various things out of the pantry. Gobo, Wembley, Red, and Mokey watched him for a minute. He was so engrossed in what he was doing he had forgotten they were there. Knowing that he'd be happily busy for the next few hours, they left him to it.
The animated Fraggle Rock, all characters, and the original version of Dreaming of Someone are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. The overall story is copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9 at aol dot com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.