Ohai there! I know it's been a while. This little futuretake has been brewing in my mind ever since the new Muppets show premiered this fall, and I finally got a chance to sit down and scribble it down.
On a personal note, I know I haven't been around much recently, but I am still out there writing. This outtake is actually in celebration of my first ever print book, which comes out this week. It's called Seven Nights To Surrender, and it would really mean a lot to me if you'd consider giving it a look. **heart-eyes**
(Because past me is apparently clairvoyant, this works pretty much perfectly into the existing String Theory timeline. Dr. Edward Cullen and Dr. Bella Swan-Cullen completed their graduate work this spring (holy shit how has four years gone by), and have relocated to begin professorships in a brand new town. Along with them are their infant daughter Elizabeth, Bella's aging but still kicking father Charlie, and his new-ish wife Sue.
And a brand new prime time Muppets show has just begun to air...)
For a minute, Bella sits there in silence, stunned. "Okay. What. The actual. Fuck."
The past couple of weeks, I've been trying to temper her excitement about the new Muppets show. Early reviews have been sort of middling, and everyone's been saying that it's not the Muppets we know and love, but my wife's enthusiasm has remained unchecked. She's been teaching an evening class this semester, and with juggling both our schedules and dealing with a teething, screaming baby, we've actually managed to let the first few episodes pile up on our DVR.
Finally, this weekend, we had a second to ourselves. We put Elizabeth to sleep, made some popcorn, and plopped down on the couch for what Bella kept telling me was going to be a renaissance for her favorite set of characters in the world.
Right now, her rage looks like it could give Miss Piggy's a run for her money.
"Seriously, though." She turns to me, gesturing wildly at the television. "What the fuck was that?"
We're two episodes in, and I'm not sure we're getting any further.
I shrug, biting my tongue. A part of me is dying to say I told you so, but I like my balls where they are, thank you very much. "I mean. It was. Different?"
"Different? It was. It. I." She swings her hand at the TV again.
"They're rebranding?" I try.
"They're…shitting on their legacy. I mean, what the fuck."
"Yeah, you said that part."
She's so worked up, she barely even bothers to glare. "First they break up Kermit and Piggy, which I knew, fine, but I always thought it was just a marketing thing to get attention, and then they were going to get them back together again. But Fozzie's dating a human and making jokes about bears, Kermit's stress-eating, and then in the second one?" We watched them back to back, not even pausing between the two. "They've always had a little bit of a gender representation problem, and Piggy's always been a caricature, but this…"
She honestly, truly seems to be at a loss for words. I grimace harder. "It wasn't awesome."
"It was horrible! She's just ruled by her libido or something? Give her a man and get her laid and suddenly she's a peach? Everybody was manipulating her, and I—This—" She sputters for a while, clearly flabbergasted by the whole thing.
Weakly, I kid, "You mean that's not how things go in real life?"
She narrows her eyes at me, "I will hurt you."
I hold my hands up in front of my chest. "Just kidding."
"You better be. It's just, it's all…"
"Such a mess." She deflates by a fraction, slumping back against the couch. "What if we'd had Elizabeth out here with us?"
"You know it all would've gone over her head." Most things do.
Bella tugs her lip between her teeth. "I just. I really wanted to share this with her, you know?"
And it's not like I didn't have any clue about what was going on. But suddenly, it all snaps into place. "You really miss him, don't you?"
She waves her hand and doesn't look at me, and that's a good a sign as any that I'm right. Grabbing the popcorn, I set it on the coffee table and scooch over, tugging her into my lap. She goes willingly enough, snuggling into my chest, and I kiss her hair, holding her close.
When we moved here, we spent a lot of time looking for a place that would fit our entire extended family, but we didn't have a hell of a lot of luck. Eventually, Charlie and Sue took it upon themselves to find a retirement community with apartments available. They're just a little ways up the road, and it's a good fit for them. They have activities going on all the time. Hell, I'm pretty sure they've made more friends than we have so far.
But it doesn't matter that we see them three or four days a week. Bella's been living with her dad for a really long time. It's hard for her to not have him around. To trust Sue and the on-call nurse downstairs to monitor her father's health.
"It was our thing, you know?"
Honestly, I was pretty shocked he didn't end up coming over and watching it with us, but our schedules revolve around Elizabeth these days, and they just hadn't been able to figure out a good time.
"I know, baby." Cupping her face, I turn her so she's looking at me. I duck down and press my lips to hers, stroking a thumb across her cheek.
A gentle warmth blooms, but it's more of a sweet kiss than a sexy one. She pulls back from it after a moment and tucks her head into my chest again. "I just really wanted it not to suck."
We sit there in silence for a little while, her fingers playing at the open collar of my shirt while I run mine through her hair.
"You know," I say, an idle thought forming at the back of my mind.
"Just because this isn't really appropriate for her, that doesn't mean you can't still share the Muppets with her. It's not like they don't have a backlist."
"Yeah, I know." She sighs heavily and snuggles in a little closer.
Figuring we're done for now, I grab for the remote. "You want to watch the Supergirl premiere instead?"
She beams, leaning up for a quick peck on the lips. "I knew I married you for a reason."
And we snuggle in and begin.
A few nights later, I get home from the lab to find the house smelling like heaven, which—no offense to my wife—means Sue and Charlie are probably here. Sure enough, I find them all in the living room. Bella's curled up the floor with her back up against her father's legs. Charlie and Sue are sitting on the couch, and Elizabeth is perched in Bella's lap.
Spread out in front of them is the entire collection of ancient Muppet show DVDs.
"Hey." I wander in, taking care to step around all the discs and toys.
"Hey!" Bella smiles bright and wide, lifting her head for a kiss.
I give it to her gladly. Elizabeth is holding her hands up and blubbering. I set my messenger bag down to scoop her up, hauling her up over my head to blow raspberries against her belly before flopping down on the floor beside my wife and depositing the kiddo safely back into her arms.
"Dinner'll be ready in half an hour," Sue says, "so if you want to get started…"
Bella looks to me. "You don't mind, do you?"
I take a second to lean back.
There are three generations of us in this room, some of us attached by marriage and some by blood. Nothing about any of us has ever been particularly traditional.
But that doesn't matter. We have our own traditions. We make our own kind of family and love with our own kind of love.
And if forty year old campy TV shows about puppets are going to be the glue between us, then so be it.
"Not at all," I say, cuddling my two best girls nice and close.
It's time to play the music...
It's time to light the lights...