Jim Henson’s Street Walkin’ Cheetah Babies

Last night, my daughter was very excited about the prospect of wolfing down some candy she’d been promised after dinner. (If you must know, it was a Kinder bar, a German confectionary whose creepy displays are ubiquitous in the Polish delis in our neighborhood.) The way she said “candy!” in an anxious cadence triggered something in my brain, and that something forced me to sing “Candy, candy, candy” a la the Iggy Pop tune of the same name that hit airwaves right around the time I started frequenting record stores as an almost-teen. I distinctly remember going to a local Strawberry’s and seeing the walls plastered with the Charles Burns artwork for Brick by Brick, and seeing that same artwork stay there for years.

Of course, I couldn’t sing “candy, candy, candy” just once. Thanks to several undiagnosed and serious mental illnesses, I felt compelled to sing it over and over, amusing no one except myself. Finally, The Kid asked me, “Is that a song?” By which she meant, Is that a real song or are you just singing it to drive us all insane?

Yes, I told her, it’s a real song by a guy named Iggy Pop. This name made her crack up, and I realized that to a 4 year old, “Iggy Pop” sounds like the dumbest, most hysterical name ever.

“Iggy Pop did songs?” she asked between the chuckles.

Yes, I told her. In fact, did she remember the commercial with the pirates in the boats? She did. I told her the song in that commercial was an Iggy Pop song, too. (Yes, I’m fully aware this is a Captain Morgan ad. It’s on TV all the time on every channel, guys. I’m pretty sure it’s in heavy rotation during A.N.T. Farm.)

“I like that song!” she said. “I like Iggy Pop. When I grow up, I want him to be my boyfriend.”

This last line has gone into heavy rotation lately. It’s been applied to virtually everyone she sees on TV and likes. Previous recipients of this honor include Daniel Radcliffe and Jose Reyes. She has eclectic tastes.

Normally, I would just laugh this off. But the idea of my daughter wanting to date Iggy Pop, no matter how hypothetical and far into the future, set off some primal Dad Warning in my brain. So I told her, You probably don’t want Iggy Pop to be your boyfriend. He’s old and kind of weird.

“Does he have good manners?” she asked. No, I said, he does not have good manners. He did lots of silly stuff on stage. I realize “silly” is not quite the adjective to describe someone who used to snap mic stands in half and carve up his chest with the broken ends. But silly is as close as we’re gonna get here.

Then I remembered that the quickest way to discourage someone from thinking they like Iggy Pop is to show them a picture of Iggy Pop. I have a book of glam/punk photos by Mick Rock, a large coffee table slab I snatched up for free when some philistine abandoned it at an old job. I pulled it down off a very high shelf and flipped to a pic of Iggy on stage, grasping the mic, shirtless and adorned with makeup. (Think the cover of Raw Power.)

That’s Iggy Pop, I said, and she immediately recoiled.

“Ew!” she said. “I don’t like Iggy Pop. Boys shouldn’t take off their shirts. Girls don’t wanna see that!”

Oh no, they definitely don’t, I said. I showed her a few more pics of Mr. Jim Osterberg, and she remained convinced that she didn’t like Iggy Pop. Crisis averted. Except, now she wanted to see the rest of this book, which contained many photos of things it’d probably be best a four-year-old not see. Like Lou Reed.

So I swapped the photo collection for another large, artsy book, this one on Tex Avery, and we spent the next several minutes looking at classic cells and sketches of cats getting their heads blown off.

A few minutes later, she said to me, unprompted, “You’re a good dad.”

Thank you, I said. Why am I a good dad?

“Because you’re not in jail.”

Can’t argue with that.

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