Big Bird: After the details of my contract dispute became public, I couldn’t get arrested in this town. There’s not much demand for freakishly tall birds with androgynous voices, you dig? I did car-wash commercials, dinner theater, Bar Mitzvahs. But after years of eating birdseed and renting a shoebox of a cage in the city, you start thinking, Maybe I should just get a nest out in the country, somewhere the air is actually sweet. It’s beautiful here in Wyoming, if you can overlook the Christofascism. I’ve gotten into long flightless hikes and bought a pair of binoculars for people-watching. Strangers sometimes come up to me on the street and say I look familiar, ask if they went to elementary school with me and whatnot. I smile and say I just have one of those beaks.

Oscar the Grouch: Turns out the dummies who grew up on me couldn’t get enough Oscar, so I started moonlighting as an insult comic. They carry me out to the stage in a covered garbage can, and I wait till the idiots are begging for me. Then I lift my head under the lid, real slow-like, and go, “What’re you lookin’ at, you white-trash motherfuckers?” They love it. A thousand bucks a night and an endless supply of Muppet groupies coming through Branson, Missouri.

Big Bird harbored dreams of moving to the country, where the air is actually sweet.

Cookie Monster: Each night when show end, me not know what to do wid meself. So me do what me always do to fill void: me eat cookies. But me develop Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, deep-vein drombosis. Da endocrinologist say me not last long if me continue down dis road. Me fatalistic—me say cookie monsters have average life span of only 16 years, what da big deal? But den me meet wonderful kale monster. Vanessa get me to see dat life worth living after all. Now me eating vegan before six p.m., me exercising, me even cutting out milk. Me have “cheat” day when me allowed to eat as many cookies as me want … but me not even want dat many anymore—just twenty or dirty.

Count von Count: I was an early adopter of Bitcoin, way back in 2009, 2010, 2011, ah-ah-ah! Made $20 million, was convicted of tax evasion, did three, four, five years in a minimum-security prison. Everyone thought I was “down for the count,” ha-ha! Got fifty million back. Neglected my personal life. One, two, three! Three divorces, ah. Always a foolish romantic—never got a pre-nup. A-ha-ha-ha!

Bert: If you re-watch Seasons 42 through 45, it’s painfully apparent Ernie and I were staying together out of familiarity—or, in truth, the terror of being alone, even from our separate beds. I always had a thing for bad puppets, and Ernie was the quintessential rebel: feral, lustful, controlled by no one except Jerry, the guy operating him. Whereas I possessed a certain professorial sophistication beyond his upbringing. It worked for a while, but we were just tragically incompatible. For example, whenever Ernie saw my neatly stored collection of paper clips and bottle caps, he’d get this manic, chaotic look in his eyes and fling them everywhere for someone to clean up—that someone invariably being me. In hindsight, it’s amazing we roomed together as long as we did. (Long pause, nods head repeatedly) I’m really happy for him and Telly.

Elmo’s upbeat persona wasn’t just natural effervescence.

Elmo: Oh, boy! Elmo loves talking about what goes on behind the scenes of Sesame Street! The whole time Elmo was on the show, Elmo was hooked on uppers! Anytime Elmo went out, strangers would offer Elmo a bump in the restroom so they could say they got high with a Muppet! Elmo hid Elmo’s addiction by adopting a persona of always being upbeat and “on.” Elmo went to the Betty Ford Center to kick Elmo’s addiction, but Elmo is also in therapy now, doing the work to figure out why Elmo’s such a people-pleaser! Dr. Glass thinks it’s because Elmo is technically considered a monster, and Elmo believes deep down inside that that’s what Elmo is—a monster! Ha-ha-ha-ha!

Snuffy: Sesame Street? I harbored a lot of anger for years at that place. To go to work every day and just be ignored, and have that be your “thing,” no less … Everyone knew it was a completely fucked-up situation, but they were all terrified of Jim, the great genius, so I had to go along to get along. Then Big Bird and I had a falling-out over a screenplay we were collaborating on. I’m way happier as a stay-at-home dad to our litter of eight Snuffleupagi. I make sure to tell each one of them that all their feelings are valid and real, and, just as important, that they’re real. They tell me they feel seen … Aw, hell, now you got me all emotional. (Clears snuffle) Think I’ll give that goddamn bird a ring.

Teddy Wayne is the author of five novels, including The Great Man Theory