The Tigger Pen

This is a story about puppets.

During middle school, the one big project from FOCUS (the gifted/talented program) was the annual debate program. During the fall, everyone got a topic, a side, and two teammates. Two of us were in charge of making three points for our argument and had to give a short speech on why. After each of those rounds we were subjected to questioning from the other side. The final round was rebuttal, where the third player countered the six points from their opponent. I’m sure there’s a name for this format but I don’t know it myself.

The topics were never anything too controversial — during seventh grade, for example, the topic was “getting rid of zoos”. We got a few weeks to research this. Since we were seventh graders responsible for three minutes of argument, we mostly wasted the time doing stupid things in whichever open classroom we were assigned to that week.

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During one of those time waste sections, my friend was using a novelty pen she got from Disney World. It was a light up pen with a cute 3D plastic version of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh and some green feathers on the top. Tigger was attached to a spring, so he danced around whenever you used the pen. Obviously, this is the kind of thing a 12 year old would love the hell out of.

We were all talking as she used the pen and eventually the conversation turned into us talking about this majestic pen. And the gears started turning once I played with it.

It seemed like less of a feather pen in the moment and more like a pen in the grass. And it looked like Tigger was walking around in it with every bounce. So I decided to write a song about this.

The song was (inventively) titled “Walking In The Grass” and was sung in the kind of vocal falsetto register that only a pre-pubescent middle school boy is able to hit. It was also performed with a really bad faux British accent. The lyrics of this song are as follows:

Oh, I’m walking in the grass

Do do do do do, do do do do do

And I’m eating all the grass

Do do do do do, do do do do do

And I’m so happy!

Nothing about this performance was reaching anywhere beyond “passably mediocre”, but it made a pretty good reception so I did it a couple of times during this debate unit. I even added some other characters to the cast — in addition to Tigger and the grass, there was a talking shark named Shärk, who spelled and pronounced his name with an umlaut for no real reason.

The debate unit ended but I kept going with my own puppet show — I redesigned all the characters on index cards and made my own puppets, and even wrote a sequel song called “Grass Goes Where Grass Grows” that was far more complex of a narrative than it had any right to be. But by the time this was ready to go, the unit was over and the middle school attention span had shifted elsewhere. I quickly packed my puppets up and moved on to something else: dumb comic book reality shows.

After doing some research lately, I’ve managed to find the exact pen but not where I can buy one. I’m gonna keep looking — even though I have no intention of ever bringing this puppet show back, I’m fond of the pen and it’s the kind of stupid memento that people like having.

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