Caroll Spinney shares a trash can with Oscar the Grouch when he performs as Oscar on Sesame Street. because Caroll understands Grouches so well, Oscar chose him to write and illustrate his very own book about How to be a Grouch.
How to be a Grouch, by Oscar the Grouch 8.0
Do you have a favourite childhood toy, something that you were dearly attached to, or that brings back the fondest of memories, even making you nostalgic? For some it might be a doll, a game, a baseball glove, or even a video game. For me, it was a little book called ‘How to be a Grouch’.
I still remember finding it at the grocery store called Dominion at a mall called St. Laurent. It was part of the Golden Book series and this was one of the pocket versions, at about 5 inches by 4 inches, and it only cost 25 cents. Because it was so cheap, my mother indulged me and bought it on the spot.
I’m not sure what pulled me to it. I don’t recall being a huge fan of Oscar the Grouch at the time. Perhaps I had perused it and found it funny enough that I wanted it. Whatever the case may be, I still remember what I thought of it once I’d gotten entirely through it – it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen.
I would go around the school yard showing it to all the kids, trying to find another person who thought the same, but it was a lost cause – very few (if any) thought that a book showing people how to be a grouch was hilarious. I guess they didn’t appreciate the daftness of the material – let alone its ironic side.
How could they not find it amusing that Oscar would tell us to stop being “nice and cute” and then teach us to frown? He would also show us what grouches look like, where they live, how they travel, what they eat (my favourite: chunky fish ice cream!) and also how to make a grouch pie. It was awesometastic!
It would even show us how to sleep poorly to wake up grouchy, how to start the day to be and remain grouchy (my favourite: Be sure to get up on the wrong side of bed!), and the kinds of things that make Oscar particularly grouchy in his everyday life. You can’t get more inspirational than that!
I loved that book. Unfortunately, it eventually got lost in the shuffle, as many things do when you’re a kid. Either my mom got rid of it (along with many of the things that she thought took up space – as she would do from time to time), or I misplaced it. But I never forgot it; it was too near and dear to my heart.
Many years later, now in adulthood, I decided to track down a copy. It wasn’t easy: where does one find a book that almost no one has ever heard of, and that’s long out of print? I looked around, but alas. After months of searching, I eventually found one on eBay, and swiftly snatched it up! It was the find of the year!
I’ve since read and re-read ‘How to be a Grouch’ and it still amuses me to this day. I also show it to any indulgent friend who has yet to see it (who knows, it might be a life-changing experience for them too!). Sadly, even now, I can’t find anyone who really gets it. Le sigh. Still, I keep it neatly tucked in my library, as reference… and at th ready.
Perhaps it’s thanks to this book that I am such a successful curmudgeon. Maybe, without it, I would have been one of those miserable, insufferably “happy” people. Ick. Who wants that? I’ll forever be grateful to Oscar and his book (which was actually penned by Carroll Spinney, Oscar’s puppeteer) for my grouchiness.
I highly recommend ‘How to be a Grouch’ to any bright and cheery person looking for a change. Be a Grouch: it’s the best decision you’ll ever make!
…and if you don’t do it for yourself, then at least do it for the rest of us! Please, and thank you.
(just kidding, of course!)