Being the Bert

I’m a Bert.

I like plans, routine, lists, and well-organized libraries. My closet is sorted in ROY G BIV order. Also, I eat oatmeal nearly every morning.

There are probably a lot of us Berts out there. We’re the ones who hang out on the far extreme of the “Order Muppet/Chaos Muppet” spectrum. Even though Kermit is also an Order Muppet, we’re not Kermits. The other Muppets like it when Kermit offers suggestions and takes a leadership role. When Bert tries to do it, it’s the setup for Bert learning an important lesson about going with the flow.

Going with the flow is extremely hard for Berts. We’ve got our bank balance in one segment of our fuzzy Muppet brains, and every time we’re out with friends and someone suggests another round of drinks, we literally see the subtraction problem appear, and the numbers — which of course have eyeballs and mouths, they’re Muppet numbers after all — jump up and run away, or maybe get carried off by pigeons, or disappear down the hole in the pinball game.

Berts know exactly how everything is supposed to go and then spend the rest of their lives wondering why the world doesn’t work that way. Berts gave up lattes years ago. Berts always pick the company 401(k) match. Berts can tell you, right now, exactly how much money is in their bank accounts, how long it will take to pay off their credit cards, when they’ll be able to buy that new pair of penny loafers that they’ve had their eyes on.

Bert isn’t rich, of course. He seems financially stable enough, but he’s still living with a roommate as an adult. He really only owns one good sweater. And that bothers him. Bert wants to be better. He can see the path to “doing better” stretching out before him, like it were a math problem to be solved or a dance step to be executed.

Except the other Muppets get in the way. Not just Ernie — Bert’s figured out how to live happily with Ernie, after all — but all the Muppets, everywhere. They ask things of Bert that don’t fit into his plan. They really like ordering the biggest hamburgers or planning crazy road trips or staying up late to look at the stars.

They want Bert to dance with them, even though that will mess up his own dance steps that he’s trying so quickly to tap out.

I can’t be the only Bert on The Billfold. Anyone else want to admit to being the most orderly of the Order Muppets? We can share advice in the comments.

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