By Leah Bush
Interpersonal connections are not a given; humans cannot meaningfully love others without loving themselves. Andy Bryan examines this idea in “Cookie Monster Searches Deep Within Himself and Asks: Is Me Really Monster?” Cookie Monster, the narrator and protagonist, instantiates this notion in two ways: he concedes that selfishness is inherently monstrous and that his selfishness hampers his capacity to connect with others. Immediately he admits, “Me know. Me have problem,” and for a total of nine sentences depicts his addiction—his tendency “to get out of control when me see cookies”—by beginning each line with an anaphoric “me.” The use of anaphora provides the first inkling that Cookie Monster is selfish, but the humor found in Cookie Monster’s syntactical idiosyncrasies also softens the blow of revealing his deepest flaws and their impacts on his insecurities.
Cookie Monster not only admits that he has flaws but also intimates that he is helpless in overcoming them, and his perception of helplessness thwarts any possibility of connecting with his peers. Helplessness, moreover, causes just the opposite: cookie binges that happen only in isolation. Cookie Monster claims that after each binge “me try but me never able to wash all of [the crumbs and chocolate chip smears] out,” suggesting the persistence of Cookie Monster’s attempts at filling his emptiness and loneliness with cookies. He desires, then, to replace the addictive cycle with something more meaningful, if not longer lasting: companionship.
Bringing the “me, me, me” anaphora from the beginning of the story full circle, Cookie Monster states,
Me no eat cookies,
Me destroy cookies.
Me crush cookies,
Me mutilate cookies.
Each line progresses from Cookie Monster scrutinizing himself to Cookie Monster scrutinizing his increasingly destructive snack annihilation, imparting a tone of furious loneliness. That each line stands as an individual paragraph parallels the idea that each man, each monster stands for himself and himself alone.
Me make it so no one get cookies.
Me really is cookie monster.
Cookie Monster establishes a harsh distinction between himself and others by juxtaposing the negative “no one” with the positive “everyone.” The juxtaposition further implies that Cookie Monster views himself as so much less than Others, which creates a new dimension of Cookie Monster’s conception of himself as a monster both nominally and essentially: he cannot connect with others because he regards himself as being beneath them for his monstrousness, but this monstrousness in no way diminishes his all too human desire to connect.
Leah Bush is an essayist and frequent contributor to Letters to McSweeney’s.”The Cookie Cannot Hold” is an excerpt from her collection, MEDITATIONS ON THE CHAIR: SERIOUS READINGS OF MCSWEENEY’S HUMOR (Mrs. Morris, AP English Literature and Composition). She is a senior in high school.