Being the Bert

Bert and Ernie

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.


47 Comments / Post A Comment

oh my god i’m such a bert oh my god

i mean i like spending money on experiences and beautiful things – i’m not at all a stingy scroogey grinch! but sometimes another $12 cocktail is not worth it and I hate getting shit for being stingy from friends (who make more). it’s just that my value system is different!

cryptolect (#1,135)

I realized the other day that my dream is to have a life that is so well-scheduled that I never have to remember—or decide—when to do things. I would love to floss at 10:30pm every night, menu-plan and grocery-shop on Sundays, go to book club on the 21st of each month, see a movie when the seasons change and take in a Broadway show once a year. This is my dream. (My sister is also a Bert, as she realized when she got kind of upset that he didn’t have his own Band-Aid in the Sesame Street Band-Aid pack.)

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@cryptolect would you like me to proselytize to you about David Allen’s Getting Things Done?

cryptolect (#1,135)

@HelloTheFuture Yes, yes I would.

Marille (#5,933)

@HelloTheFuture I’m taking your recommendation, and watching his TED talk right now. It’s awesome!

I feel like I’m a Kermit with Gonzo rising if that could be a thing.

I am married to an Grover with Animal tendencies. Guess who does our bills?

Marissa (#467)

I’m definitely of a Bert and also a Telly. Remember Telly? He’s the anxious monster. I need to embrace my inner Ernie and Grover a little more.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@Marissa Oh my goodness I LOVED Telly. We need more Telly!

Liz the Lemur (#3,125)

I’m mostly a Bert in all things, but it really comes out when trying to make plans with a group. I will never understand people who are content to keep saying “I don’t know/care what we do, I’m game for anything” endlessly in circles. it doesn’t help that I have slightly border collie-ish tendencies – I get uncomfortable when groups of people aren’t behaving in an expected way and sticking together. And I strongly dislike that if I want to make sure that plans I’ve made are kept, I need to confirm them the day before.

AitchBee (#3,001)

@Liz the Lemur “border collie-ish tendencies” A+ description

siouxtse (#4,718)

@Liz the Lemur GROUP OUTINGS ARE THE WORST. In my family we called it the “county fair syndrome”. Nobody ends up happy (probably some do, but only those with like -50 blood pressure).

BillfoldMonkey (#1,754)

@Liz the Lemur Oh my god I’ve never actually thought of myself in that way before but yes. Border collie. I feel like this is a whole new piece of self-knowledge.

sherlock (#3,599)

@Liz the Lemur Yes! With my friends, this especially manifests itself with people never wanting to make concrete plans more than 24 hours in advance, and it drives me INSANE. I think it’s mostly personality difference, but also the fact that a)I work late pretty frequently and b) used to live in an inconvenient part of the city. Advance notice greatly increases the probability I can attend. Now that I live closer I am trying really hard to “go with the flow”, but it is still a pet peeve.

@Liz the Lemur OMG can we please be friends because you are singing my song right there.

My OpenTable points are basically all accumulated by being the only friend who will step up and make a decision and set times and places.

RiffRandell (#4,774)

I personally feel that I am an order muppet who presents as a chaos muppet in many social settings. My evidence of my order muppet nature is “But if your house catches on fire and you know precisely how to rescue your Schumann CDs in under 15 seconds, you’re an Order Muppet.” That is me right there.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)


kellyography (#250)

My closet is ALSO sorted in ROYGBIV order. I didn’t really think it was so notable until right now. Do most people not do that?

Here is a not-so-secret: I have never really liked the Muppets. I KNOW.

garli (#4,150)

@kellyography In 10,000 years it would never occur to me to sort my closet in ROYGBIV.

thejacqueline (#799)

@kellyography Definitely not a Thing. Though it would seem handy!

I organized my closet by colors once, and it was pretty nice because I could find anything away, but I didn’t stick with it the next time I did laundry because I am indeed a Chaos Muppet.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@garli I don’t think I would even be capable of doing such a thing, not even at the beginning in the ok this is perfect kind of way, nevermind in maintaining it. I’m not that color attuned. Maybe if there was a lettered or numbered sorting system, then sure. My mom always complains about her childhood(/teenage years because she was so tiny) wearing Garanimals but I think I could get into that.

cryptolect (#1,135)

@kellyography I tried to do it once but most of my dresses have at least four or five colors (the one I have on right now is brown, orange, yellow and white) so it’s kind of impossible. Sometimes I do it by length? But mostly it ends up with things I wear in the center, things I don’t wear at the edges.

Wait, you don’t like the Muppets? I don’t understand. Do you also not like pizza?

honey cowl (#1,510)

@kellyography I don’t like muppets either.

garli (#4,150)

I can relate to: 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.

That does not make me a Bert. Cookies in the bed? All day. Making my bed? Not for 1000 dollars. Making lunch for the week? Easy. Cleaning up the kitchen post lunch making? Never in 1000 years.

Also if anyone has seen my keys, please let me know.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@garli Yes. Whatever you are, I am the same. I can be hyper-aware and organized when it comes to things like bills – especially if I can do it all online! – but God help me if I need to find anything and event planning is not my bag.

Allison (#4,509)

@garli I was making my bed for like a week, it was cool! but I sleep like a burrito so it couldn’t last.

thejacqueline (#799)

I am the anti-Burt.

cryptolect (#1,135)

@thejacqueline Burts are cool, though (Burt Lancaster, Burt Reynolds, Burt Bacharach). It’s the Berts that are nerds, and nerdily do things like distinguish between Berts and Burts. Which I guess proves your point.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@cryptolect Someone has spliced together images of Bert, Bert Cooper, and Bert the Chimney Sweep dancing, right?

thejacqueline (#799)

@cryptolect Oh man I just Chaosed all over that spelling on accident (my former 4th-grade spelling bee champion self is ashamed)

thejacqueline (#799)

@cryptolect also I don’t want to be the Anti-Burt because I have a weird thing for 70’s Burt Reynolds, ok

jfruh (#161)

100% BERT

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

I am the Swedish Chefs.

JK I am a Bert, too. I love a good routine. And my closet is organized by color and style (black pants, white shirts, colored shirts, patterned shirts, black dresses, patterned dresses, etc).

I get that Bert tries, but just has to deal with the chaos of other Muppets. They don’t exactly foil his plans, they do get in the way. Reminds me of the whole ‘Bert is Evil’ meme, which is actually about the ‘Anti-Bert’.

Jerry Skids did a great SpinTunes song on that meme called ‘Not a Nice Guy’.

j a y (#3,935)

Financially I am so Bert. If Bert had credit card debt, which I doubt, it would be only for strict necessities or presents for Ernie.

Gastronomically, I am Cookie monster

I’m a Bert, trying to learn to be like Kermit.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@Amy Darigol@facebook May we all strive to be like Kermit.

Oscar the Grouch who, you know, is basically an order Muppet with the appearance of Chaos. I mean, he’s got his own place, loves routine (oh yeah), and is also a Grouch.

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@Carmen Aiken@facebook Oscar is by far one of my favorite Muppets. :)

sherlock (#3,599)

I have the honor of being told I was a Bert by some rando friend-of-a-friend that I had the misfortune of interacting with once! We were taking the same metro line home very late, and were cutting it pretty close to the metro closing. I was brand new to the city, he got us hopelessly lost despite telling me he knew where he was going, and then had the nerve to mock me for having a map with me which I used to get us to the station! I was incredibly stressed the entire time, and apparently this reminded him of Bert. I have never met him again, but I still hate him so much.

Sloane (#675)

When I was in high school, I would take my baby-sitting checks to the bank and ask the teller to give me one dollar bills. Then I’d raid the deposit envelope counter for some extra envelopes. All because I had an envelope system for my money. Total Bert.

Marille (#5,933)

@Sloane That is both the Bert-est and the best.

guenna77 (#856)

i don’t really relate on that spectrum. i’m generally pretty good with money- i know how much i have and save very well and have detailed budgets- but i’m not stressing out over another round of drinks. i insist on having the details for outings if they are the kind of things that depend on details – tickets, flights, if people are visiting me, etc. and get stressed out if they aren’t forthcoming. but i’ll also get stressed out if someone tries to plan out every microsecond of a vacation, especially if they insist upon my input and that input requires research.

eemusings (#6,021)

@guenna77 this.

@guenna77 You’re a Miss Piggy.

Marille (#5,933)

Team Bert for life! My closet isn’t ROYGBIV-organized, but it is still color-sorted (blues, blacks, browns, pinks, etc.)I know how much money is in my account, and I have automatic saving for both retirement and my emergency fund. Best? I’ve set an alarm on my phone to tell me when it’s bedtime, so I can put things away and go to sleep. Sometimes, maintaining my systems can be stressful, but I’ve realized that I’m way less stressed when I have a system that makes sure I’ll get enough sleep and have enough money.

RiffRandell (#4,774)

@Marille I also have a bed time alarm! People tell me it is weird, not weird!

AliahMoldovan (#3,960)

I think I have found my people here…..boder collie-ish tendencies, ROY G BIV closet, oatmeal for breakfast.

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