Worry's for another day.
Let the music play,
Down at Fraggle Rock.
Work your cares away,
Dance your cares away,
It was a normal day in the workshop. Doc had run to the hardware store in need of a new volt meter, and Sprocket had spent the day relaxing on his doggie bed.
Sprocket was just in the middle of a very nice dream where he had finally pinned the neighbor's cat, Fluffinella, in a corner and was about to exact his sweet revenge on her for using him as a heating blanket and scratching post during the winter's last great snow storm, when Doc suddenly burst through the workshop door, startling the poor dog awake.
"Wake up, Sprocky!" he announced cheerfully, "You'll never guess who I ran into at the hardware store!"
Sprocket rubbed the sleep blearily from his eyes and rolled out of his bed, gazing up at his master as if to say, "Who?"
"It was amazing, Sprocket," Doc went on, "it's been years, and I certainly never expected to run in to her at Fleming's Hardware Store."
Sprocket's interest began to perk up. He wagged his tale and let out an encouraging, "gruff."
"Who would have thought it after all this time, Sprocket? That I should run into Lumila Perkins, my old high school girlfriend!"
Sprocket's ears dropped and his shoulders slumped as if to say, "Oh, is that all?"
Doc gave his best friend a good-natured scratch behind-the-ear. "Lumila and I had the best times back then! We were both in wood shop together and we had such fun building things! Spice racks, end tables, bird houses, you name it!"
Sprocket started to pant happily, pleased that his master was in such a good mood from meeting his old friend.
"You know, Lumila was the one who really encouraged my inventing."
"Aroo?" asked Sprocket.
"Oh yes," Doc replied, "Whenever I came up with some crazy idea for a new invention she'd say, ‘You know, Doc, you ought to give it a try. You never know until you try.'" Doc sat down onto his work stool and sighed. "Sprocky, sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if Lumila and I had stayed together."
Sprocket nodded thoughtfully.
"Don't you think it would be nice to have a woman around the workshop?"
Sprocket pondered, he hadn't really considered it before, it had always just been him and Doc, but if it made his master happy, he didn't see why not. He waggled his tale and stood up on his hind legs, "woofing" softly and licking at Doc's face.
"I built some of my best inventions when she was around, including my free-standing automatic hairdresser and fry-cook. Remember that one?"
Sprocket looked up at his master, confused.
"No, that was before your time, of course. Oh, but it was a good one, Sprocky! I won first place in the Junior Tinkerer's Competition that year!"
"Arooo," said Sprocket, impressed.
"You know what, Sprocket? I think I will give Lumila a call and see if she'd like to join me for a cup of hot cocoa!"
"Arf!!" Sprocket encouraged.
Doc pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, and picked up the phone. "It'll be so nice to have Lumila around again," he said as he started to dial, "of course, the only downside is she hates dogs."
"Reep?!" Sprocket exclaimed, suddenly not liking this idea anymore.
"But, we'll just have to learn to adapt. You don't mind sleeping outside, do you, Sprocket?"
"Rour-rye!?" Oh, no!, Sprocket thought to himself, growing incredibly agitated. He shook his head wildly, "No!"
"I knew you would understand," said Doc, obliviously. "Hello, Lumila?"
Sprocket slumped into a defeated heap on the floor.
Tara Fraggle, a wise and serene, artistic and nurturing fraggle, took a step back from the canvas she was working on. It was a painting of her best friend, Willow Fraggle, doing the Fraggle Hop, the most popular dance currently being danced at Fraggle Rock. Tara had used the paints that Willow had given to her a couple days earlier as a gift for turning 600 days old.
Now Tara was using Willow's gift to create a gift for Willow. It was a fraggle tradition, and certainly one of Tara's favorites.
The fraggles had a lot of traditions, and Tara liked that. Tara found that keeping with tradition made her feel happy, and inspired her artwork, poetry and songs.
Tara sighed happily as she added one last stroke of red paint, using her tail as a brush.
"All done," she stated proudly. "Now to just let it dry."
She reverently picked up the canvas and easel and set it carefully by the entrance to her fraggle-cave where it would get the most air. She turned back to her new paints and began cleaning up and putting them away.
"Tara!" Willow's voice carried through the fraggle tunnels.
"In here, Willow!" Tara called out from over her shoulder, "I have a surprise for you!"
"Really?" Willow's voice was closer now.
"Just watch your step when you come--"
"Whoa, Ah!" Willow tripped over one of the easel's legs and fell into it, smashing through the canvas.
"In," Tara finished. Spinning around at the sound of the crash, she looked down to see her best friend's real head sticking through the canvas where her painted head had been. "Oh no! Willow, are you alright?"
Willow rose to her feet, the painting of her dancing body swinging on her neck. "Ooo," she moaned, rubbing her head, "who put that there?"
"I did," Tara explained, "the paint was drying. It was supposed to be your surprise. I made it with the present you gave me."
Willow struggled a moment, but managed to pop the painting off of her head.
"Oh, gee, I'm sorry Tara."
"It's alright, Willow. I'm just glad that you're okay."
The redheaded fraggle took a moment to examine the picture's remains, "Wow, it looked like it was really good. Thank you."
"Can I still keep it?"
"You don't want it like that, do you? I could paint you another one."
"Oh, no, Tara!" said Willow, "This one's perfect! You painted it, and I put on the finishing touches!"
Another voice echoed through the cavern. "Tara Fraggle! Special message for Tara Fraggle."
A female fraggle appeared a the cave entrance wearing an official looking sash.
"Are you Tara Fraggle?" she asked, addressing Tara.
"You know I am, Cecile," Tara chuckled good-naturedly.
"Hey, Cecile," said Willow.
"Hey, Willow. Tara, I'm supposed to give this to you, now that you're 600 days old." She held up a sealed parchment and offered it.
"Oh, well thank you, Cecile!" She said, taking the message.
"You're welcome. See you later!" She left quickly.
"Bye!" Tara called after. She examined the folded paper curiously.
"Well, aren't you going to open it?" asked Willow.
"I wonder what it could be."
Willow was growing impatient. "Open it and find out! It's probably just a late Happy 600th Day card from Gobo or something."
"You're probably right," she agreed. "Well, let's see." Tara opened the note and started to read,
"Dear Tara Fraggle,
As a fraggle who is 600 or more days old, and thereby have reached Fraggle Maturity, you are hereby invited to join the Ritual of Choosing to be held this evening in the Great Hall and..."
Tara's eyes grew large.
"...where you will choose your Fraggle Complement for the next 100 days!"
She could barely contain her excitement. "Oh, Willow! Finally! The Ritual of Choosing! I've been looking forward to this since I was only 250 days old!"
"Wow, Tara, that's great! You get to choose your Fraggle Complement!" Willow paused a moment, suddenly confused, "Uh, Tara?"
"Yes, Willow?" Tara asked dreamily, holding the invitation to her chest and sighing.
"What exactly does ‘Fraggle Complement' mean?"
"It means you get to choose another fraggle to be your best friend, companion and partner for the next 100 days. You even live together in your own cave! Oh, I'm so excited!"
Willow suddenly wasn't so sure this Ritual of Choosing was such a great idea. "But, Tara, I thought I was your best friend."
"Oh, Willow, you are!"
"Well then, who are you going to choose?" Willow felt pretty certain of the answer.
"I'm not really sure," answered Tara. "There's a list here of the other eligible Fraggles. Hm. Gobo's nice, but he'd never choose me."
"Don't say that," despite being surprised Tara hadn't instantly chosen her, Willow hated hearing her friend put herself down.
Tara continued down the list. "Wembley, oh no, he's too indecisive. Even if I did choose him, he probably wouldn't be able to make up his mind to choose me back."
"They have to choose you back?" Willow breathed an internal sigh of relief.
"Oh yes, it's all part of the tradition. Who's left? Uck, no, Felix the Fearless, he's just so, so..."
"Precisely. Hm. After him the only others are Cecile and Fiona, besides me of course."
Willow finally saw her opportunity. "Well, what about me?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you said I was your best friend..."
"But this is sort of different. I mean, anyway, you're too young to join in the ritual."
"I am not!"
"You're only 450 days old."
"Oh, well, okay, I am so." Willow found herself scrambling for ground, "But, Tara, it's called the ‘Ritual of Choosing', right? Well, can't you just choose not to ‘Choose?'"
Tara gasped at the thought. "Oh, the idea! Why would I choose not to take part in one of our most sacred traditions?"
"Willow, I'm surprised at you! You know how important our traditions are to me."
"Now, if you will excuse me, I have some important choosing to do." Tara turned her back and let out a soft, "hmph."
Willow stared at her friend's back, not sure where the conversation had gone so wrong. She felt hurt by Tara not wanting to choose her, and even more hurt that she insisted on going through with the ritual despite not knowing who to choose. It didn't make any sense to her to choose someone you didn't want to be with just because of a silly old tradition. She turned quietly, and left Tara alone with her thoughts.
After a few moments of silence, Tara turned to see the empty room behind her.
"Oh, Willow, I wish you could understand, this isn't just about choosing a best friend." Tara's eyes fell again on the invitation. "Which of you should it be? It has to be someone really special..."
Fraggles are very musical creatures, and the more she thought about who she would choose, the more Tara Fraggle felt a song coming on,
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, if you're blue,
Willow moped up through the tunnels on her way to the Great Hall. She was so sad about Tara and the Ritual of Choosing, that she just had to sing about it,
Anytime you want me,
If only Tara and Willow knew that they were singing together.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, if you're blue,
Willow continued singing as she reached the Great Hall.
You can tear my heart apart or take it whole.
"Well, take it." She finished with a sigh.
Willow slumped down on a rock next to some newly built doozer constructions. Doozers were tiny pale-green creatures, one-third the size of fraggles, who spent their lives building elaborate constructions out of sticks made of compacted radish powder. Fraggles loved to eat doozer towers, just as much as doozers loved building them.
Breaking off a piece of a tower, Willow took a bite and chewed it sadly. "Tara."
Doc struggled with his best bow-tie. It was the 8th time in as many minutes that he'd undone it only to re-tie it again. He had a dinner date with Lumila Perkins and was in a hurry to finish getting ready.
Sprocket whined and scratched and protested, trying to get his Master's attention. He had to stop this date from happening, or he would be sleeping out in the cold for good.
"Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!"
"Quiet, Sprocket, I'm trying to tie my tie." Said Doc. "I used to tie my tie ‘just so' when Lumila and I were dating, and I want to do it again."
"You're distracting me!" Doc finished and admired his handiwork, "Ah, finally. I was beginning to think I would never get it right." He grabbed his jacket and put it on. "I guess I'd better hurry, or I'll be late."
Sprocket's barking hit a note of desperation. "WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!"
"Alright, Sprocket, alright!! What is it?!"
Sprocket leapt into an elaborate pantomime where he illustrated the love he held for his master. He showed their deep interpersonal bond. How it would only devastate their functional and happy relationship to bring a third party into the mix. Especially someone who hates dogs! Hadn't he proven to his master how loyal, loving, and yes, even inspiring he could be? What more could he do to show that theirs was a sacred friendship driven by centuries upon centuries of men relying on the loyalty and generosity of their canine companions. Stay! Stay! Stay!
"Oh, Sprocket," said Doc, "I didn't know you felt that way."
Sprocket shrugged bashfully, and nodded his head in a serious and solemn manner.
"Thank you, boy," said Doc, "That was most deeply moving ‘Good Luck' I have ever received."
"I'll see you when I get back. Oh, you'd better go ahead and move your bed outside, just in case. Thanks, Sprocky!" And with that, he was gone.
Sprocket stared at the workshop door for a moment, completely bewildered by what had just happened. Then, slowly, he raised his paw and smacked himself in the forehead.
Willow made her way through the tunnels leading away from the Great Hall and toward the Gorgs' garden. She had decided to ask the Trash Heap for advice.
As she approached the fraggle hole leading into the garden, she heard the two familiar voices of Gobo and Wembley Fraggle coming from the other direction. Not wanting to talk to either one of them, especially because they were both in the Ritual of Choosing, Willow ducked off into a small alcove and listened in on their conversation.
"Hey, Wembley," said Gobo, "You want to hear the latest postcard from my Uncle Traveling Matt?"
"Oh sure, Gobo, what's this one about?"
"It's pretty strange, just listen," said Gobo, "Dear Nephew Gobo...."
It seems that the Silly Creatures are preparing to celebrate what appears to be their own Ritual of Choosing.
Uncle Matt wanders through a park where he watches couples cooing on benches, snuggling on picnic blankets, and hugging under trees.
Yesterday I observed a male Silly Creature offer a female a "smoothie" attached to a small golden hoop. As you know, a smoothie is a stone rubbed smooth and shiny and considered very special to Fraggles, which is why we give them to each other every year during the Festival of the Bells.
The young man kneels down and offers the ring to his girlfriend.
Unfortunately, the female Silly Creature did not seem pleased with the present, and began to attack the male.
The young woman jumps up and down for joy, and then leaps onto the man, wrapping her legs about his waist and bouncing up and down, causing the man to loose his balance and fall backwards, knocking him unconscious.
The Ritual of Choosing is obviously a dangerous time for the male Silly Creatures.
The young woman, trying to wake her boyfriend, begins slapping him about the face.
My only hope is to avoid as many female Silly Creatures as possible until it is over.
Love, Your Uncle Traveling Matt.
"Wow," said Wembley, his eyes wide.
"Yeah, I know," agreed Gobo, "I just hope that Tara doesn't do that to me when I ask her to be my Fraggle Complement."
"Gosh, Gobo, are you really gonna ask her?"
"Well, sure, I mean, of the rest of them, I know her the best, and she's always been a great friend."
"Don't worry, Gobo," assured Wembley, "I'm sure she'll choose you."
"I hope so," Gobo replied, "Say, have you decided on who you're going to choose yet?"
"Oh sure, I thought I'd choose Fiona."
"Unless, I choose Cecile."
"Oh, Wembley, will you ever make up your mind?"
As the pair of friends headed up the tunnels to the Great Hall, Willow emerged from her hiding spot.
"Oh no," she said aloud. "Gobo's choosing Tara? Of course she'll choose him back. What am I gonna do?" She paused a moment. "I'm.... I'm gonna leave! That's what! I'm not going to stick around and watch Tara choose someone else to be her best friend!"
Willow ran back to her fraggle-cave and quickly threw her belongings into a bag. After tying her bag onto a suitable stick, for over-the-shoulder carrying, she sat down and began to write a note to Tara, knowing that she would find it, explaining why she had to leave. As she wrote, she thought back on all of the happy times she and Tara had shared over their many days together as friends.
"Oh Tara," she said, "why can't things be like they used to be?"
Bring back the season.
Willow folded the note and wrote Tara's name on it, carefully placing it on her now barren bed.
She started toward the entrance to her cave, before looking back one last time. "Well," she said, "here I go."
Finally she forced herself to turn and leave.
"Willow!!" Tara's voice called out moments later from the other end of the tunnel. "Willow! I've made my decision! I can't wait to tell you who I'm going to choose!"
Tara came careening into Willow's empty cave.
"Willow, I was reading the Encyclopedia Fragglia and..." She finally noticed that her friend wasn't there. "Willow?" Glancing around, she saw the folded parchment resting on the rock-bed. It was addressed to her. "What's this?" she wondered. Opening it, she read, " ‘Dear Tara, I'm sorry that I upset you earlier.' Oh, Willow, you're sweet. ‘But you upset me too.' Well, I was being awfully stubborn. ‘I can't handle the idea of you choosing someone else to be your best friend. But, I want you to be happy, so I've decided to leave Fraggle Rock.' What?! Oh no!!"
Tara ran out of Willow's former cave and into the Great Hall.
"Help! Help!" she cried. "Willow's run away!!"
"What?" said Gobo, running over.
"Willow's run away!" Tara replied. "It's all my fault! She ran away!"
"Quick!," exclaimed Gobo, "Sound the Fraggle Horn!"
A loud, bellowing tone blew through the tunnels as the Horn was sounded, declaring a state of emergency. All of the fraggles came running into the Great Hall to find out what had happened.
"What is it?" cried one.
"Was there a cave-in?" asked another.
"Is it The Invisible Garboil?"
"The Terrible Tunnel?"
"No, no, no!" hollered Tara, "It's even worse!"
"Worse?!" All of the fraggles replied in unison.
"Willow's run away!"
"Willow's run away?!?" They all echoed.
"Tara, why did Willow run away?" Gobo asked.
"It's all my fault! I treated her horribly. It's so awful, I just have to...have to..."
"Have to what?" everyone asked.
"Have to sing about it!"
Well, I know it ain't right.
"Alright, everyone, split up and scour the caves! Willow can't have gotten far!" Gobo turned to Tara and took her gently by the hand. "Don't worry, Tara, we'll find her."
"I hope so, Gobo, she's never traveled beyond the Rock before."
With that, everyone headed out in separate directions.
Willow came to a stop in front of the Belching Boulder which marked the entrance to the Great Outer Maze. As Willow examined the rock carefully, it let out a massive burp.
"Yep, definitely the Belching Boulder." She looked to the cave entrance in front of her. "Which definitely makes that the Great Outer Maze. Home of the Invisible Garboil. Oh... I don't wanna go in there. I wish I knew these caves better."
Willow leaned up against the nearest cave-wall, thoroughly depressed.
"Oh, who am I kidding. I'm no Gobo. I'm not an adventurer. What am I trying to prove, anyway?" She glanced back at the way she came. "But, I can't go back. Not now. I don't want to walk back into the Great Hall just in time to see Tara and Gobo becoming each other's Fraggle Complements. Oh, this is terrible. I can't go back, and I can't go forward. So, I guess I'm stuck here."
The Boulder let out another, particularly disgusting, belch.
"With a giant burping rock for company," Willow slid to her knees and cradled her face in her hands." Oh, this is like a nightmare", she said.
"When I have a nightmare, my best friend always wakes me up and tells me everything's alright," said a wise, serene and all too familiar voice.
"Yeah, well, my best friend isn't here," Willow replied cynically.
"No. She's Gobo's best friend now. Or should I say, her Fraggle Complement?"
"Willow, what are you talking about?"
"I overhead Gobo talking to Wembley in the tunnels. He said that he was going to choose you tonight during the ritual."
"But Willow, I already told you, Fraggles can only be Complements if they Choose each other."
"Yeah, I know," Willow sighed.
"I didn't Choose him."
Willow finally looked up from her hands. "You didn't?"
"Well, no. The Ritual hasn't even started yet."
Willow dropped her head again. "Oh."
"But, I wasn't going to Choose him anyway."
"You weren't?" Willow didn't dare to lift her head again; for fear that Tara would only tell her that she'd chosen Wembley, or worse, Felix.
"Then... who are you going to Choose?"
"Well, I was... I mean... I am, going to Choose you." Tara placed her hand tenderly on Willow's forearm, inching her finger under her friend's chin, and lifting her face up again.
Willow was about to jump for joy, when she remembered, "But Tara, I'm not old enough to join the Ritual. You can't choose me."
"Well, I thought of that, and so I spent all day reading the rules of the Ritual of Choosing, and it turns out that only the Fraggle who asks first has to be 600 days old. So I can ask anyone I want, so long as they say yes, of course."
Willow leapt to her feet and grabbed Tara by the hand. "Come on, we'd better hurry!"
"We don't want to miss the Ritual of Choosing! Come on!!"
"So, you're saying yes then?"
Willow dove in and gave Tara the greatest hug she had ever given anyone. "I'd never think of saying anything else", she said, pulling back.
Tara kissed Willow softly on the cheek. "And I'd never think of asking anyone else."
Willow's yellow fraggle cheeks glowed orange with happiness. "C'mon, we'd better get back."
Willow and Tara arrived in the Great Hall just as the Ritual of Choosing was about to begin.
"The World's Oldest Fraggle will now welcome you to the Ritual of Choosing," announced one of the pages.
"Welcome to the Ritual of Choosing," said the World's Oldest Fraggle.
"The World's Oldest Fraggle will now begin the Ritual of Choosing," said the page.
"The Ritual of Choosing will now begin," said the World's Oldest Fraggle.
"The World's Oldest Fraggle will now ask Fiona Fraggle who she has chosen to be her Complement."
"Fiona Fraggle, who have you chosen?" asked the World's Oldest Fraggle.
"I choose Wembley Fraggle," said Fiona.
"Fiona Fraggle has chosen Wem-OW!" The page stopped abruptly as the World's Oldest Fraggle rapped the page soundly on the head with his official staff.
"I heard her!" He snapped. "That's quite enough of that silly business anyway. So, Fiona, you chose Wembley."
"That's right," said Fiona.
"Wembley, do you choose Fiona?"
"Uh... uhh..." the small green fraggle trembled in his fur. "I can't decide."
"You can't decide?" asked the World's Oldest Fraggle, giving him a healthy dose of the hairy eyeball.
"Well, I uh,...."
Wembley felt Gobo nudge him soundly in the ribs. "Just say yes."
"Oh, um, yes."
"Good! You two will be each other's Fraggle Complements for the next 100 days" said the World's Oldest Fraggle. "Who's next?"
"I am, sir," said Gobo.
"Ah yes, Gobo Fraggle. Who have you chosen?"
"Well, I..." Gobo glanced over in Tara's direction, "I..." He looked just past Tara to see Willow watching him anxiously. "I choose Cecile Fraggle, sir."
"Alrighty, Cecile how about you?"
"I choose Gobo."
"Great work!" said the World's Oldest Fraggle, "That was easy. Only two of you left. Who wants to start?"
Felix the Fearless began to step forward, only to have Tara cut him off.
"I will, your... your officiousness," she said.
"Very well then, Tara Fraggle, I suppose you choose Felix--"
"Really? Well then, who's it going to be?"
"I, Tara Fraggle, choose Willow Fraggle to be my Fraggle Complement."
A chorus of "ooh's" and "ah's" echoed through the Great Hall.
"Well," said the World's Oldest Fraggle, "I think that's a fine choice indeed. What do you say, Willow?"
"I... just have a quick question," said Willow.
A wave of gasps raced through the crowd. Tara suddenly felt very nervous, wasn't Willow going to choose her back?
"Go on," said the World's Oldest Fraggle.
"Well, what happens at the end of the 100 days? We don't have to stop being friends, do we?"
The World's Oldest Fraggle let out a loud, cackling laugh. "Youngin', I should bop you on the head. Of course you get to stay friends. You can even stay Fraggle Complements if you like. It's what ever you choose to do. That's why it's called the Ritual of Choosing."
"Oh." Said Willow.
"So, do you, or don't you? Will you, or won't you?"
Willow walked up to Tara and took both of her soft pink hands in her bright yellow ones. "Yes, I do and I will too."
They hugged tightly as the Great Hall erupted into a cacophony of cheers.
"Well, Felix the Fearless," said the World's Oldest Fraggle, "That leaves only you. Felix? Where's Felix?"
"He ran back to his cave, sir," said Gobo, "He said he just wasn't ready for a commitment."
"I guess he's not so fearless after all," said the World's Oldest Fraggle.
"No kidding!" said all of the fraggles at once.
Overwhelmed with happiness, Tara Fraggle began to sing, (and all the other Fraggles joined in too)
Well you know it's all right (know it's all right).
Sprocket waited anxiously by the door knowing that any minute his master would walk through the workshop door and give him the bad news. He heard the footsteps fast approaching, and moved away from the door just as Doc turned the key and walked in.
"Well, Sprocket, I had a wonderful time!"
"Haroo," Sprocket sighed, walking over the duffel bag he had started packing earlier in the evening, tossing in a few more toys.
"Lumila and I had so much to talk about, it was like old times," Doc went on, divesting his overcoat and hanging it on the rack.
Sprocket packed another box of dog food and his extra blanket, before zipping the duffel closed and putting on his winter hat.
"Yes, Sprocket, we talked and talked, and you know what I realized?"
"Erf?" he asked lazily, not really interested to hear what he felt was inevitable. He picked the duffel straps up in his mouth and started for the door.
"I realized that I like your conversation a lot more than hers."
Sprocket dropped the bag instantly. "Aroo?"
"That's right, Sprocket, I was thinking about it the whole time I was out." Explained Doc. "If I had to choose between Lumila and you, there was no competition, it's you all the way."
"Really. You're my best friend, and I wouldn't change that for the world." Doc whipped the hat off of Sprocket's head, "Oh, Sprocky, take that silly hat off, and unpack that bag! I'm going to make us some hot cocoa!"
"Ruff!" Sprocket happily complied.