Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's Always A Beautiful Day In My Neighborhood, Fred

Somehow, in the course of an argument over who is hotter, Amy Adams or Idina Menzel,

(It's Idina Menzel)

I somehow was reminded of how much I love Mister Rogers. Let me paint a picture of my childhood for you. I was raised by my loving family, most notably my maternal grandmother, who was my primary caregiver during my early childhood. My grandma Z is wonderful person, always ready to express love and able to talk to a child on their level. Especially about their fears.

Grandma Z used to do this thing that, in hindsight, is probably the reason for my enduring night terrors. She used to go in and take her bath at night, and every time she would yell, "Help, Jenny! Help!" I would come running and find the tub was empty of water, and my grandma was missing. "Grandma, where are you?" I would yell, and she would answer, from some far off place, "I went down the drain!" I would run over to the tub to peer down the drain (and now, since you've never seen what my grandparent's bathroom looked like in the 80's, you have no concept of how scary the tub was, but the walls were crumbling and the drain was all rusty and forbidding) and then, when I was frantically yelling, "Wait, I'll get help!" she would spring from her hiding spot and scare me.

I fell for it every time. Because I was four.

Anyway, one afternoon I was watching Mister Rogers on PBS. And he had this to share with me:



"See, Grandma!" I shouted triumphantly. "I can never go down the drain!" I can't remember what Grandma was doing at the time, but it was the kitchen. Actually, no, I do remember. She was making donuts for her dad for his birthday. And she said, "Mister Rogers is a liar." My aunt Mary, who was a teenager living at home at the time, said, "Mister Rogers is a pervert."

I didn't know what a pervert was, but I knew what a liar was. It meant I could still go down the drain.

Oddly enough, even though I had been assured that Mister Rogers had lied to me, I still loved him. And I still do. I learned about hanging chads from Mister Rogers:



I learned about being cool:



Most importantly, I learned about being kind. And for all my swearing and wishing that people would burn to death while exploding in the vacuum of space, I truly am a good person. Just the other day, when I was lamenting to my mother that my kids are missing out on Mister Rogers, she said, "I'm sure you could download it from the internet." And I said, "I couldn't do that. It would be stealing. Stealing from Mister Rogers. And he told me stealing was wrong."

Basically, the best piece of advice I can give anyone is, if you're in a situation where you don't know what to do, think, "What would Mister Rogers do?" and then do that. And remember that you can never go down the drain. No matter what my Grandma might tell you.

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