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Mister Rogers

Won't You Be My Neighbor

October 7, 2018

Sandra Heath Unrest

What do you do with the mad that you feel When you feel so mad you could bite? When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong… And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough? Do you round up friends for a game of tag? Or see how fast you go?

It’s great to be able to stop When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong, And be able to do something else instead And think this song:

I can stop when I want to Can stop when I wish I can stop, stop, stop any time. And what a good feeling to feel like this And know that the feeling is really mine. Know that there’s something deep inside That helps us become what we can. For a girl can be someday a woman And a boy can be someday a man.

Won't you be my neighbor? Won't you please be kind? Won't you be respectful? Will you dishonor my bid to be kind, thinking I'm odd because of it? Odd to be nice? Let's go back to being nice to people, like Mr. Rogers was. Nice to everyone. No more mean tweets. No political arguments on Facebook. No slurrying women who have a voice. None of that.

I watched the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor last night and it was wonderful. It made me cry. I had watched Mister Rogers religiously when I was young, loved his artificial low-budget set and how he fed his fish. King Friday wasn't my favorite, but I loved Lady Aberlin and Daniel, the striped tiger, with those clear, innocent shiny, green eyes. And the trolley to a distant land.

I feel aged, like fine wine, remembering how I used to enjoy Mister Rogers and similar shows like Captain Kangaroo, Sesame Street, Electric Company and Zoom. My nostalgia made me cry like a baby last night when the ending credits of Won't You Be My Neighbor rolled.

Now, I'm looking forward to seeing how my favorite kind and gentle actor, Tom Hanks, will portray kind and gentle Mr. Rogers in a fictitious movie.

But first, a final episode of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown is on tonight. Another show to watch and break down and cry like a baby. But oh, how food and television can bring people together. Tonight, I will wipe away my tears and think only of happy thoughts. Won't you be my Neighbor?

My little brother recoiled in horror. But I, in the proudest moment of my young life, stood up smartly, grinning with defiance, and volunteered to be the first. And in that unforgettably sweet moment in my personal history, that one moment still more alive for me than so many of the other "firsts" that followed—first xxx, first joint, first day in high school, first published book or any other thing—I attained glory. Monsieur Saint-Jour beckoned me over to the gunwale, where he leaned over, reached down until his head nearly disappeared underwater and emerged holding a single silt-encrusted oyster, huge and irregularly shaped, in his rough, clawlike fist. With a snubby, rust-covered oyster knife, he popped the thing open and handed it to me, everyone watching now, my little brother shrinking away from this glistening, vaguely sexual-looking object, still dripping and nearly alive. I took it in my hand, tilted the shell back into my mouth as instructed by the by now beaming Monsieur Saint-Jour and with one bite and a slurp, wolfed it down. It tasted of seawater . . . of brine and flesh . . . and, somehow . . . of the future. Everything was different now. Everything. - Anthony Bourdain

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