When my friend gets particularly angry, her primary coping method (other than swearing, which she does quite well) is to start singing the theme song from "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood:"
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhoodWell, one morning after a particularly long night at the office, I was driving back downtown and heard a review of Music From The Neighborhood, a tribute to the beautiful songs written and scored by Fred Rogers for his long-running PBS show. And I thought of my long-suffering co-worker immediately.
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Would you be mine?...
Could you be mine?...
So as soon as I got to the office, I ordered it from Amazon. And - predictably - it was backordered.
It finally got here Thursday.
By the time I'd gotten in on Friday, things had evidently been going south for a while. So when I got to my desk, my co-worker's first snappy comment was, "Well, look who's finally rolled in! Where da'Hell have YOU been?" I smiled and said, "Hmmm... let's see what Uncle Steve has in his bag for Miss Grumpy today..." And I pulled out the CD, and handed it to her.
She took it and said, "What da hell is dis?..." and then she got a look at the cover art. She said, "Oh, my GOD...I can't believe this..."
And she got up and gave me a big hug.
(OK, that was more like it.)
And she proceeded to listen to the silly thing all the rest of the day. Her obvious enoyment of the music made the whole thing worthwhile.
But here's the really sappy part.
First, confession time. I don't think I've ever seen an entire episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in my life. (No, I don't know how that happened, either. But I'm pretty sure it's true.) I had no idea about the show; couldn't name any of the characters; knew nothing of the show's music (other than the first 4 lines of the show'd title song); and I knew even less of the life of Fred Rogers himself.
That is, until tonight.
I came home from a day of running all over hell's half acres, opened my own copy of Songs from the Neighborhood, and sat down to watch the companion "making-of" DVD.
And that's when I started to cry, too....
This powerful obituary on CNN.com said,
In 1963, he was ordained a Presbyterian minister with a charge to continue his work with children and families through television... He said, "I believe that those of us who are the producers and purveyors of television -- or video games or newspapers or any mass media -- I believe that we are the servants of this nation."Now there's a ministry.
That's why he got into television in the first place.
"I got into television because I hated it so," he said. "And I thought there was some way of using this fabulous instrument to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."
By closing, I leave you with the lyrics from one of those songs I'd never heard before tonight. I know that Fred Rogers sang this song to the kids he cared for so deeply, and not to me. But as I listened to this CD, with a smile on my face and sappy tears of joy in my eyes, I heard a message from the God that Mister Rogers served - a message to all God's kids, me included:
It's you I likePreach it, neighbor...amen, and ever amen.
It's not the things you wear
It's not the way you do your hair
But it's you I like
The way you are right now
Way down deep inside you
Not the things that hide you
It's not your toys - they're just beside you
But it's you I like
Every part of you
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new
I hope that you'll remember
Even when you're feeling blue
That it's you, yourself
It's you I like