Posted on April 29, 2022
If they can hate something like that, you wonder how easy it would be for them to hate something more important
On December 1, 1997-oh, heck, once upon a time-a boy, no longer little, told his friends to watch out, that he was going to do something “really big” the next day at school, and the next day at school he took his gun and his ammo and his earplugs and shot eight classmates who had clustered for a prayer meeting. The shootings took place in West Paducah, Kentucky, and when Mister Rogers heard about them, he said, “Oh, wouldn’t the world be a different place if he had said, ‘I’m going to do something really little tomorrow,'” and he decided to dedicate a week of the Neighborhood to the theme “Little and Big.” He wanted to tell children that what starts out little can sometimes become big, and so that could devote themselves to little dreams without feeling bad about them. But how could Mister Rogers show little becoming big, and vice versa? That was a challenge. He couldn’t just say it, the way he could always just say to the children who watch his program that they are special to him, or even sing it, the way he would always sing “It’s You I Like” and “Everybody’s Fancy” and “It’s Such a Good Feeling” and “Many Ways to Say I Love You” and “Sometimes People Are Good.” No, he had to show it, he had to demonstrate it, and that’s how Mister Rogers and the people who work for him eventually got the idea of coming to New York City to visit a woman named Maya Lin.
Architects are people who create big things from the little designs they draw on pieces of paper. Most famous architects are famous for creating big famous buildings, but ous for creating big fancy things for people to look at, and in fact, when Mister Rogers had gone to her studio the day before, he looked at the pictures she had drawn of the clock that is now on the ceiling of a place in New York called Penn Station. A clock is a machine that tells people what time it is, but as Mister Rogers sat in the backseat of an old station wagon hired to take him from his apartment to Penn Station, he worried that Maya Lin’s clock might be too fancy and that the children who watch the Neighborhood might not understand it.
Mister Rogers always worries about things like that, because he always worries about children, and when his station wagon stopped in traffic next to a bus stop, he read aloud the advertisement of an airline trying to push its international service. We hate that. Hate is such a strong word to use so lightly. He had makeup on his face and a dollop of black dye combed into his silver hair. He was wearing beige pants, a blue dress shirt, a tie, dark socks, a pair of dark-blue boating sneakers, and a purple, zippered cardigan.
He looked very little in the backseat of the car
Then the car stopped on Thirty-fourth Street, in front of the escalators leading down to the station, and when the doors opened-“Holy shit! It’s Mister Fucking Rogers! This was not a bad thing, however, because he was in New York, and in New York it’s not an insult to be called Mister Fucking Anything. In fact, it’s an honorific. An honorific is what people call you when they respect you, and the moment Mister Rogers got out of the car, people wouldn’t stay the fuck away from him, they respected him so much. Oh, Margy Whitmer tried to keep people away from him, tried to tell people that if they gave her their names and addresses, Mister Rogers would send them an autographed picture, but every time she turned around, there was Mister Rogers putting his arms around someone, or wiping the tears off someone’s cheek, or passing around the picture of someone’s child, or getting on his knees to talk to a child.