When my youngest brother was five, he really liked Mr. Rogers. No, really, REALLY liked him. A lot. Pure, simple like. He liked him as only a misguided five-year-old can. I mean, this is a kid who sat riveted to the TV when Mr. Rogers came onscreen, and was once heard remarking to my mother, "Mom, doesn't Mr. Roger's look especially nice today?" Oh, ho, ho! Yes he DID. And as he was way little and my sister Jenny and I were your average, run-of-the-mill teenagers, we did our best to cure him of this like.
"Joshua, Mr. Rogers is a geek."
"No, he's not! Mr. Rogers is my friend!"
"He's a geek."
"Shut-up! He's my neighbor!"
"He's a geek! He's a geek! He's a GEEK!"
My mother would usually put a kibosh on the fun, which was so unfair, as we had a valid point. I mean, come on. Clearly, any grown man who plays with puppets and owns a ginormous ding-dinging Neighborhood Trolley set which carries him and his puppet friends with names like King Friday XIII, Henrietta Pussycat, and Lady Elaine Fairchilde (although I always liked that name; it's fun to SAY!) to and from the Neighborhood of Make-believe via his window seat can legitimately be labeled an unequivocal geek. The Geek Master. Geek-O-Rama. There's no way around it. Am I right?
And this is not even to mention the inherent weirdness of his shoe-toss and sweater ritual. What was that about? I still can't look at a zippered cardigan without thinking of Mr. Rogers singing, "Would you be mine, could you be mine, won't you be my neighbor?" Brr! KUH-REEPY.
Which reminds me of my point. Because I totally have one. You were wondering, weren't you? I tend to ramble on and on without a point at times, which is what TGIM tells me anyways, which is rude, as it is just because my mouth is going so fast that my mind can't keep up-- or is it that my mind is whirling so fast that my mouth can't keep up?-- which you would totally think would be alleviated with the act of typing but it's NOT, but whatever, I just wanted to make sure it is clear that I SOOOO have a point.
Oh! "Won't you be my neighbor?''! Right! Just kidding! I totally didn't forget what I was going to say, causing me to ramble on and on and on until I remembered! Duh! As if!
Okay, so I come from a pretty big family by today's standards. Two older sisters, three younger brothers. My youngest sib, the one feeling the Mr. Rogers' luuuuuuv in his youth, came along when I was twelve. On Halloween. Let me tell you, a little thing like Mom giving birth wasn't going to stop us kids from Trick-or-Treating! Oh, hell no! And just between you and me? I think five children ranging in age from 16 down to 6 showing up at the hospital in full costume, yelling and waving and pounding on the glass between us and our new little brother, may have permanently scarred the boy. Perhaps. Well, how else can a person explain his inexplicable love for Mr. Rogers, huh? That's all I'm saying.
Wait. Did I mention that he also admired and emulated the vocal stylings and funky dance moves of one Mr. Michael Jackson? And what about his obsession with The Phantom of the Opera? Yep. I'm telling you. Scarred. For LIFE.
Anyhoos, as we were a family of modest means, and as my two older sisters shared a room, and my two younger brothers shared a room, guess who got to share a room with Joshua? If you guessed "Cat did!" you are so totally correct. Well done! Yep, he had the bottom bunk in my bedroom until he was almost five years old, which was cool, since he went to bed early and didn't wake up when I snuck in late from parties and dates. (Not that I ever snuck in late from parties and dates, Mom. That would have been wrong.)
I honestly didn't mind. I mean, sure, he broke the antennas off of every single stereo and television I ever owned, and often could be found playing in my underwear drawer, but it was all good. Honestly. Well, until THAT night. The night he freaked me out beyond belief. The night that marked the end of our peaceful coexistence.
Let me set the stage: so there I was coming in late from a part-- I mean, coming in totally within the reasonable boundaries of my specified curfew. I flipped on my closet light rather than the main light as I always did, out of consideration for my wee roomie. It cast a soft, gentle glow across the bedroom, which was all I needed to get undressed and ready for bed. Now Josh was usually a heavy sleeper, mind you, so when I heard him stirring that fateful night, I turned toward him in surprise and put my hand on the light switch, ready to snuff it out if it looked as if he were going to wake.
And then it happened. To my mounting horror, slowly, oh-so-slowly, Josh sat up in bed, his eyes wide open and unblinking, his arm outstretched, his face blank and lifeless, and his little five-year-old finger pointing straight at me. I couldn't move, y'all. I was frozen with terror.
Then-- in a creepy, redrum-like, Children of the Corn, singsongy voice that I will never forget, NEVAH!, no, not as long as I live!-- he spoke.
"Won't you... be... my neighbor?!"
Then without another word his arm dropped, his face went slack, and he fell back onto his mattress with a snore.
I swear to all that is holy, it took hours for my heart to stop its whickety-whack jackhammering in my chest. There may as well have been twins of him, or blood running down the walls! He could have shouted "Heeeeeeeeere's... Joshy!" or something for all it mattered. I mean, I saw The Shining! I saw The Exorcist! He was clearly possessed. I couldn't possibly have been more scared.
Okay, well maybe had there been a knife involved, I could have been an iota more frightened, but as that was not the case it's a moot point so let's move on, shall we?
To this day, I cannot look at a zipped cardigan sweater or slip-on canvas shoes without reliving this horrifying moment. Trolleys kind of freak me out, too. I'm just saying.
Fortunately, my little bro put all this craziness behind him. Today he absolutely SHUNS Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood (although I am sure he shed a tear at Fred Rogers' passing, may he rest in peace), and currently enjoys the musical stylings of Strung Out, Pantera, Death by Stereo, Van Halen, and Guns N' Roses.
So if your little one is obsessed with Barney or The Wiggles, the Teletubbies, or even the musical stylings of, say, Britney Spears (oh, dear LORD! and ew!), don't waste another moment worrying! My brother totally turned out completely normal. See?:
- Ern commented:
OK, I can understand that your brother sleep talking and sleep sitting and POINTING at you may have scarred you, maybe turned you a bit cold on the whole Mr. Rogers thing.
But I really can't sit by and allow you to say snide things about Mr. Rogers. I love him! He is a wonderful man who slows down to a child's pace, actually talks to them and sings nice songs. Plus all that work he did for PBS and junk. Of course you didn't like him when you were a teenager, but maybe NOW you can appreciate good ol' Fred?
- » 11/15/2005 11:17 AM
- Cat commented:
Oh, ern, ern, ern... have I hit a soft spot?
Shouldn't the fact that I know a few too many of the puppets' names-- as well as the names of Mr. Rogers' human neighbors, such as Lady Aberlin, Mr. McFeely (the Speedy Delivery Man!), and Chef Brockett-- tell you something?
And I might have, perhaps, busted a tear when I heard that one of Mr. Rogers' infamous cardigans is proudly hanging in the Smithsonian as a national treasure. MAYBE. It's all a blur, really.
- » 11/15/2005 11:41 AM
- Amy commented:
Too funny! The finger pointing possessed by a polite TV man brother!
That pic is an awesome end to this post, Cat. Well done.
- » 11/15/2005 2:38 PM
- mrtl commented:
That's just a little creepy. And is that a gun in his hand??
- » 11/15/2005 3:05 PM
- WILLIAM commented:
Very Creepy. did you know that Michael Keaton was a featured Extra on Mr. Rogers. Batman Himself.
- » 11/15/2005 3:36 PM
- Random and Odd commented:
*LOL* dear god woman, what did I do on the internet before your blog?
- » 11/15/2005 4:13 PM
- not-so-normal mom commented:
Ha ha ha ha ha! BTW, you should totally buy your brother the Mr. Rogers book for Christmas, it rocks. I love the picture, too. I wonder what I'm doing to my kids...They know all the words to "Grease", "Moulin Rouge", some songs by Barry Manilow, and all the words to "Baby Got Back", and "Shoop". I'm sure there are more, but I do know that it's especially frightening when they are singing "Grease Lightening". I think Mr Rogers is something that we should be proud of!
- » 11/15/2005 9:45 PM
- LadyBug commented:
Okay, I second mrtl's question. IS that a gun in his hand?
- » 11/16/2005 9:05 AM
- Cat commented:
That is most definitely a gun in his hand. A shotgun, if I'm not mistaken. Yeppers.
- » 11/16/2005 9:39 AM
- LadyBug commented:
Oh-KAY. I thought the gun was pointed at his head, but now that you've said it's a SHOTGUN, I looked at the picture again, and I can see the barrel crossing over behind his neck.
What a relief. I was thinking he had flown into a Mr. Rogers-incuced psychotic rage, and was holding himself at gunpoint!
- » 11/16/2005 10:32 AM
- Bente commented:
OMG! I just saw a commercial for a new show starting here, Cat. Veronica Mars! I got so excited and had to tell you that I came out to the computer before the commercial finished so I don't know exactly when it starts. But still! Now I'll get to see why you love it so much. Yay!
- » 11/17/2005 3:15 AM
- ieatcrayonz commented:
Nice gun, there.
This story is awesome.
- » 11/19/2005 9:06 AM