Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dreaming in the Neighborhood.

Last night's dreams were not unlike many of my dreams. A major portion of it involved my defending against an alien invasion. (Large, tentacled monsters like those in "Half Life".) The space fighter I was climbing into was suspiciously like a WWII Spitfire. Then, like dreams are wont to do, it changed gears and I was entering a house that looked like that of my Great-Grandmother in Homestead. I was part of a tour, and once inside the scene changed again to that of the offices of WQED. Specifically, it was the set of Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

I grew up watching Mister Rogers on the television. Twenty years later while my daughter was growing up watching him on the TV, I met him a few times when I was a delivery driver for Kinkos. Metting him was little more than greetings in the hallway but from seeing him sitting on a couch reading or working behind the scenes to produce his show, one could easily see this was the same person. The Mister Rogers who sang "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood" while he changed from loafers to tennis shoes was not a persona he put on with his sweater or an act, it was exactly who he was. What you saw on television was the way he was in person and the way he was when he spoke before Congress. When the camera panned over the model of the neighborhood and he came through the door one had the impression that he had walked there because he had actually walked to work that morning. I saw him regularly walking through Oakland on his way to or from the studio.

And in my dreamscape, it wasn't incongruous for my Great-Grandmother's house to seamlessly transform into Mister Rogers' house. In a sense, he was like a part of the family. He was the kind of relative every child deserves to have instead of the asshat uncle we actually got.

In my dream, I turned the corner to the darkened Neighborhood of Make-Believe set. The castle of King Friday XIII. The tree of X the Owl and Henrietta Pussycat. It was exactly as it was on television, except that it was empty. Lifeless. Fred Rogers died of stomach cancer in 2003. In my dream, I cried alone in that darkened soundstage, tears unselfconsciously pouring down my face. Even now as I write this, I feel the sadness for the world having lost such an irrefutably good person.

Good-bye, Fred Rogers. We still miss you.
Fred Rogers

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