Sunday, March 02, 2008

Mister Rogers, The Sweater & Me

Fifteen or more years ago, in the lingerie secion of Bloomingdales (I can't make this stuff up), a fortysomething store clerk (perhaps an early-adopting "cougar") said upon inspecting my MasterCard, "Benjamin. Hmmm. That's a nice name. Like a warm sweater."

The description flattered me. And it stuck with me. I remembered it just now, as I reflected upon Mister Rogers forthcoming 80th birthday and its attending celebrations. From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

March 20 would have been the late children's TV host's 80th birthday, and Family Communications Inc. is urging everyone -- not just in Pittsburgh, but all over the world -- to wear a favorite sweater that day in honor of Fred Rogers' legacy. Family Communications is the production company behind the long-running "Mister Rogers" public TV series.

Mister Rogers said he wore a sweater “to make it seem like a comfortable time. It’s a symbol of staying a while, of settling down for some quiet time together.”

Of course, Mister Rogers' Grandmother McFeely sewed each one for him. One (which Chris and I vistited in August, 2006) hangs in The Smithsonian today.

I'm not sure that Bloomingdales clerk was prescient or not. That is, I don't know if I am anything like a warm sweater. I hope so. I certainly aspire to being warm and approachable. Mister Rogers certainly was, in spades. He was the epitome of warm and approachable. It takes great courage, I think, to be that way.

Madelaine D'Engle said, "Rightousness begins to reveal itself as that strength which is so secure that it can show itself as gentleness."

Most days this time of year, I wear a cardigan over my dress shirt but under my sport coat. And most days, I think, I exhibit some warmth. Regardless the weather come March 20th, I plan on both in remembrance of the man who has helped me become more of a man myself.


Magenta said...

Thanks for the L'Engle quote. Needed it in times of struggle. Some people do evoke that fuzzy sweater feel, you can see it in the eyes. Be well, Martine

Linda said...

I took comfort in the ritual as much as the sweaters. The playful way he would zip the sweater in time to the music. I still think of him when I get home from work and trade the slacks and heels for the sweatpants and slippers. I'll be wearing a cardigan on the 20th and feel Fred's hug!

Caitlin said...

A friend forwarded me your website after I wrote a blog about re-discovering Mr. Rogers as an adult, and learning about what a truly amazing individual he was. I am in awe of this man. I simply don't know any other way to put it.

In conversations with other friends since posting that blog, I've found that my friends feel the same way.

I can't wait for your documentary - I just know it's going to be a smash success.