Scatterbrained: for the love of Mr. Rogers

I watched a ton of TV as a kid.My Saturday mornings consisted of me consuming several large bowls of Frutti Pebbles or Frosted Flakes while sitting on our old, ragged and musty couch.

Meanwhile, my innocent, unwavering, gaze fixed itself on the warm, comforting, cartoon glow flickering from my living room television set.

Saturdays were sacred. They were the one sure thing a kid could count on after tackling the mental death-march that was the seemingly endless school week.

My developing brain digested everything from “Ducktales” to “X-Men” – from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to “Gummi Bears” – and turned it into a mind-feeding buffet of seemingly useless knowledge that, to this day, I can still recall at the most random of moments.

I learned a lot from the ol’ idiot box, but few TV shows crafted my personality more than “Sesame Street” and “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

“Sesame Street” taught me that everyone was different, but in a good way. School yard fights generally involved the bigger, tougher, kid shoving grass, dirt, or gravel down the quiet, misfit kid’s shirt.

“Sesame Street” taught me that tough-on-the-outside kids were generally unhappy cowards on the inside. I learned to ignore them, and eventually began to feel a slight bit sorry for them, as they usually had some sort of problems at home.

And while some may argue that excessive amounts of television as a child may have affected my attention span, I credit my desire for a variety of experiences and change to “Sesame Street,” who always encouraged pursuing a vast wealth of cultural knowledge.

“Mr. Rogers,” on the other hand, taught me to hate puppets.

All right, so that’s not entirely true. To me, the worst part of each episode was the Magical World of Make Believe. I didn’t care about the trolley. I didn’t care about King Friday. And I didn’t care about live actors socializing with hand puppets.
But the rest of the show was great. To this day, Mr. Rogers always seems to make me feel a little better about life in general when I come across an old episode clip on YouTube.

Fred Rogers had this way of speaking to the camera that made you feel like he was talking directly to you through the TV screen. I still find myself occasionally talking back when he asks a question. Hey, at least I can admit it.

But he taught me to chill out when life decides to swell up and kick you in the proverbial gonads. Whenever I was feeling down and out or felt like tearing the heads off of my G.I. Joes, there was Mr. Rogers, telling me how special and cool I was.

Laugh all you want. Go ahead. I’ll give you a minute.

But I can’t deny the impact that these shows had on me as a kid. I doubt anyone who watched them growing up can. There was just something comforting about them. They made you feel in place.

But scarfing down several bowls of Capn’ Crunch never hurt anyone, either.

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