Growing up, I lived in the country so, automatically, I was a reluctant member of the "Kids Without Cable Club". Kinda like the "Mickey Mouse Club" but different...we didn't have a catchy theme song and we certainly didn't have any funky hats. If you weren't a member, you didn't miss much. It was a crap club.
As a preschooler, the only fellas I had to help wile away my post-breakfast/pre-lunch hours were The Friendly Giant and Mr. Dress Up. Mr. Rogers hadn't made it up into my neck of the woods. I'm not even sure when I first met Fred, he kind of just weaseled his way into my collective consciousness. Maybe I caught an occasional glimpse of him when I was visiting my cousin who lived in Streetsville and had waaaaaayyy more channels than I did. She had at least 8, maybe even 9. I'm not sure if she actually had cable or just lived further south than me and therefore was closer to the States so her rabbit ears could pick up some American signals...dunno... but I clearly remember meeting Captain Kangaroo and Commander Tom at her house...
waaaaiiiiit a minute...
Why were all the children's show hosts creepy middle-aged dudes??
Speaking of creepy, I'll get back to the actual subject of this post, Mr. Rogers...
Actually, here's a quick aside...
~A Quick Aside/Stream of Consciousness Tangent- Remember Eddie Murphy's sketch on Saturday Night Live called Mr Robinson's Neighborhood?? Awesome.~
Ok...back to creepy.
I began to spend a bit more time with Fred after my daughter was born. She kinda liked him, so every now and then we'd watch. I don't know why but that show always made me a little uncomfortable and never more so than when he did an episode that followed him as he went through his daily ritual of going to the pool in order to swim some lengths.
It was perhaps the weirdest 10 minutes of television I'd ever seen.
The camera actually followed him into the change room where he slipped into his Speedo, which was weird enough in and of itself, but THEN there was an underwater shot of him swimming above the camera in his SPEEDO...
Mr. Rogers in a SPEEDO.
Swimming above the camera.
That image was burned indelibly into my brain and has stuck with me through thick and thin for over 14 years (which is slightly longer than my dumb Erstwhile Husband did...BAM!). I think it might've robbed me of several years of my life...and I think it also explains one or two of my current mental health issues.
The thing is, no one else had ever witnessed it and everyone would look at me kinda strange-like whenever I'd bring it up. So, eventually, I just buried it deep down inside my squirrelly little brain and tried, in vain, to forget all about it.
Until last week...
I saw a video on Facebook (which I'll get to later) that brought it and all its beSpeedo'd splendour back up to the forefront of my mind. I needed to prove to myself that this episode actually existed and wasn't something I had made up in my state of early motherhood sleep deprivation.
So, being the Internet Genius that I am, I did some Internet Investigation and did, in fact, find a video of Mr. Rogers swimming ...but he was wearing plain ol swimming trunks NOT a Speedo ...damn...AND he was swimming with a boy.
Isn't that one of the creepiest things you have EVER seen. And what's with the music??
As bizarre as that clip is, I wasn't convinced that I was looney enough to have morphed plain ol' swim trunks into a yucky Speedo, so I dug a little deeper and came up with.....
THIS!!!! <----- for full impact of THIS!!! please click on that link. Thank you.
Check out the screenshots about mid-way through the page. There is a pic of him swimming and those are definitely NOT plain ol' swim trunks.
I'll actually copy and paste an excerpt from a book some lady wrote about Mr. Rogers and refers specifically to a Speedo.
HA!! I'm NOT a looney.
See for yourself:
- As for the footage of Mister Rogers' swim, I think Amy Hollingsworth touches on this perfectly in her bookThe Simple Faith of Mister Rogers:
Even when he showed us something he was good at -- his diaily discipline of swimming -- he demonstrated another side of his vulnerability. He wanted to show his television neighbor where he swam each day, so a camera followed him to the locker room and shot him as he took off his suit and bow tie (we saw him from the shoulders up, but we still knew he was disrobing). He donned a real swimming suit, not the long bathing trunks used for leisurely swims. He slid off the rim of the pool, and the underwater camera showed his pale body swimming to and fro, muscles lilting. He was all alone in the water: no cardigan, no blue sneakers -- just Mister Rogers in a Speedo. The images were underlaid with dulcet music and were almost lyrical to watch, but equally difficult. You almost felt like you should look away, he was so vulnerably exposed; but that was Fred, laying bare his best gift, his honest self.
I actually think that SHE is the one who is a bit looney.
What she sees as vulnerable and honest I saw as creepy and super crazy disturbing.
Chacun son gout, I guess.
Now that I've established that I am totally and completely normal ...har har...by proving that Fred Rogers did some f&*king creepy stuff...
... I will go on to explain how I've forgiven Fred for scarring me for life and actually admit that I've developed a sort of begrudging fondness of and appreciation for the man.
A couple of weeks ago, I was spending far too much time looking a cool stuff on Pinterest and I happened upon this picture:
I LOVED THIS!! And it kinda began to melt the icy grossed-outtedness I had felt towards good old Fred for over a decade.
So, last week, when I watched the video I mentioned earlier in the post, my anti-Mr Rogers resolve had already begun to weaken.
Here is that video:
Isn't that sweet...in a weird auto-tuned creepy kinda way??
Fred Rogers, you are A-OK in my book.
You were a good man who did good (and creepy) things.