Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A friend, a nugget of wisdom, and two scoops

I took the train to picturesque New Brunswick this evening to visit a college friend whom I haven't seen since graduation. We met in a freshman seminar under the umbrella of library studies, and now -- lo and behold -- she is a proud guardian of knowledge and promoter of reading by profession. (At least two out of the nine of us in that class actually went on to graduate studies in the topic.) She was wearing a necklace with tiny writing on it, and I waited until I was about to leave before asking what it said. She replied, much to my amusement: "You can never go down the drain. -Mr. Rogers."

When life gets tough, these are good words to keep in mind, whether you are 2 or 22 or 82. It reminded me of how I cried shamelessly when Mr. Rogers died, and also when I watched a few moments of an episode or two afterward. His TV show was meant for the youngest of the young -- the kids who just barely know how to speak -- but the innocent, honest and forthright way that he explained the world just got to me. It's easy to think that the world we live in as adults and the one he described on "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" were different, but they're not. At their most basic, these two worlds are the same; it's just too easy to forget this fact until -- I imagine -- you have a recently minted human being on your hands who needs to be molded and comforted and taught how to do basic things and how to internalize basic truths. He had his detractors -- and yes, sometimes the Land of Make Believe was a little hokey -- but I think he was one of television's greatest educators.

Besides all that, we also had a pair of delicious blend-in ice cream cups from a Central Jersey institution -- in my mind, at least -- Thomas Sweet's, before I hopped back on the train to come home.

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