Mister Rogers and Bob Ross: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Bob Ross and Mister RogersFair warning: you might not want to waste you’re time reading this.

The other night my sons went and saw the new movie/documentary about the life of Fred Rogers, most notably known as Mister Rogers. For about 30 minutes they proceeded to tell me about the movie and how good it was. It obviously left an impression on them, so much that one of my sons decided to order a Mister Rogers t-shirt. I may or may not have done the same.

And then we watched an episode on YouTube. It was a wild night at the Barnard household. But it didn’t end there.

Somewhere between my head hitting the pillow and my 6am alarm going off, the Trolley apparently took me to the Land of Make Believe. For those of you who were, and may still be, Mister Rogers fans, you’re tracking with me. Somehow I found myself on the simple set of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watching the filming of a show. But this was no ordinary episode. The special neighbor who came knocking on the door that day was Bob Ross, the painter who made Phthalo Blue and Titanium white common vocabulary. He was moving to the neighborhood. (On a personal side note, it doesn’t get any better than having Bob Ross and Mister Rogers in the same neighborhood. If you got tired of cardigans and canvas shoes you could just go over to Bob’s house and paint happy little trees and beat the devil out of paint brushes.)

The show focused on Bob Ross coming over, as a new neighbor in the neighborhood, to teach Mister Rogers how to paint. But something went terribly wrong. Mister Rogers kindly asked Bob not to paint without a drop cloth, which he did not have with him. Bob told Mister Rogers that he didn’t bring one with him but that he was very good at what he did and would be very careful, to which Mister Rogers insisted that he not paint. And I’m watching this unfold before my eyes.

Bob started making fun of Mister Rogers’s cardigan and canvas shoes. I gasped. You just can’t do that. To my surprise, and not to be outdone, Mister Rogers pointed out that Bob Ross had a fro that you could see through. You could’ve heard a pin drop. They locked eyes and stared at each other.

Bob took his 2-inch paint brush and threw it at Mister Rogers. Fortunately he missed Mister Rogers but did hit King Friday who had shown up after hearing all the commotion. Mister Rogers took off one of his canvas shoes and threw it at Bob Ross who was quick enough with his paint palette to block the sneaker, but ended up mixing Phthalo Blue with Van Dyke brown and Yellow Ochre, thus making a hideous new color. It was sheer madness. How in the world could two of the nicest guys, who were PBS legends, who lived in a quiet neighborhood, and who had an affinity for cardigans and happy little trees, end up at odds with one another?

And realized it was just a dream. I am hoping though, that somewhere in this dream world, there is reconciliation and a show of good will in Mister Rogers wearing a Cadmium Yellow Hue cardigan and Bob Ross wearing canvas shoes while riding in the Trolley and singing “You’ve Got A Friend In Me.” One can hope.

Some of you, after reading this post, are thinking, “What’s the point of this?” and “That’s five minutes of my life I’ll never get back.” And my answer is this: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) Don’t fight over paint, and cardigans, and see-through fros. And, without exception, don’t throw paintbrushes and canvas shoes because the world is watching.

You’re welcome.

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