You know how a song gets stuck in your head and you hum it all day long?
Yesterday, as I was raking and burning the mango leaves, Mr. Roger’s song, “It’s a Beautiful Day in This Neighborhood” cycled repeatedly through my brain. If you have forgotten the words:
“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?…
It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?…
I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we’re together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Won’t you please,
Won’t you please?
Please won’t you be my neighbor?”
― Fred Rogers
Mister Rogers had two distinct neighborhoods on his show: The Neighborhood of Make-Believe and The Real Neighborhood. The Neighborhood of Make-Believe was comprised of puppets, where each character played a role much more complex than one would think.
Yesterday, I felt like I was living in The Neighborhood of Make-Believe. With each bar I hummed, more and more neighborhood kids arrived to play in our gringo world of make-believe. Steven, the two-year-old, crawled under the fence and toddled over to our house wearing his cloth diapers. He reminded me of the character, Daniel Striped Tiger, in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Like Daniel Striped Tiger, Steven is shy, yet affectionate and loving when he gets to know you. Ron plopped him in the wheelbarrow and Steven helped him dig a trench and drop bricks and stones into the trench for a needed retaining wall. Steven’s favorite greeting is “guapa” ( the female adjective for handsome). In fact, everything is “guapa”. “Steven, do you want some lunch?” I asked. “Guapa”, he responded. “Steven, do you want to color?” “Guapa,” he said. “Steven, your diaper is dirty. You can’t sit on my couch.” “Guapa”, he replied as he plopped down on my couch with a giggle.
Christian (10 years old) and Reyna (12 years old) arrived to play with Cory and Sam, but Cory and Sam weren’t here, so they hung out with the old gringos. Christian reminds me of Cornflake S. Pecially because, like Cornflake, she is good-natured, inventive, and industrious. I showed her how to cut the grass with my sickle. It took a few swings to perfect her stroke, and in no time the grass was flying. She’d make a wicked golfer.
Reyna reminds me of Hula Mouse. Hula Mouse was a Spanish speaking character that could do many wondrous things with his hula hoop. Cory and Sam had their slack-line suspended between two trees (It is similar to a flat tight rope), and Reyna demonstrated her keen sense of balance in walking the slack-line.
Johnson showed up with a sack of bananas for us. Yesterday was his birthday. Johnson comes to our house every Sunday and Ron teaches him English, as well as trains him for marathons. Johnson is like Prince Friday. He is curious, interested in his schoolwork, dedicated, and very respectful.
Julio arrived with his machete. I have been asking him to machete our yard for us for days. Remember, we have no lawn mowers on the island ( and only a few in the entire country). Julio is Bob Dog, the lovable, good-hearted, and rather timid dog, who loves to howl. Like Bob Dog, Julio is shy around girls and sometimes gets confused when things get complicated (especially when we are all speaking English). Julio is practically part of our family. We’ve known him since he was 9 years old. His birthday is next Tuesday and he will be 19 years old. He also is graduating from high school. There will be a dual celebration, his family has a big fiesta planned for Saturday. I’m making a chocolate cake…Julio’s favorite.
There were probably a dozen other people that showed up at our house yesterday. Marvin, my iron man, measured my kitchen walls for two more projects. Santiago stopped by to pick up a memory card I purchased for him in the states. He’s going to help Ron with his retaining wall in lieu of paying us money for the memory card. Roberto arrived in his truck to pick up some gravel and barbed wire for Izzy. Izzy, from Australia, is staying with Roberto and she is building a little earth bag house for herself on Roberto’s property. Too many visitors to remember…but that’s the way it usually is in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. I love the spontaneity.
If I had to compare myself to a character in The Neighborhood of Make-Believe, I would say I am most like Harriette Elizabeth Cow. She was the school teacher at the school house at Some Place Else. She is a kindly teacher who has a warm relationship with her students and likes to help them in interesting ways. Yep…that’s me.
Comparing Ron to a character is a little more difficult. He is a blend of several characters. He could be part Edgar Cooke, the chef at the castle. Edgar Cooke generally sang his messages in a minor key. Ron…poor Ron, loves to sing, but he is tone deaf. His messages shriek in a low pitched song, making all the neighbors giggle behind his back. He is definitely not like King Friday XIII. King Friday XIII ruled in a regal and pompous manner. So unlike Ron, mi esposo. Instead, I think he has many virtues and qualities like Mister Rogers. He is a gentle, compassionate, creative, and virtuous man. Yep, that’s Ron.
My trip to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe must come to an end, now. It’s time for me to return to the Real Neighborhood, where I’ll take on new roles. Today, I’m Miss Paulificate, who had a cleaning service and was always seen with a duster. My duster is my little whisk broom. Ron will return to the Real Neighborhood playing the role of Handyman Negri, who was the royal handyman and always available to help with repairs around the kingdom.
Mister Rogers always ended each episode with the song, “Tomorrow, Tomorrow”. Now, I’ll have that song stuck in my head all day. Here’s to starting each day with a song or two, and a smile!