The two men: Fred Rogers and Bob Barker.
I say this because I was a discerning lad of five years old, and I remember all too clearly what it was like to know that, while I was going off to kindergarten, there were children my age elsewhere in the world who were going off to work in dank sweatshops in the Asian jungles, lucky enough not to have to give their hair a second thought the morning.
Those of us left going to fashion-conscious public elementary schools in the suburbs of Milwaukee were not nearly so fortunate. I had to think about my hair. There weren't other options for kids like me. It got so bad that even my mom was involved, bless her wicked, wicked heart.
Enter Rogers and Barker, the two cowboys of the broadcast airwaves, riding into the homes of America like cowboys riding on broadcast airwaves, I'm talking with spurs and whips and saddles and such. And dynamite hair.
Wow. Seriously, check this guy out. This is the reason there wasn't a dry pair of pants in America between 11am and 12pm weekdays throughout the '70s and '80s.
And this guy, too. Makes you want to whistle out loud like a construction worker watching too much ass parade by in too little covering, doesn't it?Mornings in my house, there were two decisions that required making: Tropicana or Minute Maid, and did I want my hair parted like Mr. Rogers or Bob Barker. I always assumed this was a simple question of left-right logistics, but as you can see in the above photos, both men parted their hair on the left. In case you're wondering, yes, I do feel a little duped, especially considering that having to choose between these two impeccable 'dos is a no-win situation. Can you imagine doing that to a five-year-old?
Anyway, Bobbity B. just retired in June, and Mr. Rogers rode the Neighborhood Trolley up to the Land of Make Believe in the sky in 2003. And this morning, I was riding the train to work thinking not about my hair (which began curling in the mid-'80s in open rebellion against the Barker-Rogers great hair cartel), but about the new pair of shoes on my fancy feet all the way down there at the end of my stems. These thoughts intersected (as thoughts often do, I'm told), and I remembered how Mr. Rogers used to come in at the beginning of his show flashing that glossy hair helmet of his, and singing his song about what a beautiful day it was in the neighborhood before changing into his sweater and tennis shoes while inquiring as to whether or not I'd like to be his neighbor. And I have just one question.
Where the fuck was he coming from wearing the suit and shoes?
I'm okay with the fact that he wore a sweater and tennis shoes to work, because that show was his job, after all. I work in fruit - I see stranger outfits than sweaters and tennis shoes every day. Like the time Eustice O'Dowd wore pants made entirely out of milk cartons. I'm not kidding.
But what I don't get is why he wears a suit just to come to work, then changes back into the suit to leave work and go home?
It's throwing my entire opinion of his hair into turmoil now, as if my topsy-turvy world needed any additional topsiness or turviness, which it most certainly did not need. I'm having retroactive regret about all the times I told my mom to part my hair like Mr. Rogers instead of Bob Barker, even though it ended up being the same thing. One day with these shoes, and my entire childhood belief system is coming unraveled. Fuck.