Monday, January 30, 2006
The Neighborhood of Make-Believe
Last Saturday, I visited the Neighborhood of Make-Believe for the first time since I was fired from being the props-master on the set of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. First off, I said hello to my old friend Mr. McFeely and we had a good laugh remembering the silly stage pranks we'd pull to see if we could make Mr. Rogers throw a fit. (He never did, though later he said he credited me with the inspiration for the song, "What do you do with the mad that you feel?")
Mr. McFeely gave me his autograph. Then, while the other children were waiting in line to meet him, we had a spirited discussion about the state of the U.S. Postal system today. Soon after, my Landlady grabbed me by the arm and said, "Mr. McFeely is not responsible for domestic postage going up by 2 cents."
I spent some time with the Make-Believe royalty at the castle of King Friday the XIII. Lady Elaine Fairchild and I had always gotten along swimmingly, but King Friday and I often clashed. We smiled through gritted teeth, shook hands, and posed for the picture. Queen Sara was pleasant to me and offered me some snacks.
As I began to help myself to the array of treats, I distinctly heard King Friday mutter, "I hope he doesn't take all of the chocolate-chip muffins." My Landlady claimed that I had hallucinated the whole thing, but when I turned back, I saw King Friday shaking his fist at me. Hah! King Friday has no dominion over me.
I spent some time with Daniel Striped-Tiger at the clock. Daniel and I go way back. I knew him before he was tame. He often bit King Friday. Mr. Rogers did not approve, even though I pointed out that King Friday deserved it. It was around this time that Mr. Rogers told me that he didn't think I was happy as the props-master.
"Well, no," I said, "I want to be an actor on your show."
Mr. Rogers told me that there weren't any openings for gorillas on the show, but that he would keep me informed.* He then told me that he needed a new props-master, someone who would be calm around the children and not throw the shoes and sweaters at them in the audience. Mr. Rogers gave me a pretty decent severance package for that time, and sent me on my way. Soon after, I had a stint on Wonder Woman, but that spot wasn't the breakthrough role for which I had hoped. Anyway...
I took a spin on Lady Elaine's museum-go-round. I used to make myself sick on that thing. That day was no different.
I tried to soothe my poor, aching head with a glass of ginger-ale in Henrietta Pussycat's house, but when I had to lean out the window (I was sick, sick, sick), I got stuck. The Landlord had to rescue me. It was humiliating.
The trolley-ride back from the Land of Make-Believe was blissfully uneventful. The swaying of the trolley on the tracks made me woozy, but it was a short trip. I survived.
Even though the Neighborhood of Make-Believe was too small and tame for a gorilla,* I made a lot of friends with whom I kept in touch (not King Friday). When Mr. Rogers died, I cried like a baby.
*Years later, Mr. Rogers invited Koko to visit the set. Koko always gets the star treatment! It is Her Way.