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Believe a Mom, Mister Rogers Is the Sexiest Man in the Neighborhood

I'm a 40-something mom in search of a good time. Mister Rogers has what I want. No joke.

Mister Rogers is a snack. That cardigan? Those khakis? They look great on him. They’d look even better on my floor in the morning. And no, I’m not joking. Our culture may not sexualize Mister Rogers, but I’m going to. Of course, I am. Mister Rogers has what I want as a 40-something (not your fucking business) mother. He cares about others (hot), he spends a lot of time developing ways to nurture (sexy), and he knows how to really, truly, actively listen (*screaming climax*).

I have dated, and/or bedded, my share of assholes — most of us straight women have. They seem sexy at first, but it’s the superficial kind of sexy, not the gives-me-multiple-orgasms kind. What many of us want is a more sensitive man, someone capable of something real and lasting — and pleasurable. Because the sensy man’s (very) dirty secret is that he’s better in bed — by, like, a lot. They say that nice guys finish last and that’s not the truth. They do, however, finish after me.

Which brings us to the man in the cardigan. I look back at images of him from the 1970s and 1980s and I see no-joke sex appeal. I see someone who is present and attentive and kind to children. Perhaps those are not the qualities you associate with a ladies’ man, but they should be. For many (most?) of us, that combination of selflessness and self-knowledge is what gets our juices flowing. He can keep his house shoes on if he wants.

This is all to say that most guys could probably benefit sexually from reconsidering — let’s just call it: becoming more like — Mister Rogers. He might not look like Jason Momoa to you, but to millions of us, he looks like dessert. There are a few reasons why. Mister Rogers….

Put Others First: What kind of dude devotes his life to helping children find themselves, giving up what would have surely been a successful run as a big-time pianist? A hottie who knows that giving often feels better than receiving. For me, watching Mister Rogers is like bingeing alt porn (altruism porn, that is).

Knew How to Listen: Mister Rogers knew conversation was about listening and talking — in that order. Oh, what’s that? You want to know if I saw that and what I think of it? And if I could say more about it while you reflect on what I’m saying? I’m going to tell you all about my thoughts and feelings, but I’ve got something else in mind first.

Fatherly IQ
  1. When was the last time you yelled at your kids?
    Today
    A couple days ago
    Within the last week
    I can’t remember. I don’t yell very often
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Didn’t Interrupt: Have you watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood? Half the time Mister Rogers is standing there silently, with a slight smile, just observing. He’s not even awkward about it. He’s patiently waiting for kids sitting on couches whom he can’t even see to respond to his questions. You know what else requires a lot of patience and listening? Anal.

Liked His Mom: Thinking about dudes’ moms doesn’t generally get me off, but, as every hot-blooded woman knows, a man’s relationship with his mom can be very revealing. Mister Rogers wore those ugly sweaters every day, exposing himself to teasing from the entire U.S. population. He didn’t fucking care. His mom put a lot of fucking love into those sweaters, and Mister Rogers cared more about that love than, you know, dressing like an adult. You know what a man with that capacity for gratitude is going to get wrapped up in? My legs.

Was Strong: I’m talking emotional strength here, which is the only kind I care about. He was impossible to wrongfoot. The vicissitudes of the Neighborhood — of life, really — never got to the guy. When his goldfish died, he didn’t avoid having feelings about it. He processed it. He stared down the ugliness of death while helping others make sense of it. I’m in for the coital if the post-coital chat contains deep truths.

Was Confident: He wasn’t a big or boastful guy: those are, of course, the opposite of confident. Mister Rogers was instead a rare thing: secure. He thought jokes about him were funny, but also didn’t back down in front of an audience of millions or Congress or advertisers or anyone who threatened his vision for a better world. He was gentle, sure, but not soft. And that makes me a little bit lady-hard.

There were rumors for decades that Mister Rogers was bisexual or gay or an army sniper. People generally make up stories about humans they don’t totally understand. What many men fail to understand about Mister Rogers is the magnitude of his incorruptibility. He was on the air for 31 years and he was never craven or selfish. He took care of his fish and his Make-Believe friends and the millions of kids he helped raise. He was focused and effective. He was kind.

And I’m here for all that. Lots of us are. So get a sweater and zip it all the way up. You know how I like it.

Admire Fred Rogers? We do too. That’s why Fatherly has released Finding Fred, a narrative podcast about the ideas that animated Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and what they mean in 2019. Listen to the show on iTunes or online to hear journalist Carvell Wallace grapple with the legacy of a kind, but complicated man.