There are people in this world who just need to be watched.
I mean this in a good way. Not in a, “I see you there,” kinda way. That kind of watching is reserved for my children, and it takes a lot of energy.
The good kind of watching is easier. It brings joy. It engenders laughter.
Also, total bonus points if street food is involved.
And so, I give you this guy:
Phil Rosenthal is a Really Famous Writer. He was the creator and producer of Everybody Loves Raymond, a sitcom that I STILL watch on a weekly basis because it provides marital counseling for me and my Ray + Husband. My Rusband, if you will. We watch together and I smirk and elbow Rusband, repeatedly, because I am Debra.
Seriously. My life is simply a series of events in which I think, “What would Debra do?”
Ok, so, Phil writes stuff.
Phil eats stuff. And, we watch him while he does this. And my God, people, it fixes everything.
Here’s what I mean. Phil travels around the world. He eats things that are often bizarre and also wonderful and sometimes terrifying. While he does this, he asks a ton of questions. He doesn’t say “No, thank you, I’m full,” or “I’ll pass; I can’t tell what it is,” or “I can’t; it’s looking at me.” He has conversations over raw fish and pork bellies and some meal a guy made for him on what looks like a TV tray at the side of a bedraggled city road.
He doesn’t just eat. He inhales.
It’s an extremely simple formula. Ask. Eat. Talk. Eat some more. Talk. Repeat.
I want my family to watch this show. I think my church needs to, as well. Also, the President, and Congress, and all those shouting folks on Wall Street. And anybody in the medical profession.
And also people who make things, or run things, or run people who make things.
And anybody who works in customer support or sales. They deserve it.
And children. Not because they need it, but because they would just totally get Phil.
In my Momsie kind of world, if one part of the world was mad at another part of the world, a press conference would be held, and it would go like this:
Official-looking serious person: Ladies, gentlemen, just hold you questions please…
Reporters: We have questions! How are we gonna fix this? What do we doooooo?
Official-looking serious person: It’s simple, really. Let me introduce you to Phil Rosenthal. And yes, he really is going to save us all.
Ok, the best way I can explain the magic that is Phil is to tell you about Raymond. Stay with me here. This isn’t a needless tangent; it’s a trip to Italy.
In an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray and his family are on a family vacation to the land of their ancestors. It’s a glorious trip, full of rich sights and sounds, and everybody is so excited and entranced, because Italy has special powers like that.
Everybody except Raymond.
Ray is not having any of it. He hates traveling, and then there’s his family, and, well, it’s kinda hot. And he’s tired. He doesn’t really fit in. He’s wearing shorts and white sneakers, for Pete’s sake.
And then, Phil wrote this scene where Ray, tired and grumpy, finds food.
Pizza. He finds pizza. Of course.
And it’s really really good pizza. Duh. Italy.
And you can see it on Ray’s face. He gets it. With one bite, he feels the sun, and leans against a wall, and in comes Italy. And he feels at home.
Can a slice of pizza save the world? Maybe. It did for Raymond.
So, in Somebody Feed Phil, our beloved hero travels the world and yet he brings us home. He teaches us joy and good manners, and inquisitiveness, and bravery. He instructs us that goofiness is good, and that humor is the great leveler.
He is kind. He is funny. And he manages to do all of this while still barely hanging onto the barest rudiment of foreign languages and societal protocols.
And, if Phil can do it, so can we.
It’s diplomacy, with appetizers.