Charlie the Caterpillar didn’t know he was ugly until a bunch of people told him he was. Some rabbits playing tennis, monkeys playing cards and mice playing miniature golf all told him he couldn’t play with them because he was an ugly caterpillar. If enough people tell you something, you start to believe it’s true. Charlie actually started to feel ugly and figured the rabbits, monkeys and mice were probably right after all.
So, Charlie went like this and he went like that and spun himself into a nice warm cocoon and slept most of two seasons away. Somehow he knew that it was time to wake up. It was springtime, flowers were blooming and birds were having a party up in the sky. When Charlie stretched and came out of his hiding place, he was amazed to find that he had changed into a beautiful butterfly with beautiful butterfly wings. Everyone who wouldn’t play with him when he was an ugly caterpillar now begged him to play with them.
Dom DeLuise wrote that story some 15 years ago. A local teacher friend gave me his book when my boys were still being read to. I’ll bet I’ve read that book a thousand times over the years, mostly to kindergarten, first and second graders, but I’ve read it to grown-ups too. I love the simple message of Charlie the Caterpillar. My wife dropped a note to Dom Deluise a few years back and he sent another copy with his autograph and an autographed picture. He didn’t have to do that.
Dom DeLuise died today. Most folks will remember him from funny TV shows and funny movies, and so will I. But, I’ll remember him mostly for his simple book about not judging people by how they look, about how you should be nice to everyone, even people who don’t look like you. I wish I had met him and thanked him face-to-face for making us laugh, but more importantly for making us think.
I’ll see you tonight at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
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