Pee-Wee Herman

This is part of a series about Things I Love where I just share about things that make me happy.

January 9, 2015 I came home from having some uterine polyps removed and settled in to recover on the couch. My daughter climbed up to snuggle and we opened Netflix to find something to watch. I saw that Pee-Wee’s Playhouse was there and I remembered loving it when I was younger. It began to air when I was three, and since my daughter was three I figured it would be a perfect time to introduce it to her. We pressed play and that’s how our next few days were spent.

I remember being 4 years old, standing on the brown carpet, in front of our large wood framed television in the living room of our house in the city and waiting anxiously for my mom to find the right channel at the right time so I could watch Pee-Wee.

I remember sitting too close to the screen and being amazed at how bright the colours were and how fun the characters were. I remember Pee-Wee’s voice constantly changing tone and inflection. I remember when he married his fruit salad. I remember the claymation animals and playhouse in the opening song as Cyndi Lauper sings that “Pee-Wee’s so excited because his friends are all invited” and feeling like I was his friend.

As I watched with my daughter I realized that these flashes of specific memories were just the tip of the iceberg. As Pee-Wee moved through his routine of welcoming guests into his home, reading his mail, building his tin foil ball, and playing with his friends from puppet land I discovered a deeper layer of memory. Pee-Wee Herman helped develop the scaffolding of my mind. Little things I say or do come from the playhouse and I had long lost the memory of that. For example, every time I connect two points on a drawing,or something, my mind always sings “connect the dots, la-la-la-la.” I thought that was my internal voice. It turns out it’s his voice that my brain co-opted.

We let the playhouse rest for a while as my daughter moved on to more contemporary, action based shows (hello Teen Titans Go!) but last week she came back to Pee-Wee. We finished up season 5 and started back at the beginning and it’s been long enough for her that it’s all new again. Sort of. I see her going through the same phase of rediscovery that I did, recognizing things she thought she had forgotten, marvelling in the excitement of it all.

Of all the celebrities out there, Paul Reubens is the one I would most love to meet. I want to thank him for being such a good friend.

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