Thursday, April 19, 2012
New Years with Pee Wee
A slender man with thinning brown hair, a gray suit, red bow toe, red lips, and a distinct laugh sauntered into our house greeted by four excited little girls smiling, all teeth. “Ha ha!” Pee Wee started his routine with us, “Happy New Years, man,” in the more subdued nasal voice he reserved for more normal conversation.
I looked from my sister, three years older than me at 11, to my friend Beth to her sister Shannon and realized our faces were all mirrored images of excitement: eyebrows perched high on our foreheads, teeth exposed by our grins, mouths opened but silent as we had no idea how to start a conversation with someone we considered a comic genius.
We took turns posing for pictures with Pee Wee who by this time had acquired a Happy New Years headband; oversized black rimmed glasses with sections of green, red, and orange; and pastel streamers - obviously created for a celebration for little girls in pink, yellow, baby blue, and lime green - draped around his shoulders like a boa for a showgirl.
After his performance, I watched as he broke character, joining our dads at our bar. I saw red lipstick marks on the butt of his cigarette and remember thinking, “But Pee Wee doesn’t smoke?! And he certainly never drinks from a hip flask in the playhouse?!”