Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vintage Amber: The 1991 news story that confused everyone at my day camp

That morning, some kid who I didn’t really know—but who probably had a rat tail since everyone had a rat tail that summer—ran into the wood paneled activity room of our day camp and rather loudly announced the news.

My heart sank.

Pee-wee was a really important part of my life, quite possibly the most important part of my life (I had all the toys, my very own Pee-wee’s playhouse, and of course watched the show EVERY Saturday).
How could this loud-mouth kid be so cavalier about such positively tragic news?

Unfortunately, the kid didn’t know why Pee-wee had been arrested—either his parents had shielded him from this crucial bit of info or he didn’t understand what indecent exposure was—so for the rest of the day, the group of 7 and 8 year-olds that I was kickin’ it with that summer speculated about how Pee-wee had managed to land himself in the pokey. 
At one point, a boy came up to us and said, “I heard Pee-wee robbed a bank.” 
This seemed logical. So logical, in fact, that I repeated it with complete certainty when my mom came to pick me up that afternoon.

A day or two later, I found out why he’d really been arrested. Because I didn’t know that there were porno movie houses or that there was even a thing called porn, I thought that he’d “exposed himself” at a run-of the-mill theater while watching something like Beauty and the Beast or City Slickers.  

Anyway, I didn’t find what he’d done too appalling, as I had recently become obsessed with flipping the bird to no one in particular whenever I was in dark public spaces (movie theaters, Space Mountain at Disneyland, et al.) 
I guess I sort of connected our two transgressions in my mind—perhaps thinking that he’d done that thing he did to achieve the sort of exhilaration that comes with being a super sneaky scofflaw.  

Ultimately, the most disturbing part of the whole incident was finding out that Pee-wee Herman wasn’t Pee-wee Herman at all. He was some dude named Paul Reubens.  
I don't think that I've ever been as thoroughly disillusioned.

Where were you when you found out about Pee-wee?  


girluntitled said...

i must have been in denial for a really long time, because i just found out like 5 years ago why he really went to jail. i always thought he just flashed a buncha people, too.

a part of me still believes that.

owlinalarkworld said...

Regrettably I am not acquainted with Pee-Wee, but I am sorry for your pain.

Erin likes it hot. said...

Yeah, you're totally right. The worst part was seeing him with his hair all long and his face all sad.
Plus he robbed a bank.

Misty said...

Remembering back to 1991, I was probably just under 13. Of course, I was a fan of Pee-Wee. I don't really remember my reaction, but I DO remember when Pee-Wee came out of hiding on the MTV Music Awards and said "Heard Any Good Jokes Lately?"

I literally "stumbled upon" your blog a few months ago in some very random internet search. Very funny. Man, you remind me of me before I entered my 30s. (Hope that doesn't scare you.) I still do a little pop-culture blogging, though. Anyway, love your eccentric commentary and way of expression!

Munk said...

I was sitting in my chairy drinking a beer.

Lorraine said...

Getting my rat tailed trimmed?

I hope that's the right answer.


Megs said...

Did I already comment or did I spaz and delete it?

Because I'm pretty sure my mom told me about Pee Wee as a justification for never having to rent Pee Wee movies ever again.

Also, I really thought that he got arrested while wearing the gray suit and the bow tie.

Fear Street said...

I found out about Pee Wee (who knew two little syllables could make someone's skin crawl as if being eaten by fire ants?) late in childhood. My mom had no problem whatsoever just laying it on the line...and she didn't even really get it right.

Mom: "Pee Wee Herman is a dirty pervert who walked into a theater wearing only a trench coat and showed everybody there his no-goods."

Me: "Oh."

Maria said...

Wow, I had to wikipedia all of this info after reading this. Those drawings really put everything into perspective haha. But seriously, I always knew there had been some scandal regarding Pee Wee, but I always linked it with those "Barney-is-a-child-molester"..."Blues-Clues-guy-deals-drugs" -type rumors. Had no idea about all of this bsns.

Maybe cos when he was exposing himself, I was just being introduced to the world; I was born in 1991.

Thanks for the wonderful 90s info, as usual!

Stitchdaddy said...

I was somewhere pretending to be a Ninja Turtle. i wasn't much of a playhouse fan since like a year prior to this my mom dressed me like Pee Wee and made me go too a wedding. thats a pain that can only be healed by eating pizza and learning ninjutsu from a rat.

Amber said...

girluntitled: i think that we as a generation should just continue to come up with theories about why he was arrested. in 30 or 40 years from now no one will really know what happened and the whole thing will just become this huge legend.

Erin: I know, right?

Misty: Thanks for looking at my blog. And no one has ever told me that i remind them of themselves. I think that's cool. It makes me feel like less of a weirdo.

Munk: I hope you shared your beer with chairy.

Lorraine: Yes, that's the correct answer.

Megs: I totally thought the same thing. I think if he'd been wearing his suit and bow tie at the time his mugshot was taken, I would have been slightly less disillusioned.

Fear Street: I like that your mom spiced everything up a bit. Although you can't see it in the mugshot, I'm almost certain he was wearing a trench coat.

Maria: I'm glad that I'm able to help educate the younger generation. I hope you're keeping tabs of all the scandals that are currently happening in the world so that you may be able to share those stories with the youngsters who come after you.

Stichdaddy: You're mom sounds awesome. Seriously.