Friday, November 6, 2015

The Secret Word

Back in the late 80s, I played Pee-Wee Herman in a church play (roadshow). The brief and grainy footage below is of my little brother Jared playing the narrator.

Most of the entire video is still very happy for me. I wore a grey suit that was too small, a red bowtie, white Cuban heels, and I did a terrible imitation of Pee-Wee’s voice. In spite of my inability to act, the show was a hit; I believe we won best in show, and I was called up on stage to be interviewed (and to dance) as Pee-Wee. That very same weekend, parents began calling and me offering money if I would perform as Pee-Wee at their children’s birthday parties.

The end of the video is now almost unbearable for me to watch. Jared spoke the last lines in the show, which was about the difficulties of being a teenager and making it through each day. Tears now fill my eyes and shame warms my cheeks as I hear Jared say,

“Mary Jones, typical American teenager, has solved one of the greatest mysteries in life! She has learned to be herself. In Pee-Wee’s playhouse, she has found her ANSWER!”

(ANSWER was the secret word of the play, and anyone who watched Pee-Wee's Playhouse knows that we all scream real loud when we hear the secret word!)

I hate it, knowing now that my little brother was suffering inside and unable to be himself, even as he shouted those thrilling, happy, life saving words with such conviction.

That sad moment wasn’t even the beginning of Jared’s story, and it certainly wasn’t the end.

So please don’t speak to me of time and patience and eternity. Don’t tell me to wait it out, to have faith, and to trust. Don’t post quotes from people you have never met, hollow platitudes and memes meant for a crowd of head nodders that sweep the emotions, questions, and conflict of real experience into the corner, kindly blame whatever tragedy or befuddlement has befallen them on God, and in doing so lose the lesson before the dust has had time to settle.

Why wait? Why don’t we all solve one of the greatest mysteries in life together, and learn to be ourselves now?

After all, didn’t he send us here to find our ANSWERs?

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had both your memory and your way with words. I appreciate that you continue to share Jared's story. It puts a human face on an issue that many would not understand through policies and rhetoric alone. By the way, I am amazed that at 45 years of age, I am STILL learning how to "be myself"!