Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is a story filled with ‘Pee Wee Herman’ moments, actually the entire movie is a Pee Wee moment for that fact. No matter what befalls him, no matter where he winds up, or who he is with there is always a time in which his frantic little life is slowed down, a nanosecond, and he engages in a compassionate act, of sorts. In the movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, his Road Master bicycle is stolen. On the advice of a whacked out, money hungry fortune teller he heads off to Texas in search of his bike. The Alamo, more specifically. In the basement of the Alamo is where the fortune teller tells him he’ll find his bike.
Pee Wee is a feverish little wisp of a man-boy. His house is filled with contraptions and toys. He is determined to find his bike. The music reflects his frenetic activity; you sort of get caught up in it. But he stops to pet animals, rescue snakes, comfort a lovelorn waitress and then without missing a beat, continues the search for his bike.
I had a Pee Wee moment last Wednesday. I was practically galloping up Agrippas Street to get to a lunch date for which I was already late. I was heading into the Makane Yehuda area, one of the, if not the most chaotic markets in Jerusalem. But I was stopped at the crosswalk by the little red man walker light. Which, in Israel, is a very long stop. If there is one thing that Israeli’s do, it is to stop at the pedestrian lights. No matter where you get the red walkers light they stop. A busy intersection, they stop. An empty intersection, they stop and wait. Even on Shabbat where there are three cars in all of Jerusalem on the road, they pleasantly wait. Their patience is overwhelming and practically unbelievable considering the pushy behavior that they sometimes display.
I was waiting with everyone else when I turned around and saw an elderly woman standing behind me. She was a little humped over, slightly overweight and when the green man walker light appeared she asked me something and put out her hand.
For the briefest moment I thought, O GEEZ, I need to bolt across Agrippas in Pee Wee style and get to the restaurant. But, I took her hand instead. Slowly and gently we began to walk across to the first island in the street. She talked to me in Hebrew even though I told her that I spoke mostly, almost exclusively English. We walked to the second medium island, it’s an odd intersection, and then continued to the other side. We were at the market. She released my hand but I grabbed it again because the sidewalk was crowded and we needed to walk in the street for a short distance. When we parted she said over and over, “Todah Rabah, Todah Rabah,” which means thank you. I sped up once again, in Pee Wee style, to get to the restaurant. It wasn’t until late in the evening that I thought about the woman in the middle of my big rush.
I lost my mother many years ago; sometimes it’s hard to envision what our lives and relationship would be like today. Mom probably would be about the same age as this woman. Maybe she would have even held out her hand for me to hold. At least I hope so. I’m going to interpret my “Pee Wee” moment with this stranger as a visit from mom. It was a split second of grace in a world of uncertainty and rushed living. This woman’s eagerness to depend on a me, a stranger, caught me and touched me in a most Godly way.
I’m not sure who was guiding whom; we both needed one another at the moment.