|Roger the Monster and my Nightmare Friend
Comedian Paul Reuben's puppet-ridden "Pee Wee's Playhouse" was a confusing and
frightening work of art to begin with, but one episode in particular was enough to send a
three-year-old me running from the television in horror...
"Monster in the Playhouse" was the ninth episode of Pee Wee and aired on November 8, 1986.
In it, the playhouse receives an unprecedented visit from a giant, gibbering tentacle-beast with an
interesting mouth that scared the living daylights out of me, Pee Wee and all of his talking
...But when Peewee asks Jambi the Genie to magically translate the creature's eerie chatter, we learn
that his name is Roger and he is but an innocent child of his race. He wants only to find his way home to
"Monster Land", and we all learn a valuable lesson about accepting our physical differences. It's a
beautiful story, but was far too much back then for my tiny mind to handle.
I was always a very nightmare-prone child; nearly anything unusual in the course of my day could result
in a solid night of freakishly disturbing dreams, and "Monster in the Playhouse" was no exception. The
night of my encounter with this episode, I experienced one of the strangest, most vivid dreams that I can
recall, and one that would firmly cement my life-long love of monsters...
The dream itself was essentially a repeat of the day's events. I got out of bed, turned on the television to
watch Peewee, went mad at the sight of raw terror, and ran away.
In the dream version, however, my favorite television program consisted entirely of an empty white room
with a window, a chair, and the psychological demon you see above. Shaped, you may notice, almost
exactly like Roger, but with a slick, flat surface in lieu of a colossal eyeball and the wrinkled epidermis of
a pachyderm encrusted with barnacle-like suckers. Already an incredibly unsettling creature for a
three-year-old to imagine, but its bizarre appearance paled in comparison to its bizarre behavior, for my
dream-monster did absolutely nothing but bounce up and down, repeatedly smack itself with its flippers,
and shriek - in a metallic, squeaky voice - "HIT ME! HIT ME! HIT ME! HIT ME!"
Though this masochistic foot-monster was only a television show in a dream, its intense voice was more
than enough to shock me awake and traumatize well into the following morning, when I decided that the
only way to conquer my fear was to embrace it.
For the next three years, both Roger and the monster from my dream were my full-time imaginary
friends, the latter of whom I named "Hit-me-hit-me-hit-me" after his entire known vocabulary. I would
tell many a vivid tale of our adventures to any adult who took the time to listen...and more than likely
confused the shit out of them.