I’ll be honest. I hate the Wizard of Oz.
Oz sounds like an absolutely terrible place, like somewhere you would end up if you used a less than reputable travel agent. There’s scary flying monkeys. There are angry-looking little people in too-bright, mismatched clothing. Houses fall from the sky and crush old ladies.
Really, it doesn’t sound like a very hospitable place. It’s no wonder Dorothy wanted to return to Kansas.
Since Oz doesn’t technically exist, good ole Kansas has taken good ole Dorothy’s story and ran with it. To this end, I see many Oz-related billboards on my daily commute on Kansas highways.
Today as I drove past the “Land of Oz” billboard for the gazillioneth time, I realized that stupid story about Dorothy and her little dog played a big part in my childhood.
One of the crowning achievements of my childhood years was my turn as Glinda the Good Witch in my elementary school’s spring concert. I was in third grade and I can honestly say no finer acting chops have ever been showcased on the high school auditorium stage. (I can honestly say this because my only job as Glinda was to stand around smiling in a fancy, blue, princess-like dress my mom had purchased at Goodwill. At nine I was very good at standing around smiling while not doing anything.)
My appearance as Glinda actually created quite a stir in Mrs. Johnson’s third grade classroom. This was a class of children, which to be honest, was already prone to ridiculous pre-adolescent drama.
The trouble all started with the casting of the characters, a task that was performed by our music teacher, Mrs. Miller. Mrs. Miller was a white haired lady who hated me and made us sing the Little Mermaid’s “Kiss the Girl” far before the boys were mature enough to handle it.
As I knew Mrs. Miller hated me, I was very confused about my selection for the coveted Glida role. Looking back, this decision was probably based far more on my hair color than my deposition.
There was only one teeny-tiny, Munchkin-sized problem: Glida had to sing. Glida had to sing, alone, into a microphone, in front of hundreds of people. This was a bit of a predicament considering my singing voice tends to lend itself to more of Wicked Witch role in that it’s bad, very, very bad.
So as any Glinda without a good voice would do, I consulted the mayor of Munchkinland. The mayor was conveniently played by my then best friend, who as it happened did not have the voice reminiscent of nails on a chalkboard. So, as the Oz powerhouses we were, she and I decided she would be the soloist.
It was a win-win situation. I would be saved from emotionally-scarring embarrassment and she would get to do the Munchkin kind proud.
What we didn’t account for, was the inevitable backlash. She was accused of solo-stealing and the matter would go on to spawn, not one, but two, class meetings.
Thankfully, I smashed those naysayers like a house on a Wicked Witch. After that the Munchkin Mayor was allowed to steal the show, while I got to stand around in my pretty dress not doing anything.
Those were the days.
Now that my Wizard of Oz encounters end with the billboards on the highway, I wish I could say I’ve come to love the tale of Dorothy and her “little dog too.”
But, to be honest, those stupid flying monkeys still give me the creeps.