We're not in OZ, Toto!

By Charles Alexander

Parting Glances

If stars are auspicious - and on this glorious, Night of Nights one star shown brightest of all - there are paths that magically switch in time, space, and crazy activation.

And so it happened once upon a whimsical time when five companions on one path, three on another, switched positions, directions, and somehow altered destinations.

The first group - names familiar to young and old alike - Dorothy, Toto, Tinman, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion - were larking on the Yellow Brick Road to Oz, when the unexpected crisscrossing occurred.

Quite suddenly they were overwhelmed by a brilliant light that gently nudged them far beyond their make-believe journey. Giddy - very, very young - exuberantly naive at heart - they forgot all about Oz, which is not an easy thing to do. (Ask any adult.)

(The second regal sojourners Gaspar, Balthasar, Melchoir bearing gifts for someone of noble birth were baffled to find themselves getting heady in a poppy-infested countryside. A curious sign pointed them to MGM.)

"I hear music. Could it be choirs singing?" asked Tinman, eager to follow wherever the sounds led. "How marvelously wonderful," thought Dorothy, knowing full well that tin men have tin ears; that perhaps this was an auspicious sign.

Along the way Dorothy and her rerouted friends found themselves waved to by shepherds keeping their flocks by night. "It seems we're celebrities," giggled Scarecrow, as Toto and Cowardly Lion busied themselves - bravely to be sure - chasing off wolves howling too close for comfort.

As the overhead kleig light in the sky got brighter. Scarecrow, with newfound mental acumen, ventured pompously, "This star is of 31.50 magnitude. A biggie."

On cue, Dorothy, who possessed palatial talents (she hoped someday to perform in movies) began singing. Out of the blue she sang words she had never heard before, but somehow knew by heart, with Tinman, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow crooning in.

The desolate miles quickly reeled by, and before they could finish the last chorus of "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis" they found themselves among a small crowd gathered in front of a tiny, makeshift manger.

There were shepherds, seven dwarfs, a newly awakened Sleeping Beauty with her braveheart prince, and, in the center of it all, a mom, a carpenter dad, a small baby wrapped in hand-me-down clothes.

And most probably because there was an awe-inspired, opening-night crowd applauding, the little guy began to cry. Not too loudly. But authoritatively audible to be sure. And in a moment of exquisite improv Scarecrow pulled straw from his thump-thump-thumping heart and gently gave it to cradle the baby's head.

Dorothy, with perfect on-stage presence, sang another heavenly lullaby just newly inspired. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" she sang. The crying baby hushed, and gave the tinniest of technicolored smiles. (His own over-the-rainbow-time would come another day.)

Alas! In the 1939 twinkling of an eye, Dorothy, Tinman, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Toto, were whisked suddenly back to their own make believe reality. "Well, whatever would Auntie Em say?" pondered Dorothy.

"And why in heaven's name would a shepherd be wearing Ruby Red slippers and clicking his heels? Is he 'funny' that way?" camped the Cowardly Lion, with a wink and a swish and a swagger of his tale.


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