If ever a wonderful wiz there was.

I don't remember hold old he was.

Four or five, maybe?

I had snuck back stage during a production of The Wizard of Oz to surprise my friends and load up on some hugs from a cast I should have been a part of.

It was the middle of a terrible summer where I had run away to join a repertory company, thinking this wold be the beginning of a great career, but instead was mislead, mistreated, and worst of all, miscast.

Actually, the worst part is that my host family did not believe in using air conditioning.

And it was a hot summer.

Maybe I'm a terrible person, but I would let my children starve before I suffered a living room above 75 degrees. It's just inhuman.

Thank God (big G) for libraries cause I was too poor for coffee shops.

It was the rare Sunday where the rep company had a matinee but no evening performance, so I pulled a total jerk move and skipped the curtain call so I could shuck out of my sweaty Nazi uniform and head home before anyone noticed I was gone.

(The show was The Sound of Music, and my last costume was Nazi browns. Just so you know I wasn't attending some kind of rally)

The drive took a little over an hour and I got hungry and grabbed a sandwich at the deli near campus. The girls at the counter would always load up the meats for me so that I could turn one meal into three, but most of it was devoured by the time I got to the theater.

Waiting in the wings, being very patient, was a little boy I had never seen before.

Munchkin? I guessed.

I didn't have much time for small talk, for I wanted to make a grand entrance and feel loved again, so I placed my half eaten sandwich down on the bench, pointed at it, and in a stern voice I said "Stay" Then I backed out of the room slowly, never taking my eyes off the sandwich.

"Mommy?" I heard him say.


"That man just told his sandwich to stay."

"Did he?"

"Uh huh. . . . Mommy?"


"Is the sandwich going to move?"

"I doubt it."

Thus, not only did I end up meeting Caitlin for the first time, I also solidified myself as being the kind of person that frightens young children into thinking they're going to be attacked by food.

There's a very sad story that could possibly follow, several really,  but I don't want to go there, except to tell about this one time.

So, this one time, we were over at Caitlin's house, which was the coolest place to be cause Caitlin was a wife and a mother and practically our age. There wasn't anyone coming home who would catch us being bad or frown upon our elicit activities. It got very late, and we were all very stoned and going through her DVD and CD collection when someone got the great idea of watching the Wizard of Oz with the sound off while playing Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon"

There was this wonderful urban legend about Dark Side being scored to the movie, which accounts for all the irregular time signatures, but was untestable while the album was still trapped on vinyl.

It's a total myth, but there are some uncanny moments where the songs align with the visual narrative.

It's referred to as "The Dark Side of the Rainbow" and has quite a following.

God bless the internet.

Yet, after being wowed for thirty minutes, everyone else fell asleep in their corners and couches, while Caitlin and I tried experimenting with different albums.

Turns out you can do the same thing with The Cure and the cast recording of Rent.

Which is where we too called it a night.

It was 1998 and what was amazing about that moment was that it was my first glimpse of what adulthood looked like for my generation. We were the first children of the internet, we'd seen the rise and fall of grunge, MTV, floppy discs, Crystal Pepsi, and VHS tapes.

I was filled with so much hope that night, for it was possible I too could grow up to be cool and sophisticated, fun and responsible, that I can be the kind of adult that drinks good beer and smokes cheap pot, owns and enjoys The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd and The Cure and cast recordings of musicals.

It was like that moment when Kansas becomes OZ and the world goes from black and white to full technicolor.

If every little blue bird flies beyond the rainbow, why oh why can't I?

Adulthood was going to be amazing and I couldn't wait.

I still can't.

I'm somewhere between the Lollipop Guild and a quest for a witch's broom.

So, the movie comes on last night, I hadn't really been paying attention, and Calvin asked me a question.

"Wait . . . Dad?"


"Didn't you know that I can tell this is an old movie cause it's all brown?"

"It's called Black and White."

"Then why is it all brown?"

Which is when I looked up for the first time and realized that the opening farm scenes in The Wizard of Oz weren't the stark black and white of my memories. Instead I saw the dusty warm browns of sepia tone.


I could close my eyes and see very clearly Dorothy Gale in black and white.

Yet, there it is.


And thanks to the internet, I could just roll over to IMDB and watch the original trailer, and confirm or deny some very vivid visual memories.

Yet, again, brown.

Not black and white.


This changes everything.

Well, no, it changes nothing.

But it does bring up a few memories that I haven't thought about in a long time. So I'm thankful for the reminder, but a little irked that some sacred memories have to be adjusted to the new now.

Yet, whenever I see The Wizard of Oz, I will always think of terrible summers, heat waves, Caitlin, Pink Floyd, the cast recording of Rent, and some of the purest optimism I've ever felt.

I was thinking about little holiday rituals, "The Wizard of Oz" being to Thanksgiving as "It's a Wonderful Life" is to Christmas.

You have network television to blame for that.

And one of the most common rituals is to tell all the dinner guests what you're thankful for this year. Yet, instead of being thankful for things, spend some time and think about the moments that you're thankful for.

Cause people come and go. Treasures fall in and out of fashion and your health will only get worse, but those moments, even the ones that change from black and white to sepia tone, you get to keep for always.

They're the ones that define who you are.

Even if you're the kind of guy that talks to roast beef sandwiches.

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