The most notorious villain in movie history is my hero.
In fact, some would say I’ve taken her a little too close to my heart. It began in high school, some thirty years ago. Being a quiet, sometimes shy and well-behaved teenager, I went unnoticed by the popular crowd. I lacked self-esteem, felt extremely awkward and to make matters worse, I had a hideous laugh.
I couldn’t concentrate in class on audition day. My stomach roiled at the thought of getting in front of my peers and doing the unthinkable, pretending to be a make-believe character in front of an audience. Giant moths had invaded my stomach, fluttering like they do to get inside a light bulb, except they were clamoring to get out of me, tickling their way up my throat. At three o’clock I rushed to the bathroom closed the stall door and tried to talk myself out of it.
My friends’ words played like movie credits in my mind.
“We dare you!”
If I didn’t give it a try, I’d be a coward. Maybe the Lion part would suit me better?
No. It had to be the witch.
I dug deep to find my courage. So deep, my toes curled. Taking a deep breath and clicking my heels, I pushed open the door and marched to the auditorium.
Our director seemed to think I’d be perfect for Dorothy. Was it because I was a respectful, attentive listener and quietly reserved Christian girl who would never think of being the Wicked Witch of the West?
After reading and singing for Dorothy, I returned to my spectator seat to await my opportunity. The Moths returned, now the size of pterodactyls. The clock on the wall clicked out seconds, millions of them. I became oblivious to the rest of the auditions, wafting into a tornado daydream.
I returned to reality with the suddenness of a house dropped onto a cornfield.
Someone called my name and in a Technicolor daze, I tiptoed to the center of the stage.
From the darkness below the voice asked, “Which scene?”
“Yes,” I replied.
A rumbling guffaw cut the still air of the auditorium.
“Let’s just start from the scene where she suddenly enters, taking the munchkins by surprise,” the voice said.
I took a deep breathe and crouched into a witchy pose. The cackle spewed loud, long and wicked. I pointed a crinkled finger at Dorothy and in my best Margaret Hamilton imitation asked, “Who killed my sister? Was it you?”
I read through the rest of the scene and silenced the audience with another spine tingling laugh.
The deed was done. I’d crossed a threshold that would change my life forever.