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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

We're Off!

We already knew the wind would be an issue. It's a given. Besides all the weather forecasters seemed to be in agreement for once. The wind was going to blow. We came out of the AA meeting, did a little grocery shopping to hold my friend's grandma over until our return that evening, and went in search of lunch. Elephant Bar was a nice change of pace. We typically dine out downscale, but this afternoon was an outing and we intended to eat like it. Groaning a little, we made our exit and went to seek out our venue, which was very nearby and very easy to locate. "My god," I breathed, "look at the roof of the thing. Where do you suppose people sit, down in the ground?" We were off to see the wonderful Wizard of Oz!

I wasn't too far off the mark, as it turned out. The huge, industrial brassiere-inspired canopy covers a descending pit of 2,500 theater seats with grassy slopes and lawn chairs nearby for those who choose to dine and watch a show al fresco. Modern, clean, well-maintained, it occurred to me this venue might be a little high stepping for Henderson (which I have always called Hooterville), but who am I to complain about progress? "Meet Diane at Will Call," read our instructions. Um, yep, as long as I don't have to slither on the ground like a snake to find her. As volunteer ops go, I'd give high marks to both my organization Acts of Kindness and to the Henderson Pavilion for their attention to detail, clear vision of what they needed the volunteers to do, hospitality, instructions and materials to hand out, new vests and name tags no one had ever worn before. About 10 minutes into it, we knew what our afternoon held in store!

By 2:45 p.m., we were shivering in our seats at the top of the arena, teeth chattering, bone chilling. Fairly good in a pinch, when I heard there would be a pair of volunteers needed deep down in the pit in the stage area, I elbowed my friend in the ribs and arched an eyebrow. She gave an almost imperceptible nod. She'd got my message. Likely, we came across as a pair of pretty pushy broads, but we secured our berth at the orchestra pit, ostensibly beneath the screaming gale that shot through the open area under the canopy. It wasn't perfect, but we probably had the best location under the circumstances. We did our share of pointing out restrooms and concession stands, solving the mysteries of Section B Left and Section B Right, keeping interlopers out of the orchestra seating if they'd not paid for the higher-priced ticket, and we finally settled into our seats to watch the show.

My friend has a degree in Theatre Arts. I do not. She said it was a very good play for what it is: small Shakespeare company, no money, large rafts of volunteers everywhere. The sound was great, the staging very good. I'll be honest. The Wizard of Oz is not high on my list of favorites. But this was fun and I'm glad I went. I am tucking a handful of good things into my experience basket and I'll definitely volunteer for these folks (both Acts of Kindness and the Henderson Pavilion) again. I got a bit more desensitized to flying monkeys, too, a long time terror.

A few things that charmed me: Opportunity Village is a Las Vegas institution - a non-profit organization serving individuals with intellectual disabilities. A good number of Opportunity Village clients played parts in the Wizard and they were amazing! We saw them arriving on the bus - so serious, practicing their lines or songs, carrying bright costumes. They drew many rounds of applause, obvious proud parents and friends cheering them from the audience. My favorite was a young man who played a guardsman in the castle of the Wicked Witch. He required a motorized wheelchair to move in line with the other marching guards. As he came onstage, his battle ax, affixed to the back of his wheelchair, proved too tall to pass under the doorway. The soldier immediately behind him reached out without fanfare, moved the shaft of the weapon about 15-degrees and the parade moved on. The entire time they were onstage, my eyes were drawn to that tilted war weapon and the smiling face in the wheelchair.

The star of the show was an SPCA rescue dog, a little Chihuhua mix named Cheeto who played the part of Toto. He was a pretty remarkable little well-behaved dog who endured a lot of handling by different people with equanimity. Until about the third act when the Scarecrow let fly with a fairly loud solo tune in the immediate vicinity of the dog who happened to be in Dorothy's arms at the time. That dog snapped and snarled, barking until Dorothy put him down with obvious concern. He was clearly pissed off at the Scarecrow for the rest of the show pulling back his lips in a snarl and showing his teeth.

Standing in place, stage left at the orchestra, I whispered to my friend, "Dorothy to starboard." My friend knows about theater, not about things nautical, so she looked both left and right before she spotted the child coming down the aisle. This child was Dorothy. The gingham jumper, the ruby slippers, the hair-do, the basket hanging on her arm. About 6 years old, her face glowing, she approached us for programs. We gave her several and commented on her beautiful costume. "Why aren't you backstage with the other performers?" we asked. "Oh, I'm not in the play!"Huh? We looked at each other. I guess the kid's mother dresses her up or allows her to dress herself up as characters when she goes out somewhere. I am a mom who encouraged imaginative play, including costumes and role playing, but this one made me pensive. I thought about the child and the mother at every break in the action. And I kept looking in the seats behind me to see if there was some damned flying monkey kid waiting to pounce.

Trivia question for a virtual prize: No fair Googling or Wiki-ing until one tries to answer! What color were the ruby slippers in the 1900 L. Frank Baum children's novel?


  1. Ruby red seems too obvious...green?

  2. @ CramCake ~ Thank you for participating, but not green!

  3. The answer is silver. The movie changed the color to red, because that looked better in Technicolor.

    "the huge, industrial brassiere-inspired canopy." HA! Madonna's, I'd reckon.

    Hmm...you don't like Alice in Wonderland OR The Wizard of Oz. I take it the visit-to-the-magical-land genre of children's literature isn't your cup of tea. How do you feel about Peter Pan?

  4. @ Kirk ~ Ha! You got it, my friend. And I knew you would. I told my friend yesterday, "Kirk will know silver and he'll likely know why they became red."

    Madonna's bra is a good guess. Man, that roof was a bit much for a woman who had only so recently been traumatized by a size 42H bra in a store. Yow.

    Honestly, I'm a little bit hinky about several of the best know children's stories. I was a really imaginative and fearful child and I had no other child around to bounce things off of. It's not like I'm 58 and still frozen in fear, but I'm touchy about some stories. I held none back from Amber, by the way. My friend asked the other day if I'd noticed so many of the Disney animated stories had dead or dying mothers or fathers . . . uh, YEAH.

  5. Must have been worth it just for the dog! That'd have had me in stitches! Lions and tigers and snarling little yappers, oh my!

    WV: Bootivel = festival for the perusal of fine footwear!

  6. @ Rachel ~ Cheeto was a pretty mighty little fellow. Man, he was pissed off at the Scarecrow! I like a really tough little guy. They're more admirable, I think, than a tough big brute. Very good re: bootivel, Rae.