Forks In My Drawer 2: Be a Fred

Having never been to Kansas, knowing any real spinning Dorothy, or nick-namingly connecting Dots in my life, I can say mid-western wind is nothing I’m all too familiar. It’s as strange as trying to properly place the word “with” in that last sentence. I have, however, been close to a fictitional Dorothy in my life.

I directed a local production of “Oz” a few years ago in an historically beautiful theater … on the musical side of the house. The cast was spectacular, talented, and quite charming.

Scarecrow scampered about, dripping brainless wit and sardonic straw on the audience of dreams. Our heartless, lovable Tin Man clanked and clampered. We had a fuzzy Lion in wait, as he humbly and without pride sat fearing the next moment of unexpected surprises.

Professor Marveled the audience evenings on end and Glinda glittered her way into their hearts. Em’s not all the cast and crew, to be sure. Our production team – including the pit orchestra – was spectacular. On and on I could go like a word twister twisting his words.

Alas, admittedly, I could not place even a brick in the wonderfully written word road L. Frank Baum wrote eighty-one years ago eventually going to the big screen losing in the best picture category to Gone With The Wind. Not a bad way to lose. Buckets of expressions behind my curtains of cute constructions here pale in comparison to his eventual cinematic creation.

Who, including me, writes of “Oz” without mentioning Margaret Hamilton? Nobody, I say…nobody. Her evilistic sneer chasing down a gulping shot of little children dread … with the pointy hat, black-hearted, now special adulting appreciation laughter she had is one role for the ages.

As wicked as the witch was, she was predictable – as always. Since the film debuted in 1939, and every flying monkey year since, eyes have been Toto-ally expecting her to melt her way into our hearts.

Just like Fred. A stretch? Allow me to explain.

Fred wasn’t in that production. I doubt he was ever in a stage play, although I do know he played the piano and drums. This from our brief encounters next to each other – I, the hot dawg, sausage dude, and he, the flatbread, pizza guy. We’ve had some “get to know one another chats” lately due to just meeting two weeks ago. Nice dough smasher and sauce spreader, he is. Just didn’t know how nice until this morning.

The evening before, house spinning winds wound through the lot where Fred, I, and others set up shop to sell our food-stuffs. I’ve been at this over fifteen years. Snow, wind, rain, lightening, hail, excessive heat and cold, .. whatever, I’ve been through it all. That said, I AM exaggerating by writing, “house spinning”. A little puppy breeze came through…(don’t judge me. It was a long week up to that point and I’m entitled to some big bloviating)…

…and since I neglected to tie down my “less than cheap almost brand new” canopy, this Kansas wind lifted up said tarp, threw it up against Fred’s truck, and finally allowed its final resting place to be ten yards behind my van, upside down, with a broken side bracket.

There aren’t enough words in “Oz” to describe the words I wanted to say out loud, but did utter in my pretty little dog head. Two customers, Fred, and I were obviously too late in holding down the hot-air balloon canopy lifting off for home as it gleefully, seemingly, gave me the Emerald City middle finger while flying by.

Enter professor Marvel Fred. A simple wardrobe switch of a pair of ruby red shoes for a tap welder and grinder. He came in a little early to repair my brain and canopy. Didn’t have to, but did. Took him all of about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes out of his busy prep morning to help me. Time I’m sure he could have spent with his new puppy at home, three kids, or wife.

Courage to help a friend … a heart to reach out … and the brains to know how. THAT’S Fred, a new friend on my personal yellow brick road.

Yesterday was another fork in drawer moment as I forgot to tie down my new, rather expensive, canopy. The wind was just enough to aargh the canopy, but more than enough to uplift my hope and faith in all the great possibilities living within people.

This is a weird time. We certainly need more Freds circling around our little towns. When the big scary winds stop, we can open our eyes and say in our own way: “Oh, Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke … you were there! … I knew you’d be! You helped me find the way forward. I knew the problem, but not the solution at the moment. Thank you.”

There truly is no place like home when you find someone who is willing to go out of their way to help you.

I like Fred. Maybe I can be more like Fred. Be a Fred for someone. Be Oz-some today even if for a moment. You never know whose life will be different when the winds suddenly change.

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