“Honey, what are your plans for this afternoon?”
My husband handed me a cup of piping hot blackberry tea and beckoned me to sit at the dining room table. He pulled up a chair and joined me.
I took the cup of tea and appreciatively inhaled the fragrant steam. I blew on the liquid to cool it, then took a few sips before answering Miles. “I have to come up with an idea for this week’s blog, but after that, I think I’m free. Why? Did you want to do something today?”
Miles sighed. “Well, I’m all caught up on the work around the house, and with the COVID 19 restrictions, I can’t go anywhere or do anything outside the house. So, I was hoping you and I could go on a date. After lunch today, I can make some popcorn and we can watch some old movies on DVD. I think perhaps some fantasy would help lift our spirits.”
“Poppin’ corn? Ye be makin’ some poppin’ corn?” My Old Dwarf walked past the dining room table and headed to the adjoining kitchen. I could hear him rummaging around in the refrigerator. When he returned, he had the makings of some sandwiches . . . enough to feed a small army for a week or keep one hungry dwarf from starving in the two hours until lunchtime. As he spread the food out on the table and began to assemble the sandwiches, he gave Miles a hopeful look. “Did ye been sayin’ ye be makin’ some poppin’ corn later this day, laddie?”
Miles and I looked at each other and sighed.
Soon after lunch, my characters and I found our seats in the living room, facing the television set. Miles distributed large bowls of buttered popcorn to everyone before he took his seat next to me.
“Thank you for inviting us to see this movie with you and Mistress Writer, Master Miles. This should be very entertaining.” My Foreman smiled as he took a handful of popcorn and started eating.
“Yes, thank you!” Cleric daintily nibbled a kernel of popcorn. “What is this movie about?”
“Be there any dwarves in tha movie?” My Old Dwarf was already half-way through his bowl of popcorn.
“Or dragons?” Dragon, in her guise as the maiden Dray, looked hopeful.
“Or Gypsies?” My Gypsy lad grinned. “There must be Gypsies!”
I laughed. “Well, you’ll just have to wait and see for yourself what it’s about, but I can tell you there are no Gypsies, no dragons, and no dwarfs. There are some witches, and a wizard, along with some flying monkeys and a few other fantastical creatures. I think you’ll enjoy it.”
Miles reached for the remote control for the DVD player and started the movie. Everyone grew quiet.
Just minutes into the film, my Old Dwarf asked around a mouthful of popcorn, “What be wrong wit tha color? It be lookin’ all brownish and muddy-like.”
Miles paused the DVD so I could explain. “This movie starts out in the mundane day-to-day world of the main character, Dorothy. It was filmed in sepia tones . . . what you called muddy brownish color . . . to present a contrast with the rest of the film.”
“Why does it need a contrast?” My Bounty Hunter frowned.
“That will become apparent. Now let’s just watch the movie.” I sighed as the movie resumed.
Things were going well until Dorothy began singing about a storied land Over the Rainbow. My Arrogant One scoffed and sniffed disdainfully. “What is she doing? People don’t just start singing like that!”
Miles paused the movie again. “This type of motion picture is known as a musical. As well as being very entertaining, the song lyrics are used to eloquently express important themes and ideas.”
Miles and I exchanged exasperated looks as he hit play on the remote control, and the movie resumed.
My characters seemed to be enjoying the story until Miss Gulch tried to take Toto from the Gales. There were numerous murmurs of alarm among the group, and Cleric leapt to her feet, knocking over two bowls of popcorn. “No! No, she must not be allowed to destroy that poor, innocent animal!”
Miles stopped the video again and cleaned up the spilled popcorn as I tried to calm Cleric. “Relax!” I placed a hand on her shoulder. “It’s make-believe. It’s just a story. The dog will be fine.”
Cleric blushed. “I do know it is not real, but I got so caught up in the story! I apologize for getting so upset.”
Miles went to the kitchen and returned with more popcorn. Once everyone was settled down again, he started the DVD once more.
The movie continued with frequent whispered comments from my characters about everything from the realistic portrayal of an approaching tornado (and the unrealistic portrayal of Dorothy up inside the cyclone), to the background music (which some of my characters found distracting), to Professor Marvel’s crystal (Sorceress admired it), to the way Miss Gulch shape-shifted into the Wicked Witch (Dray found it most intriguing).
When Dorothy opened the door of her house to the color and splendor of a different land, all my characters gasped. But when Glinda proclaimed only bad witches are ugly, my characters immediately broke into a loud debate, and Miles paused the movie once more.
“One’s physical appearance is no clue to their inner virtue or lack thereof.” In spite of the fact that Dragon had assumed the appearance of her alter-ego, Dray, black smoke started to drift from her nose.
“I am not certain I agree with that.” My Arrogant One stood to face Dray. He drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, grasped his cloak with both hands, and scowled. “Elves are the most beautiful race in any world, and our virtue is legendary!”
My Gypsy hooted. “Legendary? Your virtue?” He grabbed his sides and dissolved into a fit of laughter.
I stepped in before the altercation could become physical. “Okay, that’s enough. Let’s hold the rest of the comments until the end. Just sit back and enjoy the movie, please.”
Miles and I sighed again, but soon I was as amused by my character’s reactions as by the movie itself.
My characters seemed rather taken with the Munchkins, smiling as the little people sang Dorothy out of their city. They all seemed intrigued by the Scarecrow and the Tin Man, but they appeared unanimously disdainful of the Cowardly Lion.
As we continued watching Dorothy’s journey through Oz, my characters made only occasional whispered comments. I could hear my Young Hero, my Gypsy, and my Foreman oohing and aahing over the horse of a different color, while Dray, Cleric, and Sorceress were enchanted with the Emerald City. They all seemed bored as the Cowardly Lion sang while Dorothy and her companions awaited the return of the guard so they could see the Wizard. And they loudly booed the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz as he tried to intimidate Dorothy and the others.
“Big bully! I would like just two minutes alone with him!” Dray fumed.
As Dorothy and her companions entered the Haunted Forest, you cold have heard a pin drop in our living room. The only sounds were from the movie. But when the Lion started his mantra of I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks. I do — I do — I do — I do — I do, my Old Dwarf loudly harrumphed. “Ye be wise ta be believin’ in ’em, beastie. Ghosties be real!”
“Indeed.” My Young Hero was ashen, with sweat on his brow and upper lip. “I can attest to that fact.”
A look from me silenced my characters again until the witch’s winged monkeys landed in the forest and started capturing Dorothy and the others. Suddenly my Old Dwarf jumped up and brandished his axe and ran right at the television. “I be savin’ ye!”
I yelped. “No! Stop him!”
My Foreman and my Bounty Hunter grabbed him and pinned his arms to his side. Miles and I jumped up and quickly disarmed him.
The rotund figure squirmed away from his captors and sputtered. “But . . . but . . . look!” He pointed to the television. “Them wing-ed beasties be catchin’ Dorothy an’ the others. We gotta be savin’ ’em!”
I scowled. “It’s not real, remember? It’s just make-believe. And they’re not really inside the television. It’s just a movie. You know, pictures that move.”
Dray frowned at the dwarf. “For as many years as we have been here in this world, for as many times as you have watched this magic box Mistress Writer calls a television, one would think you would have a rudimentary understanding of how it functions.”
My Old Dwarf hung his head and shuffled one foot back and forth. “I be real sorry. I been forgettin’. It all be seemin’ so real!”
I nodded. “I understand. But if you’re going to watch the rest of this movie, you have to stay in your seat and not cause any more commotion.”
The red-faced dwarf nodded and shuffled back to his chair. Miles backed up the DVD to the point where the winged monkeys made their appearance. While the dwarf was visibly agitated by the scene, squirming and fidgeting in his seat, he remained silent.
All my characters were on the edge of their seats as Dorothy’s companions were making their way to her rescue. When Dorothy melted the witch, they broke into raucous cheers and applause. And they booed the Wizard again when Dorothy and the others returned to the Emerald City with the witch’s broom.
“Bully!” Dray glowered at the figure on the television screen.
The Wizard earned more boos and jeers when he was unable to control his hot air balloon and wait for Dorothy.
Sorceress scowled as Dorothy clicked her heels together and made the trip back to Kansas. “I cannot believe Glinda was so cruel as to make Dorothy and her companions endure that ordeal when she could have told her without delay how to get home.”
“It be all brownish an’ muddy-like agin,” my Old Dwarf grumbled around his mouthful of popcorn.
“They are back in the mundane world again.” Dray whispered.
As Dorothy proclaimed there’s no place like home, there was not a dry eye among my characters, and my Bounty Hunter seemed to sum up everyone’s feelings. “That is an indisputable axiom.”
Everyone’s feelings, except perhaps those of my Arrogant One. He snickered and raised an eyebrow. “Indeed. Now I wonder why that important theme was not eloquently expressed in song.”
My characters drifted out of the room trying to top each other in creating songs about home, and going home, and how there’s no place like home.
Later, Miles and I talked about inviting my characters to watch more movies with us.
“I’m not sure they really understood the concept of the musical, but I think they enjoyed the show anyway. I bet they would love the Harry Potter series, or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or maybe The Dark Crystal or even some of the Jumanji movies.” I gave Miles a questioning look as I handed him the dirty bowls to place in the dishwasher.
My husband appeared to consider this as he added the detergent and finisher, and started the appliance. Then he gave me a mischievous grin. “Oh, no, no, no, no! I disagree. The way they all left the room singing, they obviously loved the music! I think we should invite them to watch West Side Story with us.”
It’s hard to keep my little band of displaced characters entertained during this time of COVID 19 social distancing. It’s even harder for Miles and me to stay entertained. How are you all dealing with these troubling times? We hope you will return again next week to spend some time with us. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.