Friends of Dorothy
Friends of Dorothy
Many critics call Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz “An American fairy tale.” In 2001, when I was still early into my research for my book, I wrote a story putting the plot into a modern gay context without referring explicitly to sexual orientation. And of course there is the double meaning of “fairy tale.” :-) What do you think?
Image below from Wendy’s Wizard of Oz page; she gives permission to use.
Timothy, an only child, feels like he lives in the middle of nowhere. He is alienated from his parents; they seem more like an aunt and an uncle who he connects with only occasionally. The neighborhood bully teases and threatens him, calling him “Timid Timothy.” He feels different from those around him. Except for his pet dog, nobody understands him; no one knows what he’s going through. He fantasizes about living somewhere else, where people appreciate and understand him. He is not exactly sure what sets him apart, but he thinks that perhaps in a larger city, where people are more sophisticated, he would be more accepted.
At the end of a particularly brutal and exhausting week at school, Timothy falls asleep in the back seat of his school bus. When everyone has gotten out, the driver doesn’t realize he’s still there. Since the driver is planning to use the bus to go to the big city over the weekend, she parks the bus at her own home. Early Saturday morning the driver takes the bus to the metropolitan center quite a ways away, parks it and goes to visit some friends. Stretching and yawning, Timothy wakes up, and is surprised he’s in the school bus. But where is he? He looks out of the window of the bus. People of all ages and colors are carrying signs and chanting. There are large buildings, beautiful skyscrapers. Billboards with amazing colors. Nothing looks familiar. Timothy he realizes he’s in for an adventure. Unsure of himself, but curious, he decides to explore a little.
As soon as he pokes his head out of the bus, people crowd around. At first he thinks everyone is mad at him, but then a gentle man with nice eyes explains that the chief of police was going to attend a law enforcement convention, but the bus was parked in a diplomats only parking area, and not wanting to get any closer to who he thought were the demonstrators, the chief left. The demonstrators hail Timothy as their hero and welcome him out of the bus.
“Where am I?” asks Timothy. “The Javits Convention Center,” the man replies. Someone else shouts “The Big Apple.” Timothy is still confused. Various helpful people say, “Manhattan,” “New Yawk,” “A really big city.” He is embarrassed to explain how he got to this place. He has no idea where the bus driver is, and wonders what to do next.
The gentle man says, “You must have had quite a ride getting here.”
Overwhelmed, “I’m hungry,” is all Timothy can manage. The young man with the kind eyes (Timothy now realizes he’s not all that much older than himself) reaches into his backpack and offers Timothy an apple (too Snow White), a banana (too phallic), (I know) a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Realizing his confusion, the young man puts his arm around Timothy. “You must be here by magic. The bus driver probably is gone for the day. Welcome to New York. I’m Glen. Who are you?”
Glen introduces Timothy to three younger friends of his, Ray, Jack and Bert. They seem the exact opposite of Timothy’s swaggering school mates.
Ray is sweet and smart, “Do you want to go home? I wonder if we can figure out where the driver of this bus is.”
Jack is kind and caring, “Timmo, do you miss your parents? Don’t you want to go home?”
And Bert is timid and tentative, “Me, I’d be afraid to be alone here in the big city. If I had a home far away from here, I’d rather be there, I think”
Timothy relaxes and feels at home with these new friends. “No, I don’t want to go home, I hate it there. I wanna see what there is to see here. Besides, the driver will be gone for hours, I’m sure.”
Glen has other stuff to do, and leaves Timothy in the care of his three younger friends. Ray and Jack and Bert treat Timothy like a king, or a queen. Very soon he feels like a real New Yorker.
The four are surprised to discover they have all sorts of connections. They like the same movies and TV shows. When teams chose up for baseball, they were all picked last and put in right field where their lack of skill would do the least damage to their teams. They’ve had parallel fears and insecurities. In spite of their weaknesses, Timothy feels strong and happy with them. Timothy feels like he’s known these guys all his life. He tells them things he’s never told anyone before. Some things he’s never even thought about consciously himself.
In the course of the weekend in the fabulous and exciting city, Timothy and Ray and Jack and Bert have many adventures. They go shopping, dress up and see a Broadway musical. On Sunday they go to a pride march, and attend a youth group. Fill in your own adventures.
Late Sunday evening Ray and Jack and Bert put Timothy on a different bus back to New Jersey. Timothy has seen this commuter bus stop near his house, but never thought he’d be riding on it himself. Suddenly he’s home. He runs up to the door. His parents are glad to see him safe and sound and ask him where he’s been. Timothy is full of pride and joy and wants to share his discoveries. He tells them breathlessly about his new best friends and all his adventures, that he’s realized he’s gay.
“You can’t be gay. What a silly thing to say, honey,” his Mom says. “It doesn’t sound like you had such a great time to me.”
His Dad doesn’t say much.