Believe it or not, there was a time in which my family attended church services. Please don’t blow this out of proportion. I was but a wee one and our attendance just an effort to keep up with appearances. When we lived in Duchess County, New York, my mother worked as a secretary in a quaint little Episcopal church. I know that religious affiliation shouldn’t be taken into account during the hiring process but I think that if a person is working for the church, they should at least pretend to be affected by a man supposedly dying for our sins. Just a thought.
I do have a few vivid memories of that very old, stone church. I remember the red door and pebbled parking lot and massive basement that housed the day care. Other than those details, I remember nothing. Our brains aren’t really attuned to retaining information in the early phases of life. As for most people, I just believe the stories that my parents tell. Like when they say that I once locked myself inside a cat carrier at Kmart. After tearing the store apart and recruiting every employee on the floor to search for their precious Jeremy, I was sitting happily in a crate, pretending to be a cat. I have no recollection of such an event but they insist it happened. It certainly sounds like something I would have done. Another important memory comes not from by brain but from their mouths: More evidence for the argument that I am, in fact, touched by the supernatural.
The quaint mountain town on Bangall, New York is not exactly a haven for celebrities. Many Manhattanites may unknowingly drive through on their way to go antiquing or apple picking in the surrounding villages, but it’s by no means a destination. But there was a very old, very important woman from Hollywood’s golden age who made it her home.
Not all faded film stars retreat into giant mansions and turn into caricatures of themselves. Some have such an effect on the world, they need not flaunt their success. Retirement in a simple home built during the Civil War is enough. They can sit back with a cup of tea and watch their influence on nearly every child in the nation, maybe even the world. Margaret Hamilton was just that kind of lady.
For you morons that don’t know who Mrs. Hamilton is, go shoot yourselves. After you’ve done that, go watch The Wizard of Oz, you fucking philistines. She’s the witch. Yes, the Wicked Witch of the West. You know, the one that basically became the archetype for not just witches but general villainy in the twentieth century. Through her evil cackle, twisted fingers and hunched meandering through Oz, Margaret Hamilton became the stuff of nightmares for generations of children.
What child wasn’t completely enthralled with The Wizard of Oz? I’m not just talking about the gay ones, either. Yes, we were especially prone to its glory but I know many a straighty that yearned to skip down a yellow lane. This guy wore out four copies of the VHS but my hetero counterpart may have only gone through one. That movie played at least once a day for the first five years of my life. When I wasn’t standing in front of our television, mimicking every one of Judy’s lines, I was reenacting the story on the couch with Mom’s broom and red pumps. Our dog was too large to play Toto so our cat was recruited for the roll. The fun we had…
Most children end up taking after Dorothy but I was showing signs of the Witch’s treachery long before my father adopted the broom. Every night before bed, my poor mother needed to perfectly recite the events that went down over the rainbow. If she messed up, I’d make her start all over again. The process could take hours. Twenty years later, mom can’t bring herself to watch the movie or see a stage production of that classic tale. She’d simply had too much during my youth.
Christmas Eve, 1984. My parents attend service at the little church with their little bundle of joy. Born five months prior, I have absolutely no remembrance of the events that were to take place. Like Princess Aurora, I was given magical gifts as a child. That sleeping beauty may have been gifted a great voice, exquisite beauty and the curse of sleeping death but I was given something much greater. Her Witchiness, Margaret Hamilton, held me.
Maggie didn’t go to church often but it was a holiday and every good Christian goes to services on holidays. She was also quite ill so getting out probably wasn’t a top priority. She’d die in 1985. But before she took her place in the sky next to Dorothy, she saw a happy couple with their new baby boy. She asked to hold me and my parents obliged. She was the fucking Wicked Witch…of course they would let her hold me!
I can’t help but think of that night as a sign from the mother goddess. She not only set the stage for an entire life of warlockery, she somehow invested me with a freakish obsession over her crowning achievement. She may have only played a witch on TV but she had powers. Some families assign Godparents to their children. Fantastical families like mine have Witchparents. Obviously, the great green lady is one of mine.
Further down the yellow brick road, I would fancy the works of a certain author, Gregory Maguire. He would write a novel, Wicked, which chronicles the life of the Wicked Witch, Elphaba, before her debacle with Dorothy. That book would be made into a musical, in which a best friend of mine would become employed at. The success of said musical prompted Mr. Maguire to write more adventures in Oz. And what is the title of Maguire’s follow up to Wicked? Son of a Witch. The book chronicles the adventures of the Elphaba’s gay son! To top it off, my friend would get Gregory to be the first professional in the field to read my first (very unpublished, very unrepresented) novel, mentoring me in the beginning phases of the publication process. If Maggie H. is my Witchmother, Greg M. is my Witchfather. Don’t believe me? I’ll enslave you like the Winkie trash you really are.A striking resemblance, I know.