Sunday, 3 November 2013

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

All I ever needed to know about life I learned from Oz

I really did learn so many lessons from Oz--how to be brave, how to use the gifts you have (even when you don’t think you have them), how to be open and accepting to people/creatures who are quite different from yourself, how to go with the flow when the whole world around you is not as you expected, how you can be a princess in Oz but still have to do the washing up at home--just to name a few.   

But this is one of my favourite scenes in any Oz book--the chapter is called Scraps and the Scarecrow.

On their way to the Emerald City, our intrepid band of travellers, Ojo the Unlucky, Scraps the Patchwork Girl, Bungle the glass cat and their new friends the Woozy and the Shaggy Man , come face to face with the Scarecrow who is riding the Sawhorse (whom youll remember, oh best beloved, was brought to life using the Powder of Life). 

Upon seeing each other, the Scarecrow and the Patchwork Girl stared at each other in wonder and then asked their respective friends to tart them up a bit. OK, not the words Baum used, but thats what happened.


            “Shags,” he whispered drawing the Shaggy man aside, “Pat me into shape, there’s a good fellow!”

 While his friend patted and punched the Scarecrow’s body, to smooth out the humps, Scraps turned to Ojo and whispered:

“Roll me out please; I’ve sagged down dreadfully from walking so much and men like to see a stately figure.”

She then fell upon the ground and the boy rolled her back and forth like a rolling pin, until the cotton had filled all the spaces in her patchwork covering and her body had lengthened to it’s fullest. Scraps and the Scarecrow both finished their hasty toilets at the same time, and again they faced each other.


The Shaggy Man introduced them where after they both bowed with much dignity. Here is a photo from the 1914 silent film version of The Patchwork Girl of this meeting.

              “Forgive me for staring so rudely,” said the Scarecrow, “but you are the most beautiful sight my eyes have ever beheld.”

            “That is a high compliment from one who is himself so beautiful,” murmured Scraps, casting down her suspender button eyes by lowering her head. “But, tell me, good sir, are you not a trifle lumpy?”

         “Yes of course. It’s my straw, you know. It bunches up sometimes , in spite of all my efforts to keep it even. Doesn’t your straw ever bunch?”

          “Oh I’m stuffed with cotton,” said Scraps. “It never bunches, but it is inclined to pack down and make me sag.”

          “But cotton is a high grade stuffing. I may say it is even more stylish, not to say aristocratic, than straw,” said the Scarecrow politely. “Still, it is but proper that one so entrancingly lovely should have the best stuffing there is going. I--er--I’m so glad I’ve met you Miss Scraps! Introduce us again, Shaggy!”

         “Once is enough,” replied the Shaggy Man, laughing at his friend’s enthusiasm. 

I love this exchange because two very unique creatures who are considered “queer” (to use Baum’s words) have found each other perfect. This is how I feel about the Amazing Spiderman. From the moment we first spoke at JD’s birthday party in February of 1989, I knew he was the one for me. It was completely clear on that first night after talking for hours that we were way too weird for anyone else.

So lesson number one--beauty is in the eye of the beholder


There is someone out there for everyone