The youngest of my three sisters organized for a group of girls to go to see the musical Wicked tonight while it is playing for the short season in Auckland.
I feel I must quickly explain that none of the three sisters, nor my one kiwi brother are biologically related to me. I have only one biological sibling. He lives everywhere and nowhere and only occasionally in New Zealand and we don’t talk much. There are, however, two New Zealand families who jumped the gulf from friendship to become family nearly two decades ago now. They were host siblings in homes that kindly took me in when I was unceremoniously kicked out of my original accommodation.
Hope that makes at least a little bit of sense. Chances are you’ll be hearing about my New Zealand families quite a bit.
So tonight six incredible women, of all shapes and sizes set off to see this marvelous, charming, funny, inspiring and multi-layered masterpiece of musical theatre.
We had a quick bite to eat at Elliot Stables before heading to the theatre. Baby sister greeted me, looking absolutely radiant with her eyes shining the exact same shade of green as my 7 year old daughter’s eyes do when she is particularly happy. That fact blew my mind a little, considering they don’t actually share any genetic material.
Over dinner, I had the pleasure of sharing delightful conversation with afore-mentioned youngest sister’s best friend who really is a sweetheart on every level. She’s very tall, as apparently most of youngest sister’s best friends are. She shared a witty oration on the shortcomings of being a very tall girl. (That was me trying to by punny BTW.) I could not relate, but certainly empathized with the concept of being noticeably different, either physically or in general.
We then headed down to the theatre.
The production was amazing. I’ve seen it in London, Melbourne and New York and this rivaled (if not surpassed) them all.
It really is a fabulous story and a great way to spend a girls night. The story touches on the dangerous power of propaganda and lies, and scapegoating or profiling and laying blame on whole sections of humanity (or in the case of Wicked, animals) in times of strife.
It also very lightheartedly and effectively depicts the painful experience of running the gauntlet of post adolescence, and even life in general when you are in any way extraordinary. It cleverly and melodramatically illustrates the very different experiences of coming of age as immensely popular, or wretchedly unpopular.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I (and I’d assume most other nerdy girls) adore and relate to Elpheba. I have days when I feel like a wicked, despised and misunderstood witch (rather fittingly with the name) West, fighting a very lonely battle to stand up for what I think is right, chatting inanely, dodging and delivering insults, and getting plenty of people off-side on my journey through life.
I suppose I’ve also had plenty of friends like Glinda who have taken pity on my social awkwardness and even tried to shape me into someone, perhaps a little less strange and cringe inducing. People like this either relent and accept me as I am or put me firmly in the too hard basket. Elpheba didn’t fair quite so well sadly.
Just about everyone’s favourite Wicked number is “Defying Gravity” and rightly so. It is an AMAZING example of musical theatre perfection in delivery, arrangement and sentiment. This song very well could have one of the most powerful and emotive crescendo rich finales to ever grace the pages of theatrical history. It is also an anthem for people all over the world, fighting the good fight, defying the odds, and bravely going headlong into battle against whatever tyranny that plagues them (either real or imagined).
Defying Gravity (go on… click it, you know you want to!)
My favourite song, however is: For Good. I sing it to my son regularly. And I really do believe that people come into our lives for a reason.
For Good (just the audio… still worth a click… go on! You know you want to!)
Sadly, I did not make it to the second half of the performance that contains my personal favourite song. I had to rush out at halftime as I correctly feared that I couldn’t keep my all day baby induced sickness at bay any longer. I very nearly did not make it out of the theatre. I’ll assume the few passers by unfortunate enough to see me would have thought I’d had too much to drink. A very vulnerable and unpleasant experience and I shan’t be attending any more events that involve massive crowds (and subsequently huge queues for the ladies room) until the sickness fades.
I called Grumpy in the car to tell him that I was heading home early and why.
Rather unexpectedly, he told me that he and our 7- year-old daughter had been working out.
“Guess what Steph and I have been doing?” Said my beloved husband cheerfully.
“I have no idea” Said I.
“We’ve been working out.” Said he.
“What? Like on the Wii or something?”
“No, like I’m showing her how to use weights and the swiss ball and stuff. She said she wants to get rid of her belly.” Said husband in a disturbingly nonchalant tone. He then busted out with his very helpful nutritional advice to darling daughter; that she has to lay off white carbs and dairy and eat more lean protein and vegetables.
This is when she grabbed the phone to excitedly tell me about her evening.
“Guess what mum! I can do 3Kg now!” She said.
“Like 3 Kilo weights? Really, well, I guess that’s really good.” At this point I was beginning to get rather concerned about my daughters personal image.
She rattled on about wanting to cook chicken and meat to bring to school so that she could lose her big belly.
I rather unceremoniously told her not to worry about her tummy because she was absolutely perfect, and being a bit thick around the middle was genetic.
“Sweetheart, you’re built a little bit like a proverbial brick shithouse. You aren’t allowed to say shit ever remember. But baby, you are just made like me and your father. You are absolutely beautiful just as you are, and you are not fat. And you are 7 years old! You shouldn’t be worrying about having a bit of a belly. Did something happen?” I probed.
And the floodgates opened and the tears came down and she told me that her friend had told her that she has a big chubby tummy during their play-date earlier that day. Her friend is a sweet girl, with amazing parents, and I don’t think that this comment was meant to have the extreme effect that it did. I was absolutely floored by how deeply affected my daughter was by a peer’s offhanded comment. Devastated. She was absolutely devastated and willing to start a grueling diet and exercise regime at the tender age of 7 in attempt to gain a completely impossible and unattainable level of physical perfection.
I insisted she find her father and give him the phone so I could explain the situation to him and tell him to scoop her up in his arms and tell her she is perfect.
He did, and by the time I rushed through the door to comfort her she was already asleep. So the hysterics would have been in some part brought on by exhaustion, but it shook me up a bit none-the-less.
So. If you’ve taken the time to read this, I implore you to think long and hard about trying to curb any words that may be construed as wicked. I’m going to make a marked effort to do this today (and hopefully every day) as well. While my daughter doesn’t have the maturity or self control to disguise her hurt over a single and seemingly benign comment, the grown ups you deal with may not let you know that your words have hurt them – even if they do deeply.
I also think there’s value in trying to think really long and hard about the people we may assume are actually wicked. Because, sometimes, those who we think are villains in life are actually the heroes (and vice versa).
And last but not least, be aware of those coming into your life and the lessons that are there for you to learn. Good bad or indifferent. Keep your eyes open to whatever it is that they are there to teach you.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
I’m off to catch a plane to Christchurch and see some very cool young women who inspire me and make me laugh. (That’s you Courtney and Erin BTW). See you soon!