Run, Toto, Run!! If You Know What I Mean

The Wizard of Oz Garland Lahr Haley Bolger 1939
photo credit: via Wikimedia Commons

T IS MY contention that all aspects of life, no matter how trivial or consequential, can be addressed by a line of dialog from the 1939 film classic, The Wizard of Oz. There are essentially two types of Oz quotes, which shall be categorized here as: Type I and Type II. Type I should be used on those occasions when speaking the ugly truth might lead to lasting hostilities, and we don't want that now, do we. I provide footnotes as a reference to less familiar dialog. Try these handy substitutions, or create your own. Use immediately for best results.

Type I

OZ: "I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." should replace

The Tactless You: "Wrong exit again, Einstein."

OZ: "Toto, too?" should replace

The Tactless You: "I'd sooner invite a league of killer bees to our barbeque than your Aunt Myrtle, bub."

OZ: "Oh, what a world, what a world!"1 should replace

The Tactless You: "Oh, is that your new dress? I could hurl."

Now I'm not claiming that your listener will always know exactly what you meant to say; however, your words will at least be associated with the sweet memories of watching Oz as a child on a warm Sunday evening in spring. (Warning: This association has been established only with baby boomers. Those born before or after 1945-64 may experience adverse reactions to include confusion, headaches, and uncontrollable urination. In extreme cases, root canal may be necessary.)

Sometimes expediency is our best friend, and the blunt or "crude" approach, if you will, is preferred over time-consuming diplomacy. Type II substitutions are therefore best used with strangers, whom you are not likely to run into at a family picnic. It's a small world, however, so use at your own discretion. That's my disclaimer against your running to me if things go terribly wrong.

Type II

The Meandering You: "Pardon me, but as this is a restaurant and not your living room, do you really think it's a good idea to let your children run freely amok, screaming like rock stars and throwing food?" should be replaced by

OZ: "Seize them! Se-e-e-e-eize them!!!"2

The Meandering You: "Oh, Marie, isn't it nice that this large man, with his drunken smile and busy hands, has chosen us to become his extremely close friends?" should be replaced by

OZ: "Let's run!"3

The third Type II example requires an illustration, as it could mean your life one day. Let us say you're lying in the road, God forbid, because of a driver who doesn't believe in crosswalks, and you were hapless enough to be using one just as he decided to practice his freedom of expression at 40 m.p.h.

You are now face-to-face with a hovering paramedic, bearing a nagging resemblance to Peter Lorre. You soon discover that he is gravely eager to save humanity, minus one (you, silly). He could say to you, as he rifles through your wallet and scans your i.d., "I see the 'Yes' box next to organ donor is not checked—YET!"—thus scaring you quite to death. But this is criminal, and too obvious because you are surrounded by a crowd of witnesses, albeit a slightly ghoulish crowd. Instead, he leans in and hisses into your ear, "That's you all over!"4

Ah, it appears Mr. Paramedic is fluent in Oz. Have you met your match? Are you doomed?? How do you show your distaste for him and his voyeur chorus, and the likelihood of your handing any one of them your liver??? You pull from the Oz files, my indisposed friend, and call out with the last of your strength, "I'll give you Auntie Em!!"5

And with that you have delivered yourself from the jaws of death, or at least from the teeth of excessive infirmity. You are immediately whisked to the nearest managed-care hospital, "treated," and prematurely released.

Now that I have provided you with the basic tools of Oz communication, I want you to take it from here. To help you on your way I shall leave you with a few more quotes that you can substitute in the manner best suited to your conversational needs. Remember, these lines are infinitely flexible, so I have no doubt that you'll think of numerous clever uses for them.

Knock 'em dead with:

"Get in there before I make a dime bank outta ya."

"What would you do with a brain if you had one?"

"Courage." (The sorry example of Dan Rather, who for a brief time used this Oz quote to end his nightly newscast on CBS. But he, like you, was a novice, and in his timidity did not pronounce the word with enough confidence, so that viewers reported hearing his send off variously as "Cabbage," "Garbage," "Carthage," and "Jock Itch." Therefore, I can't recommend this one until you're better practiced.)

"I hope your tail holds out!"

"Give me back my slippers, you clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk!" (There's no rule against combining quotes—feel free to use your imagination, you billowing bale of bovine fodder.)

"Are you doing that on purpose or can't you make up your mind?"

"Where would you like to be oiled first?"

And so forth.

So off you go—good luck, everyone. I already hear some of you asking how and where to use these little gems, and when will you be as skilled at Oz conversation as I? To this there is, naturally, only one reply: All in good time, my pretty, all in good time.