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Move In Day For a Charlie's Angel MAG
When I was eight, my dad got a new job, which meant that my family would endure yet another move, adding Kansas to the list of states we'd lived in over the past several years.
Driving in our mint-green minivan to our new home, I leaned my forehead against the window and imagined myself milking cows and beginning a career as a shepherdess.
I had only seen “The Wizard of Oz” once and didn't even pay enough attention to spot the infamous Munchkin tragedy in the background. But I must have absorbed something, because I pictured my family inhabiting a quaint ranch house in the middle of a wheat field, perpetually at risk of being swept away by a tornado accompanied by dramatic music. My family added realism to the image, as I pictured my aunt riding a broomstick, her large, crooked nose protruding from a wart-ridden face. Of course she would be riding a broomstick – airfare to the Midwest from Florida is just ridiculous.
When we crossed the Kansas border, leaving the monochromatic Colorado plains for the slightly flatter and more depressing Kansas ones, I remember searching for our new abode. I thought I'd spotted it several times, but was always let down to realize that what I thought was our cozy shack in the distance was actually just a blurry herd of cows or an overturned tractor abandoned by a farmer probably during the Depression.
More shocking than mistaking livestock for our home was entering the city limits of Wichita. This was not what I'd anticipated. We soon passed strip malls where people were walking fully clothed, their mouths bereft of dangling wheat stalks. The parking lots were filled with actual cars and not horse-drawn buggies.
My excitement changed to disappointment when my mom pulled the minivan into our new driveway. The house before me was two stories, made of brick, and had a pool and swing set in the large backyard. It looked almost identical to the one we had just left behind, not to mention every other residence in the not-so-Oz neighborhood.
In the yard next to ours, two girls were playing. For a moment I was excited by the idea of befriending them. They looked about my age. Besides the fact that I was probably 20 pounds heavier, had frizzy dark hair instead of sleek blond locks, and wore bifocal glasses with airplanes on the sides, I could have been mistaken for their sister. I secretly wished I was.
“Look, sweetie, there are some girls for you to play with. Maybe tomorrow you can go over there and see if they want to swim,” my mom said, as she pulled the minivan into the garage.
“Just don't do a cannonball,” added my second-favorite brother Matt, “or all the water will fly out the pool.”
I had given up trying to fight back – with either words or fists – when my brothers made fun of me. This not only irritated them but also saved me the effort of producing comebacks with both spite and sense.
“Because you're fat,” Matt said, making sure I understood.
“And you're a narcissistic jerk,” Mom said. “But we don't go around reminding you all the time.”
“What's a narcissistic jerk?” Matt asked, curious about his new label.
“It's a rare African jungle plant,” my brother Andrew explained. He was three years older than Matt and six years older than me, making him the Dalai Lama of the household.
“I'm not a jungle plant,” Matt said matter-of-factly. “Why would you call me that?”
“Because they're handsome,” Mom replied.
During this conversation, I stared at the girls. I was dreading having to unload all our stuff, so I thought I might sneak out of the van and go meet my new best friends instead. Matt and Andrew could take the bubble wrap off my mom's menorah collection. I, on the other hand, had fate to attend to.
The only problem was that, due to my size, stealth was not my expertise. My constant wheezing made me hard to ignore, and on the way out of the minivan I accidentally stepped on Matt's foot.
“What the hell! It feels like an elephant just crushed my toe! Why are you in such a rush?”
“I pooped in my pants,” I yelled, dashing from the vehicle. “I'm gonna go hose myself off in the backyard!”
“Just throw your underwear out like last time!” my mom hollered after me.
Running from the garage like a madwoman, I felt like a modern-day James Bond. I pretended that the melting Snickers bar in my pocket was an AK-47 and that my two new best friends were being attacked by Russian spies and desperately needed to be saved. I darted behind one of the trees in our front yard and tried to steady my heart, which was beating rapidly after my dash from the garage.
Suddenly I realized that I couldn't be James Bond, for the obvious reason that he was a man. Being chubby and unattractive already provided me with enough androgyny; I didn't need to bring it upon myself. I decided that a Charlie's Angel suited me better, and my new neighbor friends would be just the pair to complete the crime-fighting trio.
Bursting from my hiding spot behind the tree, I swayed my frizzy ponytail just like I'd seen the Angels do. Thinking about it now, every family on the cul-de-sac was probably gathered at their front window to watch the new girl on the block have a seizure in her front yard. This was not my concern. What mattered was saving my partners from the evil, handlebar-mustached Russians. The fact that I was of Russian descent did not at all interfere with my mission. I was going to be a hero. No, this time, I was going to be a heroine.