It’s a little known tale, you see, because no one ever wants to speak about it. Judy Garland’s agent wouldn’t hear of it, folded up his tent and went to a different studio. And none of these munchkins, here known as the Klaynikins, were interested either. They were busy complaining about the story being too close to home. Who knew? In Oy, they were the help and spent their days cleaning up after that spoiled, skin and bones witch in the elaborate tutu. But, even they admit, to this day no one had ever said a bad word about Mindel, the good witch. You know why? Come on, think about it, but you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure it out. Okay, if you haven’t guessed yet, I’ll tell you. Because she was the pretty one. Okay, there, I’ve said it and I won’t take it back. The only reason Mindel had always been the good one was because she was the pretty one.
But, pretty can only get you so far and last you so long, so it might be wise to think about the future and any other possible gifts you might have to offer for when that sorry time of grepsing (burping) at the mirror when you see your reflection comes…It happened to Mindel and it could happen to you.
Now let’s talk about Mindel’s cousin, you know, the meeskite (ugly one) with the long warty nose, green complexion, stringy black hair, hunchback, and a voice that could send Simon Cowell to Bellevue. They didn’t even want to give her name. Can you imagine? Not even worthy of a name. Some of the Oyites, the townspeople, started calling her Kelev (dog) because she liked to hover around trees and fire hydrants. But, it was probably her ability to catch a Spaulding ball in her mouth that cemented the name. Anyway, she wasn’t the happy type, so in addition to her hunch, she had an unsightly chip on her shoulder. Who could blame her?
Kelev didn’t come from very good stock, and anyone who knows a thing about what makes a fine dish understands the importance of fundamental ingredients. Her parents weren’t particularly balbatish (respectable). They ran a deli everyone knew was a front for the Russian mob, and what was worse, they didn’t seem to care. They had easy access to all the dressing and corn bread they could want, the sauerkraut was an afterthought. At first they did okay, with a steady stream of Oyites coming in for lunch specials, but there were just so many days they could turn a profit on Reubens and Dr.Brown’s. Kelev was still an infant when they were arrested for drug trafficking. Your honor, we thought it was boric acid to kill the roaches. But, the judge didn’t believe them through all the sneezing and they were carted off to jail leaving Kelev to be cared for by her unadoring aunt and uncle.
Now we all know how sad it was for stunning, unabashedly gorgeous Cinderella to live with her moderately ugly stepfamily, so one must understand how life for Kelev was unbearable. There was no one she could relate to, no one else made the lights go out just by walking into a room. If she could turn them on that way too they might’ve used her as a personal Clapper, but alas, she could not and was banished to the barn to live with the goats and horses whose shrieks of disgust could not be discerned.
At first, Kelev didn’t have the strength to be cruel. She let Mindel walk all over her, literally. If there was a puddle in the street after a hard rain, Mindel would force Kelev to lie down and be her bridge. Kelev willingly complied, hoping to tame her hunch, but it didn’t rain often enough for it to work. There was really nothing in Kelev’s life but despair, and a little cat she found and named Foto, after finding a baby picture of hers in a trinket box that was left as one of her only possessions.
Then one day, it happened. There was a torrential storm and Mindel insisted Kelev assume her position so Mindel could get across the street without getting her feet wet. (Mindel was never very adventurous). So there Kelev was with Foto tucked into her pocket lying in the road waiting for Mindel to get to the other side. But, the wind was fierce and Mindel was too chicken to move. Whooosh…Mindel went flying right down the chimney into the house. (I know, there’s a lot going on here, but our people have a complicated history). But, the wind wouldn’t let up and soon the house was swept into the vortex. It landed squarely on Kelev’s hunch and lo and behold she was saved from the fate of their never spoken about great-aunt who wore black and white Raggedy-Ann socks and red orthopedic shoes. (There were pictures of that catastrophe floating all around The Oy Times and Daily Oy when it happened).
The wind continued, lifting the house off of Kelev’s hunch and sailing her across town into a field of carnations. At first Kelev thought she had happened upon a 1970’s bar-mitzvah, but when she looked around nothing else familiar was in sight. Foto purred and Kelev felt like a weight had been lifted off of her, which of course, it had, but the hunch was gone too.
With the storm passed and the sun shining, they followed what appeared to be a peel and stick linoleum road that led to the Wizard of Oy who was known to be a miracle-maker. Kelev wasn’t sure where they were headed, but a stuffed doll on a stick told them he could help them out if they unhinged him. Kelev agreed, but found it odd that the doll hadn’t been terrorized at the sight of her. “Gib a kik,” (give a look) she said, sticking her chin out. But there was no flinching. The doll simply said, “So nu, another shayna maidel (pretty girl). Fahr vus (why) I should take you to the Wizard of Oy?“
What?! He said she was pretty. Was she dreaming? She asked him to look again, but he had the same answer. So, in that moment she realized that whatever magic she had wished for had already happened and she had no need to see the Wizard and even less need to return to her nasty town and even nastier family. She followed the doll along the path and met up with assorted little men who brought her to their house, and given her creamy complexion, insisted on calling her Snow White.
Mindel on the other hand didn’t fare as well. She emerged from the house unscathed, but had no clue who she was, especially when she looked in the mirror. Then she grepsed and let out a geschrei (scream) you could hear in Jerusalem, which is very far from Oy, (unless your in-laws are in town). She was a meeskite if ever there was one. Her family never found her and if they had, well frankly my dears, they didn’t give a damn. Her only recollection was a terrible storm and an ugly girl whose ugliness was inexplicably gone with the wind. (Yes-this was the story that won the Oscar that year). Some say on a foggy, quiet day you can still see Mindel’s unforgiving spirit trolling the streets as she mutters in that insufferable voice…”I’ll get you my pretty, and your little kitty too…”