Thursday, March 25, 2004

Oompah, Loompah, Doopity-Doo...

I found out from my lunch buddies yesterday that Johnny Depp will be starring in a Tim Burton remake of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” I am heartbroken; why didn’t anybody tell me before they started casting? Is it too late for me to fulfill my lifelong destiny to be an Oompah loompah?

I figured out that I was short early in life. It only takes a few school pictures of classmates towering over you, and your mom hemming up every daggone pair of pants you own to realize you’re horizontally challenged. I felt like someone special when Randy Newman’s song “Short People” came out on the radio, until I started listening to the lyrics. “Short People got no reason to live??” “Don’t want no Short People round here??” If only that rat bar-steward knew what a living hell that song made for me! They sang it to me on the playground, in the lunchroom, whenever and wherever it was time to rag on the short kid. I took the mockery in stride, however, as time went on. I recognized that most of my tormenters were either ugly, stupid, or both. Let them boost their egos on the short kid--I figured they might work for me some day, and revenge could be sweet.

Then came prepubescence, and the weight gain that often accompanies that awkward, nay, miserable stage of development. So now I was short and chubby. I admit it; I was putting away the Big Macs and fries at the time, but my normal-sized big brother was, too. I was just keeping up with my mentor. What I didn’t take into account, was that I was short, chubby, and somewhat red haired. The life-defining moment premiered at Girl Scout Camp. I was frolicking after lunch in a wooded glen with several other girls. One of them turned directly towards me and started bobbing up and down. Then she began to sing, “Oompah, Loompah, Doopity-Doo...” (For those of you that have seen the movie, that’s all the detail you need.) Within seconds, the entire group of girls surrounded me, bobbing and singing the Oompah loompah song. In a stroke of psychological well-being, I chose to celebrate the moment, rather than mire in it. Yes, I was short and chubby and red-haired. Yes, I was an Oompah loompah! They were all singing about me, focusing on me, and I reveled in the attention. I bobbed and danced about the circle, shouting, “I am an Oompah loompah!” “I love the Oompah loompahs!” My totem as an Oompah loompa was bestowed that day, and I have cherished the song, the movie, and the stubby wee auburn characters ever since. My body slimmed as I moved into teenhood and my hair went blonde-brown, but my limited stature ensured that I was an Oompah loompah for life.

As time has marched on, I’ve gained weight and have become more of an Oompah than ever. Last month I chose the wrong hair color to cover my gray, so my brassy short curls simply vibrate the Oompah Loompah song. The time is now, or never. Johnny, if you’re reading this, please, please call me. This time around, the movie needs some female Oompah loompahs in the mix. Just imagine it; I’d be your little Oompah wife and we’d share Oompah-love and have a little Oompah baby. I could handle the day-to-day chocolate making, so you could show those wacky golden ticket winners a good time without worrying about the biz. Oh, Johnny, call me, I’m telling you, I was born to be your lovin’ Oompah loompah lady. It’s my life’s destiny.