Colleen Powers is a writer and editor living in Minneapolis.

Stick the Landing

My family has a home video of six-year-old me performing a puppet show about The Wizard of Oz — practicing for a presentation at school — that has become the stuff of comedy legend to my younger sister and me. The clip is full of quotable (to us) bits: my sister heckling me; my dad getting impatient and scolding me; my description of Glenda the Good Witch, delivered directly and with a world-weary air to my paper bag Dorothy puppet: “She’s bee-yooo-tiful. [long pause] She rides around in a bubble.”

One moment that has become funnier to me over time is the conclusion to my presentation, in which I attempt to give my audience a call to action and go off the rails: “If you’ve seen the movie, you should read the book, and if you’ve read the book, you should see the movie, and if you’ve done both … you should do ‘em again …” I laugh at my younger self, but I realized recently that I’ve gotten no better whatsoever at sticking my landing on send-offs. Every party and casual gathering it’s the same rambling speech, as if I’m poorly summarizing my entire friendship with the host while shrugging on my coat: “Thank you so much for having us, and it was good of you to invite us, and so great to see you, and this was really fun, and we’ll have to do this again sometime, and it was nice catching up.” I’m sure that for my friends it’s the conversational version of watching someone melt into the floor, but with less shrieking and more stammering. By the end it’s like, “Yikes, get this pile of rags out of here.”

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The Call