Shugged (R)

I started taking dancing lessons when I was ten and that's when I discovered I had the knack for singing as well as a talent for acting. I sang in the chorus all through school and I participated in several musical competitions and shows too. My first singing solo came when I sang 'What Child is This' for a Christmas pageant and the excitement I felt when I heard the applause was the biggest high I ever could have imagined. My mother is very supportive of my artistic interests and she willingly took me to all my rehearsals, recitals and performances growing up.

I also got involved in community theatre and I love being on stage. I was in the company of several productions with the Mt. Griffin Players group, including Oliver, Annie, A Christmas Carol, The King and I, Fiddler on the Roof, and Our Town. I also did several plays in high school, including Bye Bye Birdy (MaMa Mae), Grease (Frenchy), and Anything Goes (Evangelene Hardcourt).

I enrolled at Blue County Community College after graduating from Mt. Griffin High School and at eighteen I felt grown up, independent and mature. I hoped to continue with my community theater involvement, especially when I heard that the Mt. Griffin Players was doing The Wizard of Oz for their spring musical. I knew I had the voice to play Dorothy but I wasn't sure if I would be cast in the part because of my appearance.

I've always had a problem with my weight and that will probably haunt me when I audition for romantic leads but I'm the perfect age to play Dorothy and I knew that I could rock in the part. I'm 5'8 and right now my weight is around 165. I'm not fat but I'm definitely overweight - 'big boned' as my friend Jeff diplomatically phrases it. I haven't been under 150 since I was fifteen and I was up to almost 200 at one point but I've worked hard to keep the weight down as much as possible. The ideal weight would be around 130 and my target weigh is in the 150 range but it's been almost impossible to drop that last 15 pounds, especially since I don't dance much anymore.

Jeff says I have lovely eyes, a wonderful smile, and an alluring face. I wear my black hair long, down past my shoulders. My breasts are fairly large which might not be a good thing for Dorothy and while I'm not thin in the waist I don't have a bulge either. I'm just "full in the stomach" as Jeff describes it. My hips are noticeably large and I'm sure I've been called "fat ass" behind my back but it's not too bad if I wear loose fitting clothing like dresses and skirts.

I thought long and hard about auditioning for the part of Dorothy. I never played a lead before and I knew it would be a big deal if I got cast by Mt. Griffin's legendary resident director Harry Prescott, who has a rich eye for talent. My mother and Jeff both said I should give it a shot so that's why I ended up sitting in the house of the Mt. Griffin Playhouse with about fifty other actors and actresses ready to audition.

The Mt. Griffin Playhouse was originally built as a vaudeville house in the 1910s before being converted into a movie theatre in the 1930s and then back to a community theatre venue in the early 1960s. The auditorium only seats a few hundred people and the lobby isn't very big but the original woodwork and fixtures are impressive and the stage and wings are large enough to house fairly big productions. There's a cozy feel to the place and it reeks of history.

I always stress out at nerve-racking auditions and I had to remind myself to take deep breathes and relax while I waited. There were many familiar faces there. The Mt. Griffin Players is a fairly small with many actors making repeated appearances in the various productions. I recognized some from the previous shows I'd been in and others I had seen as an audience member.

I had been practicing the songs for weeks, as well as studying lines and thinking about scenes in case Harry the Director asked specific questions or asked for a certain motivation. There were girls from ages twelve to twenty trying out for Dorothy but I wasn't discouraged. Even if I wasn't cast in the part this was an opportunity to learn from the experience and I was ready to do whatever The Director asked of me.

The Wizard of Oz musical by Lloyd Webber was adapted from the 1939 film screenplay with several new songs added to the score but the story and music is basically the same as the movie Judy Garland starred in all those years ago. I saw Dorothy as a naive, loyal, sweet, and down to earth girl and I could definitely play that. She is also well behaved, a loyal friend, and a loving niece and I could swing that too. I practiced Sixteen Going on Seventeen from The Sound of Music as my audition choice but of course I practiced Somewhere Over the Rainbow a thousand times too.

When it was my turn to sing at the audition, Jane Brown the Musical Director asked me to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I stood in the middle of the stage and projected my voice as best I could while being original and unique in my interpretation! I thought I did pretty well!

Harry had me read the scene when Dorothy meets the Scarecrow for the first time and I did it three times with three different actors, including Shug Mason who was Rooster in Annie and Young Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, two of the Mt. Griffin productions I had previously been in. I doubted Shug remembered me since I was just a kid in the company so I was surprised when he greeted me with "Hey, Orphan!" – an obvious reference to Annie!

"Hey, you were terrific with the song," Shug added sincerely. "I'd pick you for Dorothy if I was casting the show."

"Thanks," I said, feeling excited and proud to be complimented by a talented guy like Shug Mason.

I felt pretty good about my audition but there was definitely other talent trying out for Dorothy with several actresses who looked stunning and appealing and I wondered if I just wasn't physically attractive enough to be cast as the lead. Jane Brown called me a few days later and I almost dropped the phone when she told me that Harry was having call backs and she asked me if I was interested in giving it a second shot.

Of course I was and I could hardly contain my excitement when I showed up at the theatre for Round Two. This time there were only two other girls trying out for Dorothy – a fourteen year old kid and a blond bombshell who looked to be around my age. There were about a dozen other actors and actresses back to try for the other parts and once again I was asked to belt out 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' and then I had to bounce a few scenes off some of the other finalists, including the Scarecrow, Auntie Em, The Wicked Witch, and The Wizard. I was excited to see that Shug Mason was back and I hoped he got cast in the show, especially if I did too. I already decided that I would ask to be in the company if I didn't get the part of Dorothy.

I noticed that the fourteen year old didn't get as much audition time and as the night wore on it seemed I was being used more than the blond bombshell so I was starting to get a real good feeling about my chances, as unbelievable as it all seemed.

Harry thanked us at the end of the night and we were told we would be called in a few days with the final casting picks. Shug Mason wished me luck and I said good luck to him too.

"Oh, luck has nothing to do with it," he winked good-naturedly and I had to smile at his positive attitude.

When my phone rang a few days later, I was afraid to answer but I knew I had too. I almost died when I heard Harry Prescott's deep low voice on the other end and it was all I could do not to burst out in tears when he offered me the role of Dorothy.

"I think you bring a real stage presence to the role and you definitely have the voice," Harry told me. "You're going to be great."

I couldn't thank Harry enough for believing in me and it was the best moment of my young artistic life when I got to tell my parents and Jeff that I was going to be Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz, my first lead and my big chance to prove that I could carry a show. Here's Harry's final casting picks:

Dorothy Gale – Isabella Evans
Scarecrow/Hunk – Shug Mason
Tin Man/Hickory – Dude Albertson
Cowardly Lion/Zeke – Wooly Lawrence
The Wicked Witch of the West/Miss Gulch – Wendy Westbrook
Glinda the Good Witch of the North – Bridget Swanson

The Wizard of Oz/Professor Marvel – Darryl Lake
Aunt Em/Munchkin Barrister – Helen Winters
Uncle Henry/Philippe/Head Guard – Steve Mathison

Most of the cast were Mt. Griffin Player veterans, experienced actors who had been on the stage for years. I was by far the youngest of the featured players and only Bridget Swanson as Glinda was in her twenties. Everybody else was in their thirties and older, seasoned accomplished performers and I definitely was going to have to work hard to hold my own on stage with them.

Shug Mason has been a leading man, supporting player, and company performer in countless Mt. Griffin productions. He can play comedy, he's strong in drama, he can sing and dance, and he's one of the most talented actors I've ever seen. Plus he's fun to be around.

Shug was hardly seen in Willie Wonka but he nearly stole the show with his rendition of the classic "Candy Man". He played the romantic lead in Cabaret with compassion, sympathy and vulnerability. He was hilarious in the leads for You Can't Take It With You and Little Shop of Horrors. He was featured as Billis in South Pacific and he was great in Twelfth Night. He was funny in Babes in Arms and he took on supporting roles in Guys and Dolls, Damn Yankees and Annie Get Your Gun among other productions over the years.

Dude Albertson has been in more than a dozen productions, including the Doctor in Equus, Curly in Oklahoma, Charlie Brown in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, and the male lead in Barefoot in the Park. He's good at romantic comedy but he can be serious in dramas too.

Wooly Lawrence is a teddy bear of a large man, naturally funny and perfect for the Cowardly Lion. I worked with him when he was Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol and while comedy is his strong suit (he provided the comedy relief in the intense One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), Wooly is also amazing in drama – the retarded man in Of Mice and Men, a red neck in To Kill a Mockingbird, and a heavy in Cabaret, for instance.

Wendy Westbrook is a long time Mt. Griffin Player character actress, plain looking with a hook nose, perfect for the Wicked Witch. Bridget Swanson is a natural beauty and while her range as an actress is limited she has the perfect look and voice for the beautiful good witch.

Daryl Lake is aging out of his previous romantic leads (like The Sound of Music and Bye Bye Birdy) and he's now going for more character parts (Warbucks in Annie, the baseball coach in Damn Yankees, and the Prosecutor in To Kill A Mockingbird).

Helen Winters is one of the longest serving members of the present generation of Mt. Griffin players. She played romantic leads in her younger days (Cabaret, Oklahoma, South Pacific) before transitioning to character parts (another production of Oklahoma, Annie Get Your Gun, another production of Cabaret, Equus, Arsenic and Old Lace, Harvey, and The Diary of Anne Frank among them).

Steve Matthison is the male version of Helen – he too has been around forever, famous for his leads in productions from twenty-five years ago like South Pacific, Guys and Dolls and Annie Get Your Gun before making the move to character parts and supporting roles as he got older. He's perfectly happy to perform as a company member of some musical or in some supporting role in intriguing dramas.

It really was an all star cast and I was intimidated being included on that cast list, especially as the top billed performer. But everybody treated me like I was experienced and dependable instead of a novice rookie and that made it a lot easier to feel like I fit in.

Shug Mason became my biggest cheerleader and supporter, mostly because we had so many scenes together and the Scarecrow is obviously Dorothy's favorite. Shug told me at our first rehearsal to learn the songs, get my lines down, figure out my character and then have fun!

That seemed to be the theme of the entire rehearsal run – have fun. We started calling Shug, Dude and Wooly the Three Stooges because they were always fooling around, cracking jokes, and having fun during the rehearsal grind. Daryl Lake is a pretty serious guy so those three took it upon themselves to goof with him at every rehearsal in an effort to get him to break character or burst out with a laugh.

So, as nervous I was about the weigh of being the lead and having to learn twelve songs, and being in almost every scene, I really did relax and have fun being around those guys and the entire cast and crew. I didn't feel like I was eighteen because nobody treated me like I was eighteen. I was an actress, a singer, and I was playing Dorothy so I was given the respect and honor the lead deserved.

Playing the role of Dorothy was the first time I really paid attention to the art of acting, the process of putting a play together, and the development of a character. In my high school roles, it was simply a matter of memorizing the lines and maybe developing a little bit of character, but here every night Harry and the other actors were discussing scenes, talking about characters, analyzing plot, and flushing out details about lines and motivations that absolutely amazed me.

Jane Brown was a wonderful voice coach and she worked with me nearly every night on the many songs in the show, which were:

"Nobody Understands Me" – Dorothy, Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, Hunk, Hickory, Zeke and Miss Gulch
"Over the Rainbow" – Dorothy
"The Wonders of the World" – Professor Marvel
"Come Out, Come Out ... Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead ... We Welcome You to Munchkinland" – Glinda, Dorothy and Munchkins
"Follow the Yellow Brick Road" – Glinda, Dorothy and Munchkins
"If I Only Had a Brain" – Scarecrow and Dorothy
"We're Off to See the Wizard" – Dorothy and Scarecrow
"If I Only Had a Heart" – Tin Man
"If I Only Had the Nerve" – Lion
"Optimistic Voices" – Dorothy, Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Ensemble
"The Merry Old Land of Oz" – Company
"Bring Me the Broomstick" – The Wizard
"We Went to See the Wizard" – Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion
"March of the Winkies" – Ensemble
"Red Shoes Blues" – Wicked Witch of the West and Winkies
"Over the Rainbow" (reprise) – Dorothy
"If We Only Had a Plan" – Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow
"Hail – Hail! The Witch is Dead" – Ensemble
"You Went to See the Wizard" – The Wizard
"Farewell to Oz" – The Wizard
"Already Home" – Glinda, Dorothy and Ensemble
Finale – Dorothy and Company

Even though rehearsals were going well, I was confident with my music, I had my lines down, and I was feeling good about my performance, I still worried about my appearance and my weight so I went on a starve diet in hopes of dropping a few pounds. Unfortunately, all that accomplished was me dropping to the floor of the stage one night during rehearsals when I passed out from lack of food and borderline starvation.
I was embarrassed and humiliated by my very public belly flop but after that Shug seemed to take me under his wing to keep my confidence up and to ensure me that I looked great just the way I was. He said I didn't need to concern myself with my weight.

"Eat healthy and you'll be fine," he advised. "Take care of yourself and whatever weight you're at is the weight you're meant to be."

Shug became an important mentor and friend during the rehearsal grind. I learned so much from him about the art of acting and I valued his friendship and concern not only to make me a better actress but to make sure I was learning what I needed to know as a person too.

Shug brought me a power bar or a power drink to every rehearsal after I passed out and he really did become my most trusted confidant, advisor, supporter and friend. It was strange because of our obvious age difference but it felt wonderful.

Sometimes some of the cast would go out for a drink after a rehearsal. I had school and studying but if Shug was going I always made it a point to tag along too, even though I felt eighteen when I couldn't drink and had to sit there in a bar drinking a ginger ale or Shirley Temple or non-alcoholic specialty drink. More often than not, I ended up sitting next to Shug and I loved hearing all the stories about previous shows and the art of acting. When Harry joined us, he held court and regaled about the theater.

The experience of playing Dorothy and working with the incredible cast was the most amazing time of my life. I loved every moment of it and as final crunch time approached when we needed to make sure wardrobe, sets, lights, make up, props and music all came together in one smooth transition, I felt like I was really part of something special. Harry had been an insightful and visionary director, Shug and the others had been so giving in their time and talent, and I had finally become an actress with some depth and skill. The camaraderie, sense of team, and the 'we're all in it together' spirit de corps was intoxicating.

I was incredibly nervous on opening night, so much so that I thought I was going to vomit and hyperventilate. Once again, it was Shug who was there for me.

"It's going to be okay," he said with a reassuring smile in the community dressing room a half hour before the curtain was to go up.

"Don't you ever get nervous?" I asked, my voice quivering.

"All the time," he laughed. "I'm way too hard on myself too. Half the time, I fear my performance is mediocre or I experience a dip in on stage energy and I panic but you want to know something?"

"What?" I asked, trying to catch my breath.

"The audience always appreciates the effort," he advised. "They'll forgive the costume malfunction or the slight hesitation in a song, or a blown line as long as you're there for them, so don't worry about it."

"That's all I can do!" I wailed.

"You know, part of what I've learned doing this over the years is that the audience is with you," Shug said calmly. "Friends and family and even people who don't know you will eat it up and ask you for more. It's a big part of why I do this and I'm always thankful to the audience for showing up."

He smiled and suddenly I felt so serine I thought I had passed out!

The first time I on walked on stage as Dorothy in front of a live audience, I felt like I died and went to heaven. It was the most invigorating experience of my life and all of us were clicking in character feeding off one another and I really did feel like I was Dorothy out there.

Our reviewer praised the designs, the special effects, and the director's clarity with pace and he called me "competently inspired as a performer", saluting my vulnerability as Dorothy which gave a winning impression of innocence and charm accompanied by my soaring voice that moved the audience.

The rest of the cast was given laud praise, especially Shug, Dude and Wooly, with a special mention to Wendy Westbrook for her "hilariously over the top" performance as the wicked witch.
We gave six performances over two weekends and I got better with each one. By the time closing night came, I felt like I had just hit my groove and I was sorry to see the show end. I kind of made a fool of myself at the cast party at Harry's house following final strike Sunday afternoon when I got all blubbery and teary eyed saying goodbye to people.

Shug laughed and gave me a hug and told me that everything was going to be okay but never before had I experienced the sense of let down and loss that I did in the days that followed the end of Oz. I missed my character, I missed my cast members, and I missed the thrill of the performance.
Just as The Scarecrow was Dorothy's favorite, I realized that Shug was my favorite. I developed friendships with everybody in the cast and I got along famously well with everybody involved in the production, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that Shug was very special to me. It was weird having a male friend who was in his late thirties but I didn't see him as an older man. I saw him as a fellow actor, a spirited performer, and especially as a good friend. He was intelligent, knowledgeable, giving, good looking and fun to be around. I valued and appreciated everything he taught me and all the advice he gave, not just on acting but on how to live my life too.

I experienced such a profound crash when the show was over that for a few days I thought there was something wrong with me. I knew there was always a let down involved in the aftermath of every show that closes, but for some reason the end of The Wizard of Oz hit me especially hard. It was as if I had just experienced an unexpected break up with a boyfriend or something but this was much more intense, powerful and emotional than anything I had known before.

Part of me knew that I may not ever have the lead in a play again. I wasn't going to be cast as the beautiful romantic love interest. I was always going to be the supporting player, the comic relief, or the lead character's best friend, but Shug told me that there was no such thing as small parts, only small actors and that really helped me get over myself.

I missed everybody but I especially missed Shug and I found myself thinking about him all the time. I figured I'd bump into him again if I tried out for another show or saw something he was in but I wasn't sure if I could wait that long. There was an urge and a need to see him now, to talk to him, to be with him and that reality scared the hell out of me.

Two weeks went but my yearning to see Shug hadn't lessened at all. It was Friday night and I dressed up to go out with some of my girlfriends but as I drove to Laura's house I found myself taking a detour and heading for Shug's apartment a few miles away. I had been there a few times to work on music and lines with Shug and some of the others so I knew where he lived.

I had learned a lot about Shug during the course of the show, both in my conversations with him and from some of the other cast members. He wasn't from the area originally but he attended Green College and met a co-ed there who he married and they settled down here. Shug works for the postal service and his wife was in insurance but she was stricken ill with Leukemia and died at thirty. Helen Winters told me that nobody saw Shug for nearly two years after his wife died. He stopped doing theatre and he became a recluse until Harry Prescott literally dragged him out of hiding and forced him to do The Odd Couple, Harry playing Oscar and Shug playing Felix.

"That seemed to revive him," Helen said. "But he's always been sad and he never seems to date."

I had no idea what I was doing when I parked my car in front of Shug's apartment building. I didn't know what I would say or do if he opened the door when I knocked on his door. I wasn't even sure if he'd be home on a Friday night but I didn't care. I needed to satisfy my curiosity and temptation by finding out what might happen if he did open the door.

I was nervous as hell as I stood in front of Shug's apartment door. I'm not sure how long I stood there before I lifted my hand up to knock below the number. I could hear soft music on the other side and it occurred to me that maybe he wasn't alone but that didn't stop me from rapping on the door anyway. I was wearing a tight black dress that hugged my hips and showed my lack of a shapely waist but I didn't care. The top was cut low to accent my breasts and I had spent plenty of time working on my hair and make up. I wondered if Shug would notice.

The door opened and Shug was genuinely surprised to see me. He was wearing sweat pants and an old South Pacific tee-shirt. He had a bowl of ice cream in his hand.

"Izzy!" He said with wide eyes. "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to see you," I answered truthfully.

"Dressed like that?" He asked, giving my sexy dress the eye.

"I'm supposed to be going out with my girlfriends," I explained.

"Oh?" He asked, nodding his head. "But you're not?"

"Can I come in?" I asked.

He gave me a long look. "Are you sure that's something you really want to do?"

"Yes," I answered quickly. "I'm sure."

"That makes me feel a little uneasy," Shug admitted.

"I'm eighteen, Shug," I reminded him. "I know what I'm doing."

He considered my remark for a moment before finally stepping back and allowing me in. I loved his apartment. It was open and wide and airy and full of theatre mementos and posters and scripts and cast photos and old props and scenery pieces.

"Why are you feeling uneasy?" I asked once Shug closed the door behind me.

"Look at you, Izzy," he replied.

"Do I make you nervous?" I teased.

He shook his head as he gave me an intense gaze. "No, not nervous," he said.

"Excited?"

He smirked and blushed at the same time. "You do know how old I am, don't you?" He wanted to know.

"Thirty-seven?" I guessed.

"Thirty-nine, Dorothy," he replied with a sigh.

He really didn't look it. His beard that he had started growing back at the end of the show was still fully colored with his natural brown shade and there was no hint of gray in his sideburns. His face was wrinkle free and he was in fine shape.

"Is it okay if I sit down?" I asked, unconcerned about his age.

"As you wish," he replied.

"Oh, I love that movie!" I giggled, making The Princess Bride connection.

He watched as I sat on the couch in the open living room where I confidently kicked off my heels.

"Would you like a coke or something?" Shug offered.

"Don't you have any wine?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.

"I don't think you need to be getting drunk tonight, Izzy," Shug replied with a frown.

"Just one glass?" I asked hopefully.

"I don't think so," he replied.

"Okay, a Ginger Ale then," I gave in.

"So," he guessed, giving me the eye before he walked to the kitchen area in the corner of the open room. "Post-show blues got you down, huh?"

"You too?" I asked with surprise.
"Yeah, there's always a grieving period until the next show comes along," Shug said. "The last performance of any run is the most difficult performance for me."

"Me too," I sighed.

"There's always that nagging voice telling me it's over," Shug said. "You work hard for months and you bust your ass out there hoping to deliver the goods for the audience and suddenly it's over. Time to say goodbye to your character, to your cast mates and the crew, to the stage and the lights and the audience that laughed and cried, sang and danced and loved along with you. I might see some of the people again but it will never be the same because every production is different. Never will the same magic of that particular production in that set of circumstances with those particular people playing those specific characters at that moment in time ever be reproduced in an identical way again."

He returned to the couch with two glasses of wine which made me smile as he handed me one.

"So you say goodbye and hold the memories tight hoping the thoughts and moments will sustain you until next time," Shug told me.

"What if there is no next time?" I worried.

"Oh, there's always a next time," Shug smiled as he sat on the couch next to me. "Once this is in your blood you can never give it up."

I took a small sip from the wine glass. "Thanks," I said with appreciation.

"One final toast and salute to the show won't kill us," Shug decided.

I hadn't dated all that much. I had an active social life thanks to my dancing, singing and community theatre opportunities and I made plenty of friends through all three venues. Jeff was a sweetheart but he was hopelessly gay and there was no future there. I had the occasional date but nothing serious, partly because I had yet to find a guy that truly attracted me, interested me, or even turned me on all that much.

All that changed when I got to know Shug during the show, of course. His age aside, he's the kindest, sweetest, most understanding person I've met. It wasn't even sexual (at first) – I just liked being around him, listening to him, and being a part of his life. He made me feel special from the first night of auditions when he said "Hi Orphan!" and it's the first time I've felt attracted to someone on a level I've never felt before.

I'm not so naïve to think that Shug and I could possibly have a future together. I recognize our age difference alone is a deal stopper. I imagine he has a lot of baggage left over from his wife's death too and I'm not old enough or mature enough to handle that stuff yet.

But I know that I've learned so much from Shug about acting and theatre and life itself and that he's the kind of guy – of man – that I want teaching me about sex too. I'm an eighteen year old woman going to college. My childhood dancing lessons and high school silliness is over and if I'm going to be an attractive, sensual, appealing woman (no matter what my weight is) I need to experience sex from a mature, knowledgeable, knowing, giving, gentle and loving man and I knew that guy was Shug.

"You really shouldn't be here," Shug told me, almost as if he was reading those very thoughts of mine.

I purposely leaned over so my cleavage could be seen as I placed the wine glass on the coffee table. "Why not?" I asked innocently.

"You know why," Shug replied honestly.

"I wanted to thank you for everything you did for me during the show's run," I assured him with a sweet smile on my face. "You've changed my life."

"Izzy," he sighed.

"No, really," I said with sincerity. "You were always so supportive and full of compliments. It really helped my confidence."

"You're one of the most gifted young actresses I've ever had the pleasure to act with," Shug told me. "I enjoyed working with you and watching you grow each and every night."

This is exactly where I wanted to be. I glanced around the apartment, the smell of him everywhere as I glanced at the posters and photos and other collectables. I didn't see a photo of his wife anywhere and that was probably a good thing considering what my intentions were on this night. I felt surprisingly peaceful and relaxed as I sat on his couch.

I turned my gaze back to Shug. "Thanks for saying that," I said with a smile. "I'm not sure if I could have given the same performance if you hadn't been in the show."

"Oh, I'm sure you would have been just as great with anybody else playing The Scarecrow," he replied. "Dorothy came along at just the right time for you."

"And in just the right place with the right people too," I was quick to point out. "You're the one who made me do so well," I said. "You as Shug and you as The Scarecrow."

"I think Harry Prescott had a little to do with that but mostly it all came from you, Izzy."

"You're not going to let me credit you for anything, are you?" I groaned.

He shrugged.

I stood and walked across the room to take a look at a photo maze that was on the far wall. It was several shots of various productions all melded together in one huge kaleidoscope. It was fifteen years worth of Shug as an actor.

"This is neat!" I said.

Shug got off the couch and followed me across the room to take a look at the merged photos.

"Helen Winters made that for me a few years ago," he said, looking at it from over my shoulder as he stood behind me.

"She's a nice lady," I said.

I could feel Shug's breath on the back of my neck and I knew he was standing close to me. I glanced over my shoulder and smiled. He looked serenely mellow and I felt a sudden rush jolt my body. I stepped back so my (large) rear bumped into his middle and I was pleasantly surprised when Shug put one of his hands on my waist, so I subtly rubbed myself against him to see how he might react.

My intent was more than obvious and when I glanced back over my shoulder again I could see that there was a slight blush on Shug's face but his hand was now on my hip and I moaned when he moved forward a step, putting his other hand on my other hip and pulling me back toward him so my buns were tight against his crotch. Nobody had ever done something like that to be before and I felt my breath catch in my throat.

I slowly turned to face Shug. He wasn't that much taller than me and suddenly his face was only inches from mine and that's when I leaned in and kissed him before he had a chance to kiss me. I wanted him to know that I was perfectly okay with all of this and that he wasn't taking advantage of me.

Shug pulled away and he looked into my eyes with uncertainly combined with desire. "You really shouldn't have come here tonight," he whispered.

I kissed him again and he softly touched the side of my face with his fingertips, causing me to quiver as we stood. Our tongues met within the kiss and Shug lifted both hands to my face to cradle it in his hands while I let out a deep breath when the kiss ended.

"You really shouldn't have come here tonight," he said again.

"Well, I'm here anyway," I told him.

He stared at me, thoughtfully watching my face which I knew was flush with excited anticipation. I looked into his eyes to try to transmit my intent and my approval. Shug sighed.

"Maybe you should go," he said.

"I don't want to go," I whispered. "I want this to happen. I want you to be my teacher once again. I want you to show me. I want to be shugged by you!"

Shug burst out with laughter at that one. "Oh, you do, do you?" he teased.

"Yes," I said knowingly. "Please show me what it's like."

Shug nodded with understanding while brushing his fingertips across my lips. Then he glanced down toward my cleavage and he caught me by surprise when he cupped my breast in his hand and squeezed. I couldn't help but blush and then he leaned in and brought the tip of his tongue up my neck to my ear. His hand found my nipple as he pulled my dress down just enough for one of my breasts to slip out.

"Izzy…" He whispered.

I had never felt so aroused or stimulated before. I gazed at him with amazement before looking down to see his hand on my exposed breast that had popped out of the dress. I wasn't embarrassed in the slightest as I brought my lips to his and passionately kissed him.

"As much as I want this," he said, breaking the kiss, dropping his hand from my breast and stepping back, looking into my eyes, "We shouldn't."

"Yes, we shug!" I teased.

"No, we shouldn't."

"Why not?" I asked desperately, self-consciously stuffing my boob back into the dress.

"I don't want you to be hurt because of me."

"I know what I'm doing, Shug," I told him. "I know exactly what I want."

"And what about tomorrow?" He wanted to know.

"It will come when it gets here," I replied. "And then tonight will be over."

"Are you sure?" He asked.

"I know when the final curtain comes," I told him.

He thought for a moment but before he could say anything I wrapped my arms around his waist and pressed against him.

"I feel safe with you," I said.

Shug put his hand on my stomach and kissed me, caressing my tongue with his. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sensation as we worked our tongues and I felt my knees growing weak.

"Are we going to stand all night?" I wanted to know, breaking our kiss.

Shug pulled back and studied my face. I nodded to let him know it was okay so he took my hand and led me into his bedroom which also had plenty of theatre images, photographs, posters and remembrances. The room was light and open like the rest of his apartment, modestly furnished with a couple of matching nightstands on either side of a large neatly made bed, a long dresser, and a book case overstuffed with books.

Shug let go of my hand and he sat on the foot of the bed, glancing up at me with a nervous sigh. I looked into his face and smiled.

"You worry too much," I said, surprised at how calm, willing, ready and wanting I was with the situation. It was as if Dorothy gave me all the confidence I needed.

He looked at me as I stood before him. "And you should worry more."

I swallowed before I lifted my hands up to the top of the dress and pulled it down, revealing my braless breasts as the dress fell all the way to the floor, leaving me in nothing but my black panties. I looked at Shrug who was staring at my chest before he glanced up to my eyes.

"You're very pretty," he said.

"I'm very fat," I said, feeling the urge to burst into tears.

"No you're not," he said gently.

I turned my back to him so he could see my fat ass in the panties which I slowly hiked down my hips and let them fall to the floor. I stepped out of them but I kept my back to Shug, glancing over my shoulders to see if he had been repulsed by my bare rump but he looked very happy and he smiled when he saw me looking at him.

"You're very pretty," he said again.

"I've got a fat ass," I sighed, looking away with self-loathing.

"No you don't," he said.

I suddenly felt ashamed but then I felt something against my buns and when I glanced back again Shug was on his knees behind me giving my rear a smooch.

"Jesus," I said with surprise. "Nobody's even seen my ass before let alone kiss it!"

He gave me a love pat on the fanny while kissing it again, this time just above the crack.

"I guess I'm what the call a full figured girl," I sighed sadly, glancing down at my weighty boobs that sagged against the top of my stomach while thinking about some of my petite dancing friends with their small breasts.

Shug wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me closer to him, rubbing the top of his head against my buns which made me giggle.

"That tickles," I said, no longer feeling ashamed to be naked in front of him because I really did feel safe and comfortable with him.

I turned around so my bush was now lined up with his sight line and I realized that I hadn't shaved down there in a while so it was pretty hairy. I jumped when he kissed me there too before he stood and kissed me on the mouth hungrily and with passion and I smiled knowing I really had turned him on with my nakedness.

Shrug put his hand into my hair, teasing it with his fingers. I put my hands on the bottom of his South Pacific tee-shirt and pulled it off over his head, briefly interrupting our kissing but Shrug went right back to it as soon as the shirt cleared his head. I finally broke the kiss and stepped back to sneak a peek at his exposed chest and his flat stomach, envying his thinness while appreciating his muscles.

Shug turned me and then walked me back until my legs hit the edge of the bed and I fell flat on the bed, slightly embarrassed when I felt the mattress press down from my weight. Shug lay on top of me and smiled and I opened my legs as an invitation.

"Izzy…" He whispered before kissing me again

I ran my fingers through his hair while he slowly moved his kisses away from my mouth, down my chin to my neck with licks and kisses and my breath grew short from desire and want. He stroked my stomach with gentle touches before moving his hand up to my ample breasts, met by his mouth that had made its way down my neck to my nipple and that made me squirm.

Shug licked and tasted my breasts, kissing and sucking my nipples and I pulled at his hair while moaning in song, my nipples hard. His mouth continued to explore my breasts causing me to cry in pleasure. He cupped one of them and rubbed while sucking the other. I lifted my back to give him a better angle while my hands found their way to his back as he sent me into a near spaz attack with his tongue as I moaned and twisted beneath him.

Shug licked his way down from my breasts to my stomach and then slowly down further, causing me to whimper and quiver knowing where he was going. I moved up on the bed so my head was on the pillow and I opened my legs further as he slowly planted his face between my legs, forcing me to scream loudly when his tongue went into me.

"I've never done this before," I revealed, panting with excitement mixed with just a touch of uncertainty.

"I know," he whispered. "You wanted me to show you."

I lifted my head up and met his eyes as he looked up from between my legs. "I'm glad you did," I told him.

Shug worked his magic down there and never before had I felt so wet, juiced and eroticized. I moaned and cried and screamed and begged and whimpered and groaned as he made love to me with his mouth and tongue.

"I never knew," I confessed, trying not to sob. "I just didn't."

That's when he put one of his fingers into me and I began to thrash around as he slid his finger in and out with the most unbelievable pleasure I'd ever felt and he kept it up until I bellowed out with a orgasm that rocketed through me with such force and completeness that I almost lost consciousness .

"Oh, God… Oh, God! Oh…God!" I wailed as my ass lifted off the mattress from the forceful release of my captivity and I buckled against his finger before crashing back down on the mattress with exhaustion. "You shugged me! You shugged me!" I screamed happily.

I was soaked from sweat and my love juices and Shug's salvia but he kept kissing me softly and tenderly as he made his way back up my body, over my stomach, through my breasts, onto my neck, and finally back onto my mouth.

"I just didn't know," I told him after he gave me a kiss. "I didn't know it could be like that."

I pulled him close and I rubbed my large breasts against his chest. He kissed me again and then he slipped off of me, standing and pulling down his sweats in one motion. He wasn't wearing any underwear and I wasn't expecting to see his member so suddenly.

"Oh," I said, never having seen one so up close before.

He had an erection of course and I couldn't stop looking at it. He noticed and he smiled as he knelt on the bed and I lifted my hand up to feel it and he let out a moan as I pulled on it. He lay down on his back and I sat up, rubbing the tip of his head with my hand. He groaned as I began to rub harder, moving my hand up and down his shaft and then I leaned over and put my mouth on it.

"Izzy," he gasped.

"I want to," I mumbled as I sucked him off.

He reached his hand out and rubbed my breast and played with my nipple while his other one made its way between my legs and he played with my slit while I continued to pleasure him, only I was the one who was hit with another sensation ringing through my body and then Shug was throbbing too and I took his penis out of my mouth just as he shot out a stream of white stuff all over my breasts and stomach, hot and sticky.

"Holy cow!" I exclaimed as I watched the last of his juices pop out. "That was wild!"

I rubbed his cum over my stomach before I fell back on the bed.

"You're not going to put it in me, are you?" I realized.

"You're eighteen, Izzy," he reminded me. "This will have to be enough of a lesson."

"It's a great lesson," I smiled as I rolled on top of him and rubbed my body against his cum.

"No regrets?" He asked.

"I know I shugged have done this!" I giggled.

I want you to know," he said softly as he lifted his head up and kissed me. "You're wonderful."

I kissed him back. "Thank you," I said happily. "I finally feel like a woman."

"And you still have your womanhood intact, saved for the guy who really deserves it."

"I'd give it to you if you wanted it," I let him know.

He sighed sadly. "I know," he told me. "Thank you, but trust me this is a win-win for both of us."

"I guess," I admitted, thankful for the experience even if I didn't get completely shugged. "We can still finish the wine," I said, raising my eyebrows.

"In the bathtub," he agreed. "We should clean up."

"You want to know something, Shug?" I asked as I climbed off of him and started for the living room, still naked.

"What?" He asked, wrapping himself in a sheet as he followed me.

"For the first time in my life, I don't feel fat," I confessed.

"That's because you're not fat," he told me.

I turned and fell into him, hugging him in my new found naked freedom. "Oh, Shug," I cried. "You make me feel so happy."

"Welcome to Oz, Dorothy," he smiled.

"The place where shugs come true," I giggled.