Thursday, July 1, 2010

The End

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.


Keep hoping, it'll happen sooner or later.

Hopefully, later.

I should have died at Little Company of Mary Hospital in 1972.  They told my mom that I wasn't going to make it.

I decided to stick around.

They had us set up in a building, with all the lights turned off, and a soundtrack of an earthquake (with repeated aftershocks)  playing on high-quality speakers.  Angela took this picture during one of the rare moments during the earthquake drill when I wasn't screaming at the top of my lungs, or sobbing with self-pity.  I tried to make it as realistic as possible, by panicking when the rescue workers would leave me, in order to evacuate the more gravely injured victims.  There were 7 of us, all made up by a Hollywood movie make-up artist.  They asked us to wear clothes that we don't care about i.e. are ready to throw out.  The green shirt was one of my shirts with only a couple of little holes in it, that the wife wouldn't let me wear outside the house, anymore.  The Hollywood make-up lady whipped out a big pair of scissors, and went to town.  Then she grabbed a bottle of fake blood, and "Splat!" she squirted me all over.  The spike through my thigh was attached with a roll of medical tape, then decorated with more fake blood.

Helpful hint:  that fake blood doesn't wash off as easily as the artist will tell you.  I rode home on the Metrolink train with people staring at my leg.  Yes, I changed clothes.

We all hammed it up, acting like hysterical, emotionally distraught people.  Just like the people I x-ray on the weekends.  Take a good look at the victim in the back.  Ten bucks says that 10 years from now, he will be a famous stand-up comic, or movie star.  Mark my words.

The interesting thing about these drills is this: last year, I was one of the guys in a helmet and vest, avoiding fallen objects, finding injured people in a dark building, assessing & tagging them, then going back in to carry them out.  Despite the fact that I knew it was an exercise, despite the fact that I knew that it was all fake blood, props, and make-up, despite the fact that I have dealt with an untold number of real-life shooting, stabbing, and motor vehicle accident victims since the early 1980s in Emergency Rooms, and despite having served in the military,  I got really stressed out while we carried out the search and rescue final exam.

That really surprised me.

Somehow, the process of acting and pretending made it real.

I discussed this with a friend who is a fellow writer. His answer surprised me, but made sense:  some times, when a writer gets stuck while writing a scene or chapter, what they do is stand up, and act out the scene with somebody, and what they need to write for the rest of that scene magically comes into their head.

The human brain never ceases to amaze me.

No comments: