Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lights, Camera, and John

We live in a city that embraces the movie people and their coffers. On any given day you can be traveling your favorite route and you will suddenly be faced with yellow cones and detour signs. The camera crews bring their semis, large trailers, miles of black cable, and invade the area so often that most of us just operate around it. John is an exception.

When he first came to the West Coast he had to spend a week in the VA Hospital to have steroid injections to stem the tide of damage that MS was causing to his eyes. There was no need for him to have to stay in bed so he often roamed the facility. It was a good way to forestall boredom and get some exercise at the same time.

In fact he was given so much freedom that one afternoon when he was moaning and groaning about the lack of fat and calories in the food I suggested that we could drive to the closest fast food vendor and be back in a matter of minutes. He thought I had verged on genius and had grabbed his wallet and cane and was out the door before I could get my wheelchair turned around. The strangest thing about the ‘hamburger caper’ was that not one person questioned why a man dressed in hospital pajamas was wandering around the visitor’s parking lot looking for a red car. And when he came back smelling like a hamburger and french fries no one questioned that either. What they did question was where he got the chocolate shake. I had to get out of there fast or I would have been going on ’shake capers’ all day, and I was certain there were men in that room that weren’t allowed to drink sugar.

John would often wake up early and go downstairs and get a cup of coffee from the vending machine. He would then take his coffee and newspaper and go sit outside on one of the benches and enjoy the fresh air. One morning, as he was getting off of the elevator, he noticed black cables snaking everywhere. John being John he figured it was just a mild inconvenience and started stepping over and around the cables to get to his coffee. All of a sudden a voice yelled, “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I’m going to get some coffee. What the hell are YOU doing here?” he answered as he continued his cable stepping.

“Get the hell out of here!”

“No, you get the hell out of here.” No one messes with John when he is on a quest for coffee and full of legal steroids.

“You don’t belong here!”

“Yes I do. I’m a patient. YOU don’t belong here!”

“I said get the hell out of here, and I mean it!” But by this time John had navigated enough cables to be in front of the coffee machine. He had achieved his goal. As he slowly walked outside he could hear the man yelling about the son-of-a-@#$!^ that had gotten off the elevator. But John had his coffee and paper. He was satisfied.

Later that day he was told that he had walked onto a set that had been created for a scene for the movie Gigli. He was not impressed. He is not a big fan of Ben Affleck or Jennifer Lopez, besides he was a patient and they weren’t.

“Hey John, Gigli is on cable tonight. Want to watch it and see if your elevator lobby is in the movie.”

“Hell no,” was the answer I got, but we did. It was an awful movie and on top of that there wasn’t one scene that took place at the VA Hospital. John’s first dealing with the movie types and the scene had been left on the cutting room floor. But they did have a scene in a fast food Mexican restaurant that isn’t too far from the hospital. John won’t eat there because he once tried to use their men’s room and it was in such a disreputable condition that he was constipated for a week. In fact his only comment about the movie was, “It smelled almost as bad as that bathroom.”

So on to today. We had stopped at a small strip mall. One of those places where you jump out, run in, grab what you want, and get out quick; exactly the kind of shopping that John prefers. Except John can’t ’jump’ out any more. The MS has slowed him down a tad. His style is more the ‘’slowly roll out’ type. And as he was doing that I heard a man’s voice yell, “What the hell are you doing there?”

John continued on his way not paying much attention to the yelling aimed at him, but I was curious. I turned around to see where the noise was coming from and there in the parking lot was a ‘Camera Crew’. Once again a voice bellowed, “What the hell are you doing there?” But then a quieter, saner voice said, “Aw s*&t he’s a gimp. Give him some time to move out.” I couldn’t help it, I really couldn’t. I started to laugh. I laughed so hard and so long that the young men started laughing too. They obviously were a group of young film students and John had walked into their carefully developed scene. They threw their arms in the air, turned circles, and laughed almost as hard as I was. It was a fun moment, but I wonder about those young men and their film. John walked through a set and look what happened to Gigli. It was a dismal failure. I’d love to know what grade they got on their movie. Did John hex them too?

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