Saturday, April 15, 2017

I can't even

Warning: gross story ahead.

London tried out for and got a role as "extra with lines" in a student film. A university in town with a film school has student films that need actors and London saw a notice for one looking for child actors and she tried out.

I was busy with pertussis and remember vaguely telling her that sounded cool but not putting much weight into the idea that she might get a part. She got a part, and we went down to the filming location last weekend for blocking and costumes and whatnot. It was being filmed in a field in the country near a house belonging to one of the students (or rather, his parents). Found out while I was there (I'm sure there was an email but: pertussis) that the filming was happening over Easter weekend in the same location. Fair enough.

So on Friday we drove down and planted ourselves in a field somewhat near yelling distance from the set.

Wait let me back up.

Last weekend, I met a couple of the other parents while I froze in the field (why I was unaware of the location and it being outside, I'm not sure. Oh yeah, pertussis). Including a family from outstate Missouri whose kid was one of the leads.

Within ten minutes of sitting down in my camp chair, I knew the birth years of both parents, how long they had decided to wait to have kids, why they only had one, who had a drinking problem, where everyone grew up, and so forth. Kind of awkward but the sort of awkward I can handle. Then the dad insulted London in a vague way, telling her that she had to start somewhere, once she said what her role was. I could see that London was going to have no more of that nonsense. Lucky for her, the actors were busy from there on out and I was trapped with the family from hell.

I was grading papers; he told me what he thought about teachers. About math. About how things in schools are nowadays and how they used to be better. This is MY LEAST FAVORITE DISCUSSION ABOUT MY PROFESSION. I can talk about math, about why I teach, who I teach, about teachers other people loved, about school violence, about any and all sorts of things. But don't talk about how calculators make people dumb. Or tell jokes about how hard math was back in the day. Or how the nuns used to beat you and that was somehow better. Because it isn't better.

I had some knitting....he talked about knitting. He talked about blood thinners. He talked about...everything. He was the expert.

So coming back this weekend, I was determined that someone else was going to be the sacrificial lamb. I brought a friend. We sat waaaaaay far away and talked in whispers to each other. We did not engage. There were other people for him to talk to, and frankly, there were so many people and they were so busy with the filming that he didn't have much to say.

A little set up: we were in a field. The house attached to the field was down a one lane gravel road about a quarter mile. That's where we parked and we were shuttled to the location, although once I realized it was a pleasant little walk, I declined the shuttle service. Beautiful weather under the stars. Might as well walk. The house was also the location of the bathroom. Also not a big deal, I'm a girl scout, I understand walking a little hike to the facilities.

But this family didn't like the set up. Neither adult was in good shape and a long walk to the bathroom was not wanted. The shuttle service (which was a minivan) was fine until filming began at dark--they didn't want the headlights messing with the lighting. So once it was dark, we were stuck with a walk back to the house. Well neither of them wanted that and they both opted to find a spot in the woods. I get this--I've been on hikes where this was the only option.

Ok so back to this week. Sitting apart from them and the other families, talking with my friend Maggie, she looks over at one point and asks in a whisper, "what is going on over there?"

My eyes take a moment to focus on the dim light. On the edge of the trees there's some movement and I finally can see that someone is holding up a blanket. I realize its the dad from that family, and obviously he's shielding his wife from view while she does her business.

After they make their way back to the camp chairs where they are sitting, we focus in again. There's a bucket where they had been.

"Oh no," I whisper. "He held up a blanket while she pissed in a bucket."

We have to investigate. Of course we do. We make a pretense of walking to the house so that we can walk past the bucket. And it has a lid. It has a toilet seat and lid. I have so many questions I cannot answer.

We get back to our chairs and wait to see what happens next. The whole thing is so weird. Did they bring the bucket? Surely the students didn't provide the bucket. Are they going to take it with them? Where did they purchase the seat for a five gallon bucket (this question I answered with a google search)?

Time passes. They both appear to be asleep in their chairs. It's like 10:30 at night in a breezy country field. Other parents are staring at their phones. Everyone is silent.

And suddenly the man topples out of his chair. Maggie runs over, another mom holds up her iPad as a flashlight. I get up to go help and when I get there, he's just starting to get up off the ground.

And he's buckling his belt.

Then his wife, who hadn't gotten out of her chair until we all got over there, goes over with him to the bucket and that whole thing happens again.

We sit down and I turn to Maggie. "His belt was undone?"

She nods. "And his pants. And they were pulled partially down. He was trying to pull them up when I got over there."

We sit and consider this a moment. And another moment while we watch them and their bucket ordeal at the edge of the woods.

We hash this out once we are safely in my car on our way back to the city. And we come to the conclusion, in her words, that "he is a filthy old man, that's why" and just sit in that fact for a while.

I drop her off at home, take London home and get her to bed and I'm still thinking about the whole thing.

And yes, they took the bucket with them when they left.

And yes, they brought it back tonight.