Tuesday, February 19, 2008
When Life Hands You Lemons
Last night, I was all choked up.
The shoot is in a small Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, we use the place on Sundays and Mondays when it's closed, usually going 12-16 hour days. By Monday evening, we are tired, punchy, grumpy, amusing, dragging...the last hours are long.
I tend to keep a wedge of lemon in the kitchen to suck on... I like lemon, it keeps my mouth fresh and it wakes me up. We were working on our last scene, there was a short break while changing out the film in the camera, and D, the make-up artist was chatting with the producer and my director, J... everyone was in the main room. I stepped into the kitchen, and peeled my large, well drained lemon section off of the rind and popped it into my mouth. I started to chew when I thought I heard my name called to come back on set...so, I swallowed.
Standing there, I struggled to get the wedge of lemon down my throat, where it, well, wedged. I tried to take in air... with the realisation I couldn't came my first thought I was in trouble. No sounds could be made--something I'd heard about choking on food, but, a symptom that made no sense. Silently, I calmly made my way the few steps to the doorway... after all, I had two actors who were ex-firefighters.... they could do the Heimlich on me. I'd be okay.
Everyone faced the other way...D, had tripped and fallen over a camera case.
I stood there, pointing at my throat, frantic now...working still to try and move it. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears... spots were forming... everything moved very slowly. Saliva filled my mouth, I was acutely aware of this... turning away from the room, I struggled to reach the sink; I didn't want to embarrass myself by drooling in front of the cast and crew.
The whole time, I kept thinking and praying to God, "Please. Please." I couldn't form other words, just the one... "Please."
When I was 8, I was at a public pool with my cousin, MV, and a friend of hers. We were jumping off the edge of the pool into the deep end, traveling down to the bottom and pushing off to soar back to the top, grasping the rough stone edge again in safety. None of us could swim.
As I jumped high in the air, the friend pushed me outwards, beyond the safe zone. I flailed my arms, which propelled me further... landing me in the middle of the pool. My mother was absent, no one saw, and MV and the friend disappeared.
I went under, bobbing back to the top, splashing and trying to gain someone's eye. I remember still the feeling of this wasn't happening, seeing it actually from a third person view. I swallowed water, went under, came up, and went under again.
My struggles had moved me a bit... as I sank to the bottom, looking up through the blue, lungs filling, my arm floated over and brushed against the foot of a teenage girl who, herself, was hanging off the stone edge of the pool, giggling with her friends.
Thinking it was some boy, she kicked backward, encountering my limp body instead of a teen boy, she screamed, pulling the lifeguard into action.
He pulled me out, flipped me over (they say) and pumped my lungs as they used to do... I threw up water (and hot dogs) and finally my mother and aunt came over, I was dutifully spanked, and that was that.
I didn't appreciate my second chance. I was 8, for crying out loud.
There I stood, again, in some third person viewing... thinking, "Please."
I had waved, pointing at my throat, before I turned... worried about drooling. Extra, who is also helping with set dressing, thought I was signaling him that he could go smoke. He started to saunter over when D realised what was on, she could see my face was purple.
I heard her screaming, "FUCK... QUIN IS CHOKING!!!"
From some place, I heard chairs moving... I was at this place all was muffled... I suddenly felt a push on my chest... I thought, "Oh, good, they did that Heimlich thing, but, the lemon is going down."
I felt air. Oxygen tinged with garlic and sour wine from the kitchen and men's cologne and voices in the room and all these bodies and hands reaching out putting me on a chair.
I asked, "Who did that thing? I thought the food went out."
Extra said, "I got to you, but, before I could reach around, like, you were bent over, and you suddenly straightened up and gasped and was breathing."
They patted me and fussed like old ladies, then Moe grabbed me a bottle of water, leaning over to hand it to me, teasing he was only doing it in the hopes he could peer down my shirt... they went back to 'treat Quin like one of the guys' after I quietly cried for a few minutes.
When I came back in, they gave me a hard time, asked if my cell phone was off... but, they didn't give me the usual guff that they do.
My boys were sweet, and when we finished around 1.30A, J insisted I take a car home instead of my usual car (the 'R' train).
I told the Oddship once... I think sometimes, you send out a prayer, the heavens still, and it wings its way to Gods ear... and He listens. I was lucky, He listened.
I know I felt a hand on me... I can still feel a sore spot where I was pushed... say what you will. I know who I felt there with me, and I'm good with that.
Now is the time to think about the whys and whatfores... what am I to do with this second chance. I was given this for some reason...
I'm very grateful I was.
Posted by quin browne at 3:31 PM