Friday, September 4, 2009

Moulage, Monsters & Mayhem

The summer days are flying by...I'm embarrassed to say I hadn't realized how long it had been since I posted here.

For those of you on the edges of your chairs wondering how the moulage event turned out (and really, who isn't?), here's a quick report...

The event was held at a Fire Training Academy about an hour outside of Seattle...an exquisite location surrounded by endless pine trees, verdant hills, blue skies with puffy white clouds...around a HUGE post-apocalyptic field strewn with crushed and overturned cars and buses, debris, broken glass, burned concrete structures...the only thing missing was Mad Max on a motorcycle. It makes sense that the firefighter trainees would need to practice their craft in a realistic setting, but I have to tell you, it was more than a little surreal.

The 50 or so volunteer victims lined up patiently to have specialists wearing "Moulage, Monsters & Mayhem" t-shirts apply ghoulish, bloody makeup and fake wounds. The very, very best part was that we each got to select our own "injury" from among color-coded laminated cards. Nothing jumped out at me until I saw the one that read, "Minor injuries...but PANIC AND CREATE MAYHEM."

It was like Christmas, my birthday and Halloween all rolled into one moment. I thought of all the mayhem I'd been repressing for years and just knew that my big moment of catharsis had finally arrived. With a fake steel post sticking out of my shoulder, I carefully made my way down to the Field of Death with my fellow victims.

We were abuzz deciding how we were each going to play our parts. "Do you think I should lay half in and half out of the school bus?" one "deceased" woman asked. "Pick a shady spot," she was advised, "so you don't get sunburned."

Having absolutely ZERO acting experience, I quickly asked myself, "What would Meryl do?" and settled on being distraught because I couldn't find my daughter. What mother HASN'T momentarily lost track of a child in a crowded store or at the playground and felt that horrible stab of worry/guilt? Mr. DeMille, I was ready for my closeup.

I saw the first responders fanning out in the field and knew my moment had arrived. Clutching my cell phone desperately in one fist, I hurried over to one group shouting, "My daughter! I can't find my daughter! Help me find my daughter!" The first woman did a great job of calming me down, but I didn't select that particular laminated card for nothing. Nosireebob, I wasn't going down that easy. I did my best to distract her from the poor souls who actually needed medical attention until she had a moment of inspiration.

"Would you like to help find your daughter?"

"Yes, oh yes, please," I sobbed. And I swear to you, an actual tear ran down my face.

"Then why don't you sit here with this piece of paper and a pencil and write down everyone's name who comes by and see if they're also looking for someone?"

I could see through her trickery; if I were sitting down calmly writing I wouldn't be creating mayhem, now would I? I gulped in air and nodded, pretending to be helpful until she turned away to help the young woman unconscious on the ground and then I ditched the paper and resumed roaming the Field of Death for my daughter.

Group after group of first responders talked to me, calmed me down, took me to the First Aid Station where I quickly became a real pain in the rear. I lurched from person to person (all the better if they were stapped onto a backboard and couldn't move away from me), waving my "useless" cell phone and emoting, "Why won't anyone help me find my daughter?"

There weren't enough resources to spare someone watching me full time, so as soon as I was alone, I staged another jailbreak from the First Aid Station and shambled back onto the field, accosting and distracting yet another helpful team of rescuers.

After an hour and a half, even I couldn't stand myself anymore and decided to give everyone a break from the manufactured mayhem. I stopped to watch the groups of volunteer rescuers as they carefully and calmly triaged and treated dozens of "victims". It was impressive, all the more so knowing that they weren't being paid to do this; it was just their sense of community spirit and wanting to make a difference that had them give up free time to train and practice as they did.

When the drill was finally over and I was heading to my car a teenage boy looked and me and asked, "Hey, weren't you that crazy lady?"

"Yep," I told him with a wink, "that would be me."

4 comments:

julia said...

How fun for you! I'm laughing just thinking about it. I bet you were wonderful. lol

Carla Sonheim said...

Fantastic!

Psalm said...

Mom!! This is SO GOOD - I couldn't stop reading. You are a really good writer!

Jennifer Paganelli said...

such a wonderful post..you are a lucky girl so glad you were saved!!