I had a friend, Michelle, in high school who would have been voted “least likely to do something bad” if we were one of those high schools that voted on things like that. I would have been voted “most likely to wet his pants if they ever make a live action Lord of the Rings film”, ah, I guess I’ve just said too much about myself again. Michelle was a good girl who didn’t do bad things. She didn’t smoke, drink, do drugs or dance (in public), she didn’t swear (though had her own ‘special words’ for special occasions), and she didn’t go to movies (this one I found the most difficult to fathom). In short, she was exactly the kind of girl (or guy) my Mom wanted for me to have as a best friend. It’s important that you hold this picture of Michelle for a moment that’s coming in minute that happened about 26 years ago.
I was a drama nerd in High School. Not the Brad Pitt kind of drama nerd that goes on to be a model and then a movie star in Hollywood. More like the kind of drama nerd who gets together a bunch of friends one summer and forms “the Young Creative Dramatic Actors group” (mostly because “Superfriends” was already taken). I still cringe at the name. The kind of drama nerd who’s greatest life-time achievement is playing the role of ‘Waldo Puppybreath’.
So one summer we, the YCDA, did this play and I was the director. It was a large ensemble cast and it was my job to try to direct my peers in this off, off, off, off Broadway production. ‘Off’ being the key word. There was one key scene in the play, a murder mystery with a ghost, that I was having particular difficulty with. Our resources were limited to what we had available on the stage in the Middle School gym and I had a scene where the lights were supposed to go out but action was supposed to continue on the stage. I wrestled with how to pull this off and finally opted for the “black light solution”. The way it was supposed to work was that the stage lights would all go black, the house would already be black and for a second it would be totally darkness and a little Cinéma vérité moment. And then black lights we rigged up in the stage lighting would come on and a ghost would seem to move around the stage in the darkness. Got the picture?
So on a very, very hot and humid Illinois summer night my cast was on stage for a dress rehearsal and we came to the climatic scene. It was one moment when the entire cast was together on the stage. The house lights were black and when the cue line was spoken, “BAM!” the stage lights went out. A beat, a moment of total darkness and then “BAM!” again and the creepy black light came on. For about two seconds the black light scene went as planned.
Suddenly, another and unexpected “BAM!” as a loud, un-scripted scream, a shriek, rang out. One of my cast fell to the stage floor and disappeared into the wings. I called for the lights to come up to sort out what just happened, to solve our very own “Hardy Boys and the Black Light Mystery” moment and find out who was messing with my rehearsal.
Here’s what happened: my friend Michelle, good, sweet, never do anything bad Michelle, the second that the black light came on, discovered that under the black light her shirt seemed to turn almost transparent and her white bra underneath, that none of saw under natural light and would NEVER see under ANY conditions, normal or otherwise, began to “shineth forth” like a neon sign for porn. Her baptist reflexes made her involuntarily scream as she crossed her arms over her chest, simutaneously falling to the floor and crawling off to the wings on her elbows, and away from the black light’s power and protecting all us guys from temptation.
Later, when Michelle wasn’t around, we guys compared notes to see just who had seen what. And of course, we all swore to her that we hadn’t seen anything at all.
The moral of our story: Good friends shouldn’t always try to see what’s wrong when another friend screams and falls to the floor.