I almost died the other week, in the most undignified way too. And most peculiarly, had I bit the dust then and there, my dying thoughts would have been of Robin Williams, dressed in geriatric drag.
I’ll back-track a bit. I adore the mid-90’s film Mrs Doubtfire. It has so much going for it- educational messages about divorce, the best dance scene to an Aerosmith song involving a vacuum cleaner ever, and an excellent use of fat suits and body make-up in the days before CG animation. But for me, Mrs Doubtfire is priceless for the film’s climax- the choking scene, in which Robin Williams rushes between being Mrs Doubtfire/his true (male) self, and ends up choking on his/her own false teeth, only to be saved by the suave Pierce Brosman.
So, it was this scene that dashed into my head the other week as I had my own choking incident, and thus a movie moment: moments which would be really funny, or make a fantastic scene in a film, if they weren’t happening to you. When they are happening to you, they’re invariably not funny and usually highly stressful, scary and their only redeeming feature is the little voice in your head saying ‘well this will make a fantastic story later!’
Unlike Mrs Doubtfire, I was not dressed in drag when I started to choke, but I was, like her, in a nice eatery with nice people. The first work dinner/drinks at a new job. It had been going so well. I was monitoring my consumption of pisco sours, making polite conversation, eating the olives and breads. Unfortunately, based on what happened next I can report that: steak does not make a good tapas, and you cannot cut steak with a fork, and yelling ‘Is there a doctor in the house’ doesn’t produce a doctor. Next thing you know, I’m grabbing the knee of the person next to me making panicked ‘Im choking’ eyes, people are wondering what to do, my boss is trying to save me with the heimlich manoeuvre and a workmate comes to the rescue with a huge whack on my back. In my slightly oxygen-deprived state, my only thought was how to gracefully removed said steak evidence and pretend the whole thing didn’t happen, as a room full of co-workers look on. Behold the movie moment: Fantastic to tell again later, and high embarrassing at the time.
The second recent movie moment came about slightly less dramatically, but really rests in part on the costuming. The day before the ‘moment’, I’d purchased some fantastic electric blue trousers, and was proudly taking them on their first big outing to the city. We (Trousers and I) were returning home on the bus, at the melancholic late Sunday afternoon time when the weekend has faded and the evening thoughts turn to the coming week. The bus stopped and a group of bullet-proof vest and cap-wearing traffic policemen got on board (gun and sun protected- a powerful combo). Trousers and I weren’t perturbed, as we naively believed we were riding on the right ticket. Wrong. Very wrong. Shortly after, the traffic policeman with a very 80s haircut and ‘mo asked the driver to stop the bus so I can be questioned further. It starts to rain (it’s a movie moment, how could it not), I start the cry (he was very very serious, and I had images of a night in the cells…although I do realise he’s not actually a ‘real’ cop, even if he didn’t). Words like $200 fine are being bandied about, words like ‘This is the most illegal thing I’ve ever done’ are being slung (sobbed) back. And then the moment is over, the policeman hops the next bus, and Trousers and I are left in the rain. Another movie moment, where you wish it wasn’t happening to you in all its upsetting glory, but it makes good fodder for the next catch up with friends.
I think we all need a movie moment or two every now and then. It keeps your emails to loved ones interesting, and you’ll invariable learn something you didn’t already know, or knew but were trying to ignore (like steak knives were invented for a reason). Of course, the best movie moments are the kind where something so exciting or magical happens, it seems like that final triumphant scene at the end of every feel-good film: Here’s to many more of them.