Hello again from the Big Blue!
Whether you realize it or not, every single action you take, every day of your life, is altering your future. The smallest and seemingly most insignificant detail can determine not only your fate but the fate of untold numbers of people. For the most part, we will never know the implications of our decision to turn left instead of right but every now and then, the major directional shift caused by a minor decision is spread before us as a tantalizing “What if…?”
My What if moment happened on August 24, 1998. I was scheduled to work on a European car commercial the next day. Nothing exciting, just driving a car across a bridge. Not exactly a death defying stunt but it was a driving credit and those are always good to have on the ol’ stunt resume. But then the phone rang, it was EJ, a well known and respected stunt coordinator, offering me a day of work on the show he was coordinating, Nightman. If you missed the series, and I’m sure all of you did because it stunk, Nightman was a low budget superhero story. To this day, I’ve yet to see an episode of it.
Here was my decision: a one day gig on a commercial with no stunt coordinator or other stunt people to rub elbows with but a driving credit to my name or a one day gig on a TV series doing not much more than standing around but with a chance to be seen by those whose eyes mattered. Hmmm. The pay would be a little better on the series but that didn’t influence me much. In a business of questionable ethics, I’d promised myself early on that I would hold fast to my integrity with both hands. If I made a commitment to a job – and I had committed to the commercial – I would honour it.
That’s when the little voice in my head piped up. “Take the series.”
For whatever reason, that little voice, (the one you ignore at your own peril), told me to go against my character and principles and take the day on Nightman. So I did. It wasn’t a happy decision. I called the commercial people to back out and they promptly tore me to shreds, promising that my name would be mud and I’d never work in this town again. I was miserable. Had I not been quite so green, I would have known that stunt people do that sort of thing all the time.
On August 25th, I showed up for work on Nightman. There were only two stunt doubles that day – myself and a real livewire I’d met only briefly a few times before…Fred Perron. Fred, aka Prez, was doubling Nightman, and I would be doubling the guest star. In the scene, the hero, clad in a neoprene muscle suit and red laser eye-piece, sweeps the pink-negligee-wearing, damsel in distress up in his arms and flies away with her.
We were shooting in the studio and so for those hours and hours and hours and hours that, as usual, the stunt people have to wait around for their turn to work, the two of us could relax in the green room. You may be surprised to hear that Prez was not at all shy with me. OK, OK, stop rolling around the floor laughing. To say he pounced on the opportunity to be alone with me all day is a vast understatement. I suppose some, (maybe most), women would have been offended by the obvious come-on’s and shameless persistence but I found it kind of cute. Here was a man who not only wore his heart on his sleeve but wore it in neon colours.
You want an example?
Prez: “Have you ever ridden a jet ski?”
Prez: “Well, you should know how to ride one in case you have to ride one on set. I have
a jet ski; I can teach you how to ride. Why don’t you come out with me
When we were finally called to work, I was already half-smitten, though I never would have admitted it. Now, when Prez tells this story, he loves to say he “flew away with [me] in his arms” but here’s how it really happened:
We were both wearing full jerk vests and harnesses beneath our oh-so-impractical wardrobe. I was anything but the figure of feminine beauty, as the vest made my chest look like I’d had breast implants made out of Lego blocks. Prez was sweating off ten pounds a minute in his muscle suit and getting a headache form the laser eye-piece. We were hooked to cables that ran up to the ceiling and then a good length of time was spent adjusting our positions so that when we “flew” it would look natural. There was one truly funny moment, when the riggers tugged too hard on my cable and Prez ended up with a mouthful of crotch. “That’s perfect, right there!” he cried out from beneath me and everyone cracked up.
Once adjusted, we did take after take, flying around the studio together, sweaty, tired, and uncomfortable. But through it all, Prez kept me laughing.
How could I resist?
It was a good day. A very good day.
EJ asked me to work an extra few days on the show, which actually turned into more than a week and some decent gags. My name never became mud and the girl that replaced me on the car commercial said it was the most boring, useless stunt day she ever had. And as for Prez, well, I gave in and agreed to go jet skiing with him the next day.
We have been together every day since.
Because we waited so long to officially tie the knot, we have always celebrated our anniversary on August 25th – the day we flew away together. Tomorrow it will be ten years since that fateful decision of mine. Ten years I’d do over again in a heart beat. Ten of the most exciting years of my life. Ten years with my very best friend in the world.
Often crazy but never boring…
Sometimes I ask the What if…? What if I had stuck with the car commercial? What if we had never spent that day together? I’ll never know the answers to those questions.
The big day!
And that makes me a very lucky girl.
QUESTION: What if…?
Happy Ten Years Sweety-pie! You’ll always be my super hero.
First rafting trip. Thompson River 1998
Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!