Monday, September 14, 2009

1979 ~ The year of two heads and lots of other unusual stuff

In 1979 I was lucky enough to be cast in a show that would allow me to travel throughout the Orient. My character had no lines and was inconsequential as far as I was concerned but I didn't feel in the least bit slighted, I got to travel either way.

Including the director, I believe there were 13 of us in the group; my cousin being one of them. How cool is that, I was able to travel with my cousin and now that I think of it, she actually was cast in the part I auditioned for. I never felt bad that she won the part because she captured the character of the Raven so much better than I did.

Our tour started in Japan and then we went on to Korea, Okinawa, Guam and the Philippines. As it turned out, there was some kind of mix up in our first stop, Japan, so we weren't scheduled to perform the first few days. It was wonderful. I'd traveled outside of the U.S. before but never to a country that didn't speak either English or Spanish so it was a challenge.

The beauty of eating in Japan is that the restaurants have little plastic food bowls in the windows so you can see what they serve and decide before going inside if they offer what you want to eat or not. I'd never seen anything like it and found it quite entertaining.

Our first evening there we were taken to a traditional Japanese restaurant where we sat on the floor and were served saki and the whole enchilada....ok, no enchilada but you get my drift. I recall sitting on my legs and thinking the evening might never end, wondering; How the heck do these people sit on their legs so long without them falling asleep. It's got to be one of the most uncomfortable things any adult human would want to do while eating. Maybe if your a fly weight, it doesn't effect you, but if your of any normal size...and I probably only weighed 120 at the time, it feels as if you'll never walk again. First you try to lean to one side by slowly shifting, hoping no one will notice and think you're wimping out. Then you shift to the other side always with a beautiful smile on your face which is actually a grimace because you've just rolled over your ankle bone and are not sure if the grinding you hear is because you've just broken your bones or maybe you're putting them back in place. And heaven forbid everyone else do this at the same time because if they do the whole group will look as if they're out at sea.

And while you're trying to sit there, looking as graceful as one possible can while being tortured, you're also learning to use chopsticks. I recall a deep desire to yell out....Porque Jesus, porque (and that movie wasn't even out yet). At some point I looked around to see if maybe it was just me, and it was. Everyone seemed to be oblivious to the pain I was suffering. Maybe they were better at bone crushing than I or maybe they were throwing down far more saki than I was aware of, I'm not sure. I only know it was a loooong evening. One that gave me a sincere respect for the culture.

And as if sitting on your legs for dinner isn't enough, you need to see how the Japanese wait for the bus because again, these people are either very creative or very lazy. I still have not come to any conclusion as to which but picture this if you will. Your in a bus and as you come to a stop you see a group of people stand. Normal. Nothing out of the ordinary until you notice there was no bench. Odd. Next bus stop, same thing....people sitting waiting for a bus, the bus approaches, they stand and board the bus. Now I'm not one to cause a scene but I'm beginning to think I'm hallucinating. As we travel along, I'm thinking next stop I want answers, does the bench lower into the side walk, is it clear plastic, just what am I missing? We drive to the next stop and I finally get a clear picture. These people are not sitting on anything, they're squatting. Yeah, squatting like....squatting. I don't know about you but if I squat like that for 30 seconds, much less wait a good ten minutes at a bus stop, I can promise you I'm probably gonna take down the person next to me trying to get up. I just can't handle that stuff. And I won't even get into the issue of how they use the restroom because I'd rather not go into detail except to say that when you're out in the middle of no where and the bus pulls over to use a Japanese toilet, before squatting, check carefully for spiders. End of subject; I'm moving on.

Our last stop on the tour was the Philippines. Besides the fact that I was sick most of our time there, I really enjoyed the Philippines. What's that you ask? Why was I sick? Ahhhh, now there's a story.....

We stayed at some very lovely places, one of which was a hotel on the beach. Sadly, we arrived late in the afternoon. We were tired and ran up to check into our rooms, not able to enjoy the beach at all, as I recall.

I was scheduled to room with Cynthia. We ran into our room and as I turned to look at the beds I noticed a cockroach about the size of a fully grown, 1,000 year old desert turtle on the pillow of one of the beds. I quickly ran to the other bed, threw my stuff on it and said in the sweetest, didn't see a thing voice "that bed is yours". I can still remember the look of terror on Cynthia's face as she screamed. Then and there we knew it would be a sleepless night. We paced the floor together wondering what we could possibly do to escape the creature. Neither she or I could come up with a solution so she immediately called for room service and ordered two beers (I was not drinking at the time). Within no time room service appeared and as we answered the door to our salvation, over the head of the bell hop flew in what looked like two dive bombers on a mission to destroy. And destroy is what they did. Cynthia and I were sure we would die. In a panic we grabbed the drinks and ran out the door directly behind our bell hop leaving him to think he'd done something wrong but we didn't care, if we wanted to live through the night, we had to leave the room then and there. We ran to the patio to have our drink in peace. To our surprise, just about everyone else in our group was already down there with the same dilemma, same solution; drunkenness feels no pain. We all laughed and drank until the deadly hour when we needed to return to our rooms.

Cynthia and I were in luck. The boys had had just enough beer that they were feeling very heroic. They offered to walk us up and check on the beasts for us before retiring to their own hell.

Before we could walk in the room, the boys removed their shoes. Aha, they were thinking, they weren't the young, dumb, boys I thought them to be after all, these were men. Men's men. We opened the door, turned on the light and there before us was an army in it's entirety. The cockroaches were out in full force and they were determined to take over our room before dawn. Our men's men turned into screaming girls....opening closet doors and slamming anything that moved with their shoes all the while yelling "die you gravy sucking pig". They turned up mattresses and pulled back covers until they could no longer take it. Our men flew out of the room and down the hall to their own quarters where we could hear them squealing and pounding their shoes long into the night. By morning I was so sick from Ulcer pain and lack of sleep, I wondered if I would ever recover.

And just one more horror story...Korea. Korea in itself wasn't a horror unless you consider the night we spent in a hotel on the economy. We checked in, as we would any other hotel. I was lucky enough to be scheduled to room with my cousin, Anita. Happily we found our room and began to settle in for the night. Within a few minutes there was a scratching on the walls. We both froze and looked at each other wondering what it might be. It took little time before we realized we had company and they weren't of the human kind. Ohhh, no. Our visitors had four legs and a long skinny tail. Our initial thoughts of showering were quickly put to bed as neither of us had any intention of slipping one toe onto the floor unless it was in clear daylight. Somehow we managed to fall asleep but not without fear on our minds. When morning came, we were up and ready to go probably faster than any other day of that tour.

We moseyed our way down to the lobby where we'd been told to meet the night before. And as we arrived we found one of our group members sleeping on a love seat. He looked terrible from lack of sleep. We asked what had happened and he nearly broke down in tears as he described his escape from hell. Apparently he too heard the scratching on the walls. It became impossible for him to sleep so he decided he would leave the room. As he walked out he was followed by one of the same furry type creatures that kept us company, but this one followed him all the way down the stairs to the lobby where it ran up on the desk where the attendant was fast asleep. The attendant of course went undisturbed the entire night. Needless to say, we carried more baggage that day than any other as every single one of us had bags under our eyes.

All in all, it was a wonderful the way, did I tell you about the unexpected, loud rumbling we experienced our first night in Korea? I think I should save it. You might get the wrong idea and think our tour was terrible.

I really don't want to close on a bad note so I thought I'd include a picture of two of the main characters out of the musical we performed through out our tour. In 1979 performing in the Robber Bridegroom, two heads were better than one.
Scott Anderson and Robb Tracy


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh wow....a tour down memory lane again, well said and fondly recounted! I remember rooming with Cynthia as well and having a visit by those B52 sized cockroaches...oddly enough, we were in a room that had a fireplace (in hotter than you know where???) and poor Cynthia screamed and flew up on the bed. I don't know where I got the courage, but I was bound and determined to help my room mate so I grabbed one of the iron fireplace pitchforks and starting whacking away at the hard-shelled beast. I told her I felt like Lizzie Borden; the thing WOULD NOT DIE! I keep whacking away at it to no avail. Next time you see her, ask her if she remembers the Lizzie Borden cockroach moment. Ah...those were fun times. Anita

Rattus Scribus said...

That was hilarious. The bus-waiting squatters: "I want answers." The 1000 year old turtle sized cockroach. The girl-like screaming Men's men. Keep it up. I just posted another blog you might like.
God bless,

Marie said...

Anita, I recall the adventure with the fireplace beast. I was there laughing at your determination. I remember you trapped it under the trashcan but it was wire mesh and it escaped again, or something like that. Good old days for sure.

I'll have to ask Cynthina but I'm sure she remembers.

Love ya,

Debbie said...

Men screaming like little girls! Marie I could totally picture it! I was laughing out loud! Girl, that would've been it for me! I'd be on a plane back home so fast ... I hate bugs. Especially big, crunchy ones. HOW DID YOU SURVIVE?!