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Old January 19 2013, 08:41 AM   #67
DakotaSmith
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Location: Redfield, Iowa, USA
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Re: Worst lines of dialogue in the entire series?

Ok, this isn't exactly what you're looking for, because it's not bad in context. But this was extremely creepy and actually happened to me.

Back in the summer of 1988, I was an actor in the summer theater company of what is now the Clinton Area Showboat Theater.

Those of us on the low end of the food chain were getting a hundred bucks.

A month.

Even then, it was a paltry sum. I actually budgeted to see Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I stayed for four showings because I couldn't afford to pay admission again that summer.

For this, we worked from 8am to 11pm, Monday through Saturday, and then a matinee on Sunday. We worked on everything from costumes to scenery to a couple of minor roles.

To be fair, they were giving us free room. The city owned both the theater and some decent public housing. It was old Army junior officers' quarters: two- or three-bedroom apartments, well-built and well-maintained.

But it was still public housing and the people who lived there were ... unsavory. My first day, as I was dragging my meager belongings upstairs, a man burst out of the buillding. Instants later, a woman who would become my next-door neighber stuck her head out the window and shrieked at him:

"Don't you talk to me 'bout GOD !! I be close to GOD -- muthah-REDACTED!!"

Absolutely true. To do it justice you have to hear my impersonation (there was a dialect and I'm still a passable voice actor). The sheer level of classless trashiness was astounding.

It was still a billion times better than the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Unfortunately, 1988 had a summer drought much worse than in 2012. Global warming my ass. The ground a mile from the Mississippi River shore was dry and cracked. You could put your hand in the cracks.

The heat, like all summers in the Upper Great Plains, often exceeded 105 degrees Fahrenheit in early August. The humidity along the Mississippi, even it its depleted state, was damned close to 100%.

Unfortunately, you can't swim the shores of the Mississippi in that area. I didn't know it at the time, but the Mississippi is so enormous that it naturally accumulates debris, dead fish, and dead wildlife. Unlike oceans or seas, there are no tides. Instead, winds tend to push the flotsam to the shores. Beaches are created by dredging sections and dumping in sand every summer.

I discovered this fact one August day when, drenched in sweat for at least the 18th straight hour, I said, "Screw it!" and dove in with my shorts and t-shirt on.

Shortly afterward I rushed to the shower.

We had no air conditioning. In deference to the fact that normal humans would die watching the play, the AC in the theater was turned on two hours before the doors opened. It was agreed that we break for two hours each day and just hang out in the AC.

Our only other relief came when we got the idea to jimmy the lock to the apartment buildings' substructures. The buildings were essentially propped on stilts: they were one step above barracks, after all. The area under the building was enclosed and the ground was bare earth. It got below 72 degrees there, if you could deal with complete darkness, cobwebs, wiring, plumbing, etc.

In August, I read a lot of comics by flashlight.

Naturally, we slept with every single window open and every fan that we could lay our hands on trained on us. The nights occasionally dipped to the upper 80s.

Now, I told you the preceding because the background is important to what happened one morning our first week there.

I absolutely swear to Great Ghu in Eir Holy Purple Robes that the following event actually took place. I am not exaggerating what happened.

One morning during our first week, as I was stirring to consciousness, I realized that I wasn't hearing my roommate's clock radio.

(Did I mention they bunked us two to a bedroom? So four of us in the junior officers' quarters built for two?)

It wasn't his radio that I was hearing, but it was kind of like music. I was really groggy at first, but I could tell it was sort of like chanting.

Then my conscious brain registered what I was hearing. I sat bolt upright, instantly awake. In moments, my roommate was also awake, registered that I was sitting up, registered what he was hearing, and then sat up himself. We kind of stared at each other while we listened.

Outside, in the common area below our window, the neighborhood children were chanting -- very, very, slowly:

"Nyyyaahhh-nyyyyaahhh-nyyyyyaahhh nnnnyeeahhh-nyeeaahh nyeeeahhhhhh ..."

Both of us were Star Trek fans. We knew we were hearing the Cry of the Onlies.

Gradually, over what seemed like fifteen minutes but was probably only two, the chanting picked up speed, ending in a crescendo of:

"NYAH-NYAH-NYAH NYAH-NYAH NYAH! NYAH-NYAH-NYAH NYAH-NYAH NYAH! NYAH-NYAH-NYAH NYAH-NYAH NYAH! NYAH-NYAH-NYAH NYAH-NYAH NYAH!"

We just sat there, dumbfounded. Quietly, so the kids wouldn't hear us, we huddled together and confirmed that we'd both heard the exact same thing. For both of us, it had been one of those moments you go from groggy to instantly alert.

When we looked outside, the common area was silent and empty.

Honest to Ghu: true story.

We might've let the matter drop, but one of the guys in the adjacent building asked if anybody else had heard it. A number of us had, though only my roommate and I knew the source material.

That was the first week. It was a very strange summer.

Dakota Smith

P.S. -

Lest you think the place was filled with love-able eccentrics, it wasn't. There was a a dark side to life in public housing.

We picked up a neighborhood kid about six years old as an unofficial mascot. He loved the theater atmosphere, liked watching us rehearse, liked pounding the occasional nail or running for tools.

During rehearsals, it would occasionally reduce us to hysterics when somebody called out, "Line!" and the six-year-old would shout back from the house. We eventually gave him a small part in our last production, a children's show.

His mom was entirely negligent. Drunk or stoned most of the time, she never had any idea where he was.

After we'd seen enough head-cases roaming the grounds, we actively encouraged him to be with us. The women in the company became motherly, the men fatherly. Someone over 18 always had him in sight. It kept our language a lot cleaner than it ordinarily would have been.

It was heart-breaking when we left when we closed for the season. We all knew that there'd be nobody watching out for him any more.
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