Sunday, March 23, 2014
Michael's Story - Part two...of at least three!
Running Arts is quickly getting away from me! What started as a nice simple utility to eventually link to my Team Fox fundraising page (still in production) has become a monster, a vicious time-sucking gorgon, and I have no shiny shield! That being said, I guess if by chance you are one of my readers, I should probably focus less on blog mythology, and I should continue an earlier post about why I'm here, and why you might want to read on.
I left off on the story of my life at the crucial moment described as "...an odd bunch of coincidences, including a naked and wet actress at my Boy Scout camp, and a freaky fortune cookie!" Let us pick it up from there, queue the backstory.
I am an Eagle Scout. I am insanely proud of this. Not only did Scouting help me grow into a responsible adult, it also afforded me many opportunities to travel the world, and thrust more factoids into my ever-hungry noggin. Also, it allowed me to participate, in a small way, in the production of Doc Hollywood, a fun little comedy staring Michael J. Fox as a big-city Doctor stuck in the middle of nowhere. The nowhere they filmed at included one corner of my Council's Boy Scout Camp in little ol' Melrose, Florida.
Just 45 minutes East of Gainesville is a beautiful lake on the edge of a huge prairie. Today, on the Western-most corner of that lake sits the foundation of a set, built years ago. Before our Scout crew demolished what would become a dilapidated set of walls, it had been a noble cabin façade which the lead character, Benjamin Stone, temporarily resided in. However, my interaction with Hollywood begins a few weeks earlier still; to use the site the production crew needed about 50 yrds of fencing removed, so our service team provided the labor. The payoff was...well, for a 16 year old, magical.
Imagine you are 16 and you have spent the last 5 summers and numerous other weekends hiking, biking and driving around hundreds of acres of un-mapped wilderness, logging every secret trail in your internal GPS, then one day, a collection of very VERY sunburned and heat-stroked Hollywood production people explain that they have no idea how to get out of the isolated location in which they have been working. More than that, they realize they have no idea how to get the rest of the Cast and Crew to them...also, you, and several other teens, just happen to have the keys to the 18 passenger camp vans. So began my brief driver-of-the-stars career.
I should say now that this is a more romanticized version. Honestly we had a few crewmembers ride with us as we led huge trucks in and out. The payoff was still to come, as one day we received a surprise backhoe delivery. There was to be a scene in the movie where the love interest, played by Julie Warner, walks out of the lake after swimming. However that end of the lake is so shallow you could barely launch a canoe, so in comes the backhoe to dig out a sloping trough in the water to allow Ms. Warner to walk out at a perfect slope to the camera. Why was this so important we wondered...because she was going to be skinny-dipping!
Now, imagine you are a 16 year old Boy Scout!
Needless to say it was very polite of the production crew to allow us to further assist them in the production by holding up trees and carrying canteens as we accidentally watched the scene being filmed. For all the craziness that happened during the production I only briefly met Michael J. Fox. There was a general hand wave and "Thanks guys." from him, but this is where the story turns South.
Fox later revealed that it was during this production, just a few days later, that he would end up at the University of Florida Neurology Department in Gainesville, my hometown, and have doctors dismiss his earliest symptoms of Parkinson's.
It is this same Neurology Department that, just a few weeks ago, gave my Father a much more in-depth diagnosis of his own symptoms.