“A full lunar eclipse? Well, we just have got to do something about that…” said Lisa.
Right then, I should have remembered what the word lunatic meant.
It was August 17th, 1989, and the four of us were wrapping up our day quite late at the recently opened Disney MGM Studios. It was never a 9 to 5 day for us, and it was ticking up to midnight. Our work motto in those younger more resilient days was that sleep was for weaklings, and you can expect to sleep when you die. So we just worked pretty much 24/7. And when we played…
I was concluding my phone calls as crew scheduler making sure multiple camera crews reported on time the next day equipped with what they needed. Amy, a production manager, was running down her notes double checking her gig just one more time, her feet propped up on my desk, laughing at some loony irony of the day. She is an expert at irony.
Tiersa leaned on the doorframe of my office. She had just come from her realm in the executive trailer where she was gal Friday to the Vice President of the Studios. As I recall, she was there to tell me to quit sneaking into his office and moving things round to annoy his starchy perfectionism. He could tell things were disturbed by the shifts in the dust on his desk. Me driving him crazy was driving her crazy too.
And, finally, the tall blonde drink of water who could lift or throw anything as far as any guy on the crew, Lisa, strolled in from Lighting & Grip world, bored, anxious and looking for something to do that Thursday night.
It was a convergence of dangerous females, all single young career chicks with no male encumbrances at the time. We were too competent, tough and bossy for just any guy, so that would have to come later. Plus working at the theme park made it pretty slim pickins’ for eligible straight guys anyway. So we put some carpe in the diem all for ourselves.
Somebody dubbed us “The Girl Gang” because whenever there was a party to plan, amp up, or burn down, we did it. And still made set call the next morning.
That night we were spoiling for an adventure. The prospect of seeing a full lunar eclipse first hand just spoke to our southern pagan hearts.
Lisa owned a Ford Explorer with four wheel drive and wanted to take us “mudding” in the cow pastures somewhere out behind SeaWorld where the streetlights wouldn’t wash out the eclipse spectacle.
And, she knew where there was a sale of good champagne at an all-night liquor store. It turned out to be Dom Perignon. We bought a bottle apiece and shot the corks at each other right away taking big swigs straight from the bottle. No prissy flutes would survive the night anyway.
At the time, many roads around the theme parks would be paved beautifully but you could, if you knew where, round a corner and drop off to rutted dirt in a second. That’s where we went off-roading.
Lisa at the wheel, and the rest of us screaming like an asylum on fire, we bucked and rolled and hopped all over that big stretch of pasture land, holding our champagne bottles like gyroscopes to keep from spilling a drop. Bonking our heads on the ceiling of the car, we saw great grey washes of dirt and mud from puddles and probably quite a bit of cow poop shoot up from under the wheels until her Explorer looked white in the moonlight.
And it was serious moonlight. Full, low and blazingly white with a face-shaped mottling of grey.
“I gotta pee,” announced Tiersa, and we stopped on top of a rise. That’s what passes for a hill in Florida. Tiersa gingerly set her white dress-up shoes on the ground and scurried off a ways to take care of business in spite of being dressed still in office chic attire. I made the mistake of going directly in front of the Explorer and Lisa and Amy flipped on the headlights just as I could do nothing but squat there and call them names while mosquitos bit my bright white butt.
But then, it began. The moon that was laughing at us with a full round face began to change. A red wedge gradually encroached on his cheek like a rash slowly taking over the moon’s face. He looked down on us and it almost seemed as though his expression changed to fear and bewilderment. What is this eating my smile? In a short time, the moon turned red and expressionless. Like a blush at some embarassment. A penumbra of white light backlit him like a movie star.
We sat on the bumper of the Explorer and quietly sipped our champagne looking up in awe as the shadow of the earth consumed the moon.
Could have been me.
Could have been any one of us, but someone howled like a wolf.
And the rest of us chanted in our own howl harmonies. Echoes of what may have lurked in our genetic memories as a natural reaction to the harrowing sight of a blood hued moon just burst out of us.
The red disc began to pull across the moon revealing his hearty happy face again, and we howled louder.
Until the deer-blinding hunting lights from the trucks lined up on the next rise came on and we heard,
“Hey ladies! What’s up? Let’s party…Whoohooo!” Dub in the leering, cackling, teeth-challenged, hygiene-resistant trollish laughter here.
Some stinkers had snuck up on us.
We jumped into the Explorer like wet cats and took off.
They pursued us a while, hooting and hollering and quite frankly scaring the hell out of us. But we lost them about the time we cleared a low hillock and came down into a cow wallow with a sticky wet thud.
We stuck right up to the floorboards in muck, all four wheels spinning in futility.
We sank up to our kneecaps in it too when we stepped out of the vehicle. Even Tiersa sunk in her white dress-up pumps which were almost sucked off her feet in the mess. No amount of rocking or stuffing dry materials or empty bottles under those tires was going to get Lisa’s Explorer out of that sucking quagmire either.
We waded out, found a utility road where power lines snapped and sizzled over our heads for miles and made for the lights toward Kissimmee on foot. The four of us. The Girl Gang with our arms around each other’s shoulders, covered in mud and poop.
None of us missed our call the next morning. Not a one.