When I woke up from my involuntary Propofol trip I was in the recovery room. I was lying on an ambulatory bed. There were five people in the room. A male nurse was removing tubes and needles from my arm. He appeared to be Latino. Next to me there was another bed with a female patient on it, I couldn’t tell what her race was. A young white female nurse was helping her. Across the room I could barely see an Asian head rising above the counter of a tall desk. It took me two seconds to recognize him, he was my anesthesiologist. And that’s when I began my interminable blabbering . . .
“There you are my friend, you know what? I love Asian guys, most of you guys are educated, respectful, and you know what else, I’ve never seen an Asian wino or homeless asking for money outside liquor stores. Oh, but now I remember race has nothing to do with it besides I bet you’re a hundred percent American. You must be proud of your race, and most of you are handsome too. Ah, but I also like Blacks and Latinos like me, and Hindu people are nice too. Let’s not forget Whites, sometimes they’re nice too, and the good thing about them is that they never get offended like us, ‘the minorities’. Hey Doc, what did you use to sedate me? I feel really, really good. I feel mellow, relaxed, I feel like a hippie. I want to share my euphoria and cheerfulness. Did you put some weed in the mix? Can I have some of that stuff before I go? Do veterinarians use that stuff too? I’ve read they could use some of that stuff for human executions, that can’t be true, but if they do, then it’s a good way to die, it’s like a reward. Better than the chair anyway. How could someone not get addicted to this wonderful drug? In this ‘world’ everybody is nice”.
That drug was hitting my sympathetic nervous system for sure.
Somehow, the Propofol was going straight to the section of my brain where I had stored the ideas for the short film I wanted to create. When I came out of the operating room, I was feeling like a director, like an actor, like a cinematographer. It was unbelievably cool. I, myself was the camera, my eyes were the camera. And it was very easy to handle, no need to focus, no need for a dolly or a Steadicam, all I had to do was turn my head. The moment I opened my eyes I started filming. And I was watching the movie. I swear to God I was watching the MOVIE at the same time. You have to believe me, I was filming with my eyes. I first focused on my nurse:
INT. HOSP. RECOVERY ROOM – DAY
No one was saying a word, all of them were smiling. The other nurse was moving her head sideways and looking at me from the corner of her eye, and her patient was rolling her eyes, and I kept going . . . “tell me Doc, (I was still referring to my anesthesiologist) if you were sick, would you like to be attended in this hospital or would you rather go to the Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills? Would you rather have a graduate Doctor from UCLA or from another country like Mexico or India or Russia or . . . oh, but what a silly question, I forgot doctors don’t get sick. I bet that before they die they inject themselves with Propofol. Hey! I just remember that movie with Michael Caine, what’s it called? Oh yeah, “Cider House Rules” that’s right! The Doctor keeps self-medicating ether. Anyway, he was always in a good mood. He loved all the kids in the orphanage and all the princes of Maine and all the kings of New England too.”
When I entered the operating room this was the scene: I’ll try to be as accurate as possible. There were nine or ten people in that room. They were all young. Four females and five males. All the girls appeared to be in their twenties. I only knew the name of one of them. Janet Lee, she was probably the oldest, in her late twenties, I think. The anesthesiologist was Asian too. I remembered I asked him what kind of anesthesia he was going to use on me, and he said Propofol. I’ve met most of them before, but I didn’t catch their names. I didn’t capture any foreign accents on any of them, but several races were involved in the group. Asian, Hispanics, Whites, and African-Americans. But to me, they were all Americans. The room had such an air of universality that I wanted to start singing “It’s a Small World”. I felt like I was in Disneyland. The moment I entered the room I felt safe. They were young, they seemed to be smart and well educated, they were very friendly, and in a good mood. Seeing so many happy faces in a single room made me happy. They were having fun helping sick people and enjoying their jobs. It was definitely a group of young talented people. The future of America seemed bright in this room.
I waited for seven hours, from 9 to 4 in the prep room. The friendly group that was going to perform the surgery had come in waves to ask the usual questions about my medical record, allergies, medications, and other information about my health. But I wasn’t prepared to spend so many hours doing nothing; I didn’t fall asleep, so I kept thinking about a project I had in mind:
“To Kill a Mockingbird” was the theme for the next Germ Film Festival in Fresno, Ca. I had to develop a five-minute short film around that movie, or book. So I had seven hours to think about that project. I knew it wasn’t easy. The story involved racial inequality, a false accusation of rape, mental and physical abuse. A humble and ethical lawyer, a mentally challenged neighbor, and a jury made out of twelve White persons. All told from the point of view of a ten-year-old girl. I loved the movie. Gregory Peck was absolutely perfect for the role, and the three kids were great, as was everybody else. But the story by Harper Lee was incredibly amazing. Another thing that I found amazing was that things haven’t changed a lot since then, it’s very sad. People like Donald Trump are ruining the situation even more. Ignorant intolerant persons like him are interfering with America to become a better country. It’s very sad indeed. America and the whole world had spent the entire twentieth century struggling to improve human relations, trying to erase hatred from the human mind, I thought it was working. But now my opinion has changed. It seems that we have to endure another century in the same conditions.
Anyway, the theme was complicated, it had too many characters. A lot of scenes had to be considered, and several locations were going to be needed. It was just too hard, and I still had to take into account the zero-dollar-budget. I found “To Kill a Mockingbird” very hard to transform into a five-minute-movie. I thought that maybe I could turn it into a parody and name it: “Tequila Mockingbird” and maybe I could turn the characters into their complete opposite, I thought about an all group of black people in the jury, and change the color of the skin of the ‘rapist’, and have a different type of lawyer, like Paul Newman in “The Verdict”, drunk and down on his luck, (hence the title) or have the ten-year-old girl kill all the bad characters in the movie with a slingshot. But I couldn’t find anything satisfying or convincing. I lost seven hours thinking about it. In the end, I decided to let it go and try something else. And just when I thought I had material for another story. They came for me, to shoot me with an injection full of Propofol.
When I was wheeled out of the hospital, I felt something was wrong. I felt terrible, I didn’t say thanks to anybody. I didn’t even shake their hands. I bet they’re used to that. But it’s not that I was ungrateful it was just unexpected, one second I was in and the next I was out. I didn’t even see the doctor who performed the surgery or anybody else except for the anesthesiologist. The worst thing about it was that I didn’t have any energy to return and hug and kiss everybody.
You might not believe this but Michael Jackson was singing “Black and White” in the radio when I turned on the car. Right away, I thought that song could be perfect for the movie I just saw inside my brain. It also came to my mind that he had overdosed and died on Propofol.
But I’m sure Michael had been watching a great movie too.
Lancaster, Ca. 01-11-2016