The whole crew is sharing a large house on a plantation, and we are all excited as we have a formal living room, as well as one very cool bar that is in its own room. It\’s very masculine with cork on the walls, leather couches and a full bar area with an ice machine. I think immediately to the fun cocktail hours we will have as a group decompressing with gin and tonics in hand after a hard day of work, the wonderful dinners we will fix as well as sharing breakfast on the lovely screened-in porch that is shaded by trees dripping in Spanish moss. But this is TV production, breakfast is scarfing down an egg sandwich in the car en route to the first location while you pray you don\’t drop anything on your on-camera wardrobe (my stylist, Christina, praying even more) and dinner is a Sonic Burger at 10 p.m., because it was the only restaurant open. They did look like great burgers, luckily I bought a can of soup, which I heated up and we all did spend a nice hour sitting in our formal living room while Alan, our camera man, played the grand piano.
On our first evening there, we made a trip to the nearby Piggly Wiggly, a name that instantly endears you to this place — it was me, our director Emma, Christina and our producer Leslie, and we became so smitten with the idea that a supermarket could be called such a great name that we all bought Piggly Wiggly socks. I believe Leslie even bought Piggly Wiggly key chains for the folks back at the office.
On Friday evening, we get to go to Family Kingdom, an old-time amusement park located right across from the beach. It\’s a bit on the \”it\’s seen better days\” side, but the nostalgia of it all just makes it more charming. The amusement parks I\’ve been going to lately are impossibly modern and meticulously kept. They are great fun, but I haven\’t been on the Himalaya ride or bumper cars in decades. At the end of the shoot, we all go on the roller coaster, which is so rickety and jarring that you swear your liver has dislodged from its internal moorings and is now just banging around in your body like a pinball in a machine. While shooting B-roll, Christina and I had a break. Both of us are the same age and, like all women from our time, we share a love of video games. Playing video games was about independence, it was also a way for us to show off in front of boys and so we became athletes of Ms. Pac Man, Centipede, Dig Dug, Qbert and the best game ever made: Galaga. Christina and I get along as if we have been best friends since grade school, but the mere mention of the name Galaga, and our eyes narrow as we hold each other\’s gaze staring the other one down. If we were in school, there would have been a fight at recess. We play each other for the first time, and Christina dies before even the first stage is done. If this were junior high school, she would have never recovered from that. In the second round, she plays the game of her life, breaking the 100,000 score. This is what is so endearing about Family Kingdom, it was our youth. And the video games still cost what they did back then — 25 cents.