I have not seen Contagion. I hadn't planned on it, frankly. Even if I did, I doubt I'd make it as far as the concession stand, much less the ticket booth. Every time I mention it, people I didn't think were paying much attention will suddenly focus upon me intently. Some will gently explain to me why this is not a very good idea given my tendency to overreact to things like world-wide plagues. Others will yell at me because they think that anything spoken loudly enough will be taken seriously. They know this because they have heard me yelling about plagues off and on over the years.
There is a third group who will whip out their car keys and jingle them at me in order that the shiny/sparkly might divert my attention long enough for someone to block the doors. That only works about a quarter of the time, but bless their little hearts for trying...
They are all wasting their time. Like I said, I wasn't planning on going. I know it's a bad idea and that I'll probably be barricaded in my house for six months, existing only on the Junior Mints and stale popcorn I brought home from the theater. Besides, I don't really need to go. I can probably come up with a similar plot line if I try hard enough.
Since I can't really think in terms of "sweeping epic" and "world-wide stage," I'd probably just do the whole thing on a smaller scale. Say, for example, a school. That is familiar to me what with being a teacher since before the beginning of time and all. Schools are pretty good microcosms, I think.
I'm guessing that my mini version would have everything going smoothly at first. The viewers would be lulled into a false sense of security. There would be rampant reading in the library and all sorts of mathing down in algebra class. The cafeteria would be running at peak efficiency since it's the beginning of the year and the kids haven't stuffed leftover pickles into all the vents yet. Life would be good.
When the first sniffles start, no one would really react much. Fall is, after all, allergy season for some. In fact, it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to see several kids sneezing. For all the reassuring sense of normalcy, the audience probably won't be able to resist that little shudder of impending doom. Things are about to go badly for our little school-based mini-movie world residents.
Everyone on screen will still be happily ensconced in denial, though. Everyone, that is, except for one astute observer. There is always one astute observer in these films. It's usually The Discredited Scientist In The Basement Lab. This is the one who will see The Pattern Emerging. That, as we all know is key to the plot development. We need to have someone who can do that in our mini-movie.
Let's see...who could it be? I know! How about that quirky teacher they put in the out of the way classroom and sometimes forget about because she and her students aren't exactly like all the others who go to this school. She sounds like the type to start babbling about plagues once the sniffles start.
And, much like The Discredited Scientist frantically making calls from down in the basement, she will be ignored.
Before you know it, the plague will have descended upon our little school. The student absence list will be miles long and kids will be sent home. Teachers will be calling out sick in spite of it being only the third week of classes but there is really nothing else to be done for it. Had they listened to the quirky teacher up in the ignored classroom, things might have been different. But they didn't and now they have naught but their own selves to blame!
(This isn't really true...no one can stop the plague, but the quirky teacher doesn't have much to cling to so let's just let her have this one, 'kay?)
Now, here's the good part. You'll love this! You know how movies sometimes have a twist at the end? It's all going along one way and then it suddenly surprises you? Well, how about if our little drama doesn't follow the predicted story arc? Usually the Discredited Scientist gets to avoid the plague because he is so much smarter than everyone else and remembered to wear his gas mask while everyone else romped playfully about in the rain of bacteria.
Well, it's not going that way in OUR movie! Not at all. In our version, the quirky teacher doesn't avoid the plague. She might think she did. She might have even thrown out an "I told you so" or two over the course of the Plague Week. But she will, in fact, be as infected as everyone else. She will wake up on Saturday morning sicker than anyone else (at least by her own estimation) and spend her entire weekend snuffling, snorting and shoving tissues up her nose fetchingly. By Monday, she will be feeling a little bit better and won't even have a day off to show for her suffering. She will have to drag her sore throat and red nose off to the House Of Book Learning And Infection so she can be sickly with everyone else.
I know it's not exactly the same as the big screen version of Contagion. It's probably not even close. But I like to think I got one or two points right. And if I didn't, they'll have to stand for now.
It's time for my next dose of decongestant...
Dateline – Toronto
15 hours ago