To Coach A Mockingbird

To Coach A Mockingbird

BOBBIN

In summer 2013, Atlanta home values skyrocketed, increasing by 17% on average. My landlord decided to put her house on the market and kick my husband and me out despite our flawless rental history. I arrived home one evening to find all the shades open, my favorite coffee mug broken, and my vibrator lying in the middle of the bedroom floor. Apparently a professional photographer had trudged through the house taking pictures for the online listing. Did the wayward dildo make the bedroom look more peaceful? I don’t understand the artist’s logic.

My husband and I took our impending homelessness as a sign to buy a house in the city while we still sort of but not really could afford it. Every night we stampeded through bungalows all over town with our realtor, who named his first son after Kris Kristofferson.

I made friends with Ferguson, my prospective future neighbor in Kirkwood, after falling in love with a crumbling historic abode my husband and I planned to revamp with a renovation loan. Ferguson called the owner on our behalf and suggested that he accept the “sweet young couple’s” bid, but an investor squashed our lowball offer by at least 25K.

We eventually got under contract on a Victorian house steps away from Oakland Cemetery and discovered halfway through due diligence that the home served as a Section 8 rental. The tenant reluctantly allowed us inside for the inspection, demanding that we not disturb her sleeping son; his bedroom door remained locked.

While the inspector noted that the living room soon would cave in because of extensive water damage, I wandered around the master bathroom, my eyes falling on the tenant’s off-brand douche by the Jacuzzi.

I retreated to the hallway and overheard the inspector taking photographs of a rodents’ nest under the kitchen sink, stomach churning at the thought of off-balance vaginal flora and cohabitation with rats.

The tenant’s son emerged from his bedroom. I expected to see a 5-year-old holding a stuffed rabbit and sucking his thumb. Instead a shirtless twenty-something cocked his head at me and street-walked out the front door.

My husband and I terminated the deal. Jason, do you think the tenant left her douche out to scare away buyers? How imaginative.

JASON

I wish every home inspection came with a sleeping shirtless man that you were not allowed to disturb. Like the board game Don’t Wake Daddy, but with more water damage and conspicuous douches.

Do you remember if there was punctuation on the title of the box art for Don’t Wake Daddy? Was it “Don’t Wake Daddy?” or “Don’t Wake Daddy!”?

Seems like the title of a board game about not waking daddy would have an exclamation mark at the end. Because otherwise you’re asking kids, “Should we wake daddy?”

People used to believe that the soul left the body as an animal while you slept and if you woke up before the animal returned to your body or if the animal was killed while outside of your body you died in your sleep.

What do you think, kids? Should we cleave daddy’s soul from his body? Should we punish him for letting his guard down around us for even a second? Should we cover our faces in warpaint and slaughter every nearby beast and bird, whispering “Goodbye daddy” in their ears as they die?

Well, what do you say, Bobbin? Should we wake daddy? While we’re at it, should we wake our adult sons and tell them the house is being sold? Should we douche in or around the Jacuzzi before we open up the house for inspection?

I mean, if you think about it, your skull is like a house for your brain, Bobbin. Do the Bobbins of the world just get to come in and make an offer on our skulls, too? Is that what you want, Bobbin—to try on someone else’s skull for a change? How much are you willing to pay for my skull? Do I need to kick my thoughts out of my head for you to come and inspect it? I promise not to leave any douches laying around beside the Jacuzzi of my mind.

What do you think, kids? Should we cleave daddy’s soul from his body? Should we punish him for letting his guard down around us for even a second?

Sometimes I think about how we’re all really just renting our skulls until the day we all street-walk out the front door of BEING ALIVE, presumably as some kind of critter or varmint.

To quote Jimi Hendrix, “And so castles made of sand, melts into the sea, eventually.” Or to quote mothers whose shirtless adult sons who are not to be disturbed while you inspect their homes, “and so douches off-brand, left by Jacuzzi, in realty.”

By the way, I looked up the box art for Don’t Wake Daddy. There is NO punctuation on the box. Judging by the synchronized horror on both the faces of daddy and the cat next to his bed, I’m guessing daddy’s soul didn’t make it back to his body in time.

BOBBIN

Punctuation causes me great anxiety, Jason. Thank you for bringing up such a sore subject. Because we are friends, I’m going to interpret this as a gesture of affection instead of deliberate aggravation.

My grammatical elitism began in third grade when I joined my community softball league and suggested we use the team name Lady Noc-a-Homas in homage to the Atlanta Braves’ original mascot. However, when our coach opened the box of freshly printed t-shirts, the text “Lady Noc-a-Homa’s” nearly sent me into anaphylactic shock.

“WHOSE Noc-a-Homa?” I asked while sassily leaning on my Louisville Slugger.

No one acknowledged my point or even laughed.

“Lady Noc-a-Homa IS?!” I huffed, kicking the fence, lodging my cleat in one of the holes.

“Don’t be a jerk, Bobbin,” my mother warned me from the bleachers.

The next summer I graduated into the softball league’s older age group, and played on Team Bravettes with my big sister – appropriately in 1995 when the Braves won the World Series.

Both my sister and I wanted to be Number 5 because we adored Ron Gant. I sprinted to the line where our coach took number requests and clamored for it first. In an attempt to placate my tearful sister, our coach hugged her and then held her at arms’ length while sharing her hillbilly wisdom:

“Who would want the Number 5? Don’t worry about it. Ron Gant is BLACK.”

My sister and I froze in disbelief like the Scout Finches of our town. We were quite aware of Ron Gant’s skin color; we clapped in celebration of his speed, along with Otis Nixon’s.

If only the pig lodged in our coach’s skull had escaped that night and somehow stumbled into its own slaughter.

Like Atticus Finch never said, “Shoot all the bigoted softball coaches you want, but remember: it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

“Who would want the Number 5? Don’t worry about it. Ron Gant is BLACK.”

JASON

Bobbin, it may please you to know that I was in a stage production of To Kill A Mockingbird in college. I ran a hundred degree fever the night of the show, but I insisted on going up and playing a member of the jury!

My attitude about theater is, if I let fever and chills stop me from tilting my head meaningfully while sitting in a folding chair meant to represent a seat in a jury box and making a face like I’m considering not being racist anymore thanks to Atticus Finch’s impassioned words, then the mockingbirds have already won. Or lost?!

You know what would have spiced up that production of To Kill A Mockingbird? If a guy in a mockingbird costume had come out at the end and run through the aisles of the theater holding out his wings to high five everybody.

Well, I guess his hands under his wings would be what he was using to high five everyone. Like, the wings are on his arms, and his hands are in gloves the same color as the wings, so he can still slap you five but not ruin the illusion of having wings.

I mean, I’ve never put together a mockingbird costume, but I feel like it would be better to give the actor a way to be more expressive with his hands and not just make him jam his fingers up in there. Oh, and we could put some wires on him so when he gets back to the stage he can fly up over everyone’s heads.

Or even better—he could kneel and Atticus Finch and Scout could climb on his back and even Boo Radley and then they could all fly over the crowd like the kid from The NeverEnding Story riding a luck dragon. They could even force the racist characters to get in a dumpster like the bullies in The NeverEnding Story. “To Kill a Luck Dragon!” God, why hasn’t anyone made a NeverEnding Story/To Kill a Mockingbird crossover movie?! What has Harper Lee been doing the last 54 years?!

Either way, I hope that the guy in the mockingbird costume has a strong back. This is why he needs his hands to be free—so he can shove the heavier Atticuses or Boo Radleys (Boos Radley?) off his back if it feels like they’re about to break his spine. Just push em off and let them fall into the crowd, I say!

Who wouldn’t want the chance to catch Three-Time Tony Award Winner Glenn Close dressed as Atticus Finch as she fell from the arms of a man dressed as a mockingbird with a wide range of movements available to his fingers and wrists?

Okay, you’re probably wondering why I cast Glenn Close as Atticus Finch. I googled “Three-Time Tony Award Winner” and the first result was Glenn Close and I was like you know what, this could work if she slicked back her hair and wrapped tape around her breasts. Or not! Are you threatened by an Atticus Finch with breasts, Bobbin? Racist AND sexist?? For shame!

Also, if you buy a ticket to the show, you have to agree to hold up your arms and catch any falling good characters. The bad characters like Bob Ewell and the citizens of Maycomb who use the N-word will have to put extra padding in their costumes if they want to keep from getting injured.

I mean, wrestlers fall on broken glass all the time. I’m sure a theater major with a pillow tied to his back (or butt, or stomach, wherever they think they might land—but they need to choose wisely because they only get one pillow) can handle falling 10 feet onto a carpeted theater floor.

Actually, you know what? Maybe some nights the mockingbird picks up the good characters and some nights he picks up the bad ones. Like the crowd could pick who should go up with the mockingbird by cheering or voting.

“This one?” the mockingbird would say in a muffled voice, holding his wing over Glenn-Close-as-Atticus’s head. “Or this one?” he’d gesture with his other wing at a racist townsperson with a pillow strapped to his head (good choice!).

I still haven’t figured out how to make it so the actor’s voice is audible from inside the mockingbird’s head—not everybody got a degree in Fibers from SCAD for textile design, Bobbin!

Anyway, the mockingbird could be like, “It’s a sin to kill meeeeeeeee” as he’s lifted above the curtains with whoever the audience chooses, eventually either dropping them to their fate or carrying them to parts unknown, depending on how his back feels that night, but he would definitely be dropping your softball coach.