Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday Night in May with 'Mockingbird' and a Calligraphy Brush
Here is a slice of the life of Bungalow Babe in the Big City:
Last night, at 10 pm, tired of reading To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Babe handed me his tattered paperback copy.
"Could you read me the last chapter of Part One?" he yawned/asked.
Being that I had just returned from the gym five minutes earlier, which capped off a 12-hour marathon of activity, which began with an early morning breakfast on Long Island, included a three hour cleaning frenzy at our actual upstate bungalow and had just concluded with a 45-minute session on the elliptical trainer with the music of the Go-Go's blasting in my ears, I must admit that reading out loud to my youngest child was not what I had in mind.
Evidently, my feelings were written all over my face. But Little Babe knew how to sweeten the deal.
"I'll do Japanese calligraphy on your back while you read to me," he offered.
So, for the next 20 minutes or so, while I retold Harper Lee's timeless tale, Little Babe dipped his calligraphy brush into ink and drew on the canvas of my back. The tickling touch of the brush was totally relaxing, the perfect end to a hectic day.
Sensing an opportunity, Alfie the Pomeranian curled into my side while his sister, our year-old pup Nala, watched respectfully from the floor.
Time superimposed itself onto place resulting in this moment: a fortysomething American Jewish woman in 21st Century Manhattan reading a novel based in the American South of the mid-20th Century while her young teen son draws Japanese pictographs on her back.
Nearing the end of Chapter 11, the insult hurled at Atticus Finch -- "Nigger-lover!" -- tasted foreign and uncomfortable in my mouth, a dusty vestige, long ago but not too far away.
Not so far away indeed that when Scout landed a punch on Francis's foul mouth, the blood on her fist felt warm on my own hand and the beating that she got from her uncle was as tangible as the breeze from the open window of my apartment drying the ink on my naked back.