Even though I was an irritating child, the Coach never seemed particularly irritated with me--so the moments that he clearly WAS irritated with me stand out in my memory with a special clarity. One of those moments occurred over the Thanksgiving break of my 8th grade year.
Ugh. Eighth grade.
Anyway, I was in the middle of reading To Kill a Mockingbird when we had to meet up with aunts and uncles and cousins in Pleasant Grove for Thanksgiving dinner, which we held in some sort of recreational hall--maybe even a church?--because my dad had thirteen siblings and I had a boatload of cousins. No mere home could contain us all.
Well, I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay home and read because I was love, love, love, McLoving that book so much. But my parents forced me to go with them. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PARENTS? So I took along my book and skulked outside and hid myself and read in the freezing cold away from cousins.
The Coach apparently noticed I was MIA. So he came looking for me. And when he found me reading instead of socializing he was peeved, which surprised me. At the time I wondered if he was mad at me for being a dork. I was often mad at myself in those days for being a dork. I'm still not sure why he was so bothered, although now that I'm a LOT older than he was at the time, I suspect it had something to do with tricky family dynamics. Because families have dynamics. That are tricky.
I turned on the TV just now and heard the news that Harper Lee passed away. And the idea occurred to me that I'd like to write a column about how much To Kill a Mockingbird has meant to people.
If you want to tell me, I'm all ears. And in the interest of full disclosure, I might quote you.