Monday, February 07, 2011

The Hammer Monologue

My friend Native Chick had her birthday party on Friday night, and she wanted to do something different, so she had a Talking Circle. All 12 or so of us sat in a circle, and passed around a seashell, (only the person holding the seashell could talk) and shared stories about beginnings, endings and fond memories of Native Chick.

It was pretty amazing to be a part of, even though it sounds sappy. And yes, there were more than a few tears shed, more than a few hugs, and Native Chick really does have some amazing friends who are very willing to be open, honest, and vulnerable about their past, about their fears, about their hopes and dreams, and I felt really honored to be included.

I did my fair share of sharing (hee!) but since I’m me, I can’t let things go on too long without trying to make people laugh, so I shared my favorite memory of Native Chick, which is The Hammer Monologue. Everyone liked it and laughed, and a few people said they wanted to steal some of it for their own auditions, and even if that was a joke in and of itself, it was a lovely thing to say, and so I’m sharing it here, for them, and for Native Chick, because she is a super super awesome friend.

Really devoted readers o’ the blog might remember the Katrina Mission Trip that Native Chick and I did together in 2006. And this entry here is where the hammer went down.

So this is the monologue, based on true events, my favorite memory of Native Chick.


The first thing they told us at our mission trip orientation was “Whatever you do, do NOT throw a hammer at anyone.” Which we thought was pretty odd.

We were down there a year after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans. We were staying in the Chalmette High School gymnasium with a relief organization and assigned to do gut outs of houses in the Gentilly district.

But why would we throw a hammer at anyone? All the other things they were telling us made sense. Don’t open a toxic refrigerator that hadn’t been opened since 2005, because everything inside would have congealed into a toxic orange goo that would practically eat through your arm. Always wear your respirator and helmet, as you’re gonna be ripping out insulation and plaster.

But why would we throw a hammer at someone?

We’re working for 5 days. Five days of brute manual labor. Reducing two houses to the studs, hammering through walls, poking through ceilings, carting the debris out to the sidewalk.

I have never been so physically exhausted in my life, have never had my body rebel so much at the thought of ham sandwiches in 90 degree heat, have never felt like I was doing so much and so little all at once, as I did on this mission trip.

On Day 5, Native Chick and I are in charge of tearing down a disgusting bathroom. Which is half tile. Roaches in the corners of the walls. Baby frogs hopping endlessly in the bathtub. They give us a sledgehammer and tell us to go for it. And though the thought of getting my inner drunken frat boy on SOUNDS like a great idea, we are so tired that we have to trade off after every two whacks. Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Amy. Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Native Chick.

We are so tired. Five days of this. Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Amy. Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Native Chick. Rivers of sweat under our Pyrex suits. Sounding like Kenny from South Park in our respirators masks. Seeing so many roaches that after hour 2 on the first day we didn’t care anymore. Our only saving grace is that we haven’t encountered a toxic refrigerator.

Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Amy. Whack 1, Whack 2, pass the sledgehammer to Native Chick.

Somehow, all that tile comes down. To the point where we missed how the baby frogs got out. I hope they got out. I’m pretty sure they did.

But here we are, pulling out nails at the top of the wall near the ceiling. I’m on the ladder on top, Native Chick is pulling out the nails on the baseboards.

And I have a hammer in my hand.

I am so tired. She is so tired. This is our last day of work.

And I have a hammer in my hand. And as I’m working on a rusty stubborn nail, it finally flies out with a pop…

And the hammer flies out of my hand.

I yelp. And then I hear a CLUNK that sounds a lot like a helmet. And a tiny “aaaahhhhh!”

I am mortified. I have become a cliché. I have become a cautionary tale. I have thrown a hammer at someone. Something I scoffed at a mere five days ago, I have officially embodied.

The good news is that it was more of a glancing blow, the hammer was not especially large, and Native Chick was wearing her helmet. And she promptly busts out laughing. And I bust out laughing.

You really know who your friends are when you can throw hammers at them and laugh about it. If you ever have to throw a hammer at anyone, you could do no better than Native Chick. Because she is that cool.


1 comment:

Chunky Knubby Navel said...

I don't have that many great friends, or even good friends. So I'm just going to try throwing hammers at everyone tomorrow and see how that goes. I think this is a powerful way to build friendships.