Because It’s Harper Lee’s Birthday…

It was the summer before eighth grade. I was flying from Chicago to Los Angeles after having spent a week with my grandparents. I was traveling alone, and since there had been an empty seat in first class, the flight attendant in charge of watching me let me sit in it. There was an old man in the seat next to me. Before I could pull my headphones and discman out of my backpack he said, “Hi, I’m Greg.”

He was easy to talk to. He asked me questions about school and life. I told him I was about to start my second year at a private all girls’ school. I told him I didn’t love it, but I loved some of my classes. My favorite was English. He asked me about my favorite books. I had two favorites at the time.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “My very favorite book is “To Kill A Mockingbird.” I have read it twice. I also really love Animal House.”

Greg: “Animal House?”

Me: “Yeah! You haven’t read it? It’ s so good. There are these pigs on this farm and they get all the animals to revel against the farmers…”

Greg: “Do you mean “Animal Farm”?

Me: “Oh yeah. Animal Farm.”

Greg: “That is a good book.”

Me: “Yeah, but I like “To Kill A Mockingbird” even more.”

Greg: “Why?”

Me: “It’s good at showing how stupid racism is.”

Greg: “Who is your favorite character?”

Me: “Well I love Scout and Atticus and Boo. Atticus is really good and fair. People are afraid of Boo, but then he turns out to be a good guy and I love that part where Scout wears a ham costume. That is my favorite part!”

I don’t think Greg had ever heard anyone else say that was their favorite part of “To Kill A Mockingbird”, but he agreed that it was pretty funny. He asked if I had seen the movie. I told him I had and I really liked it. We talked about our favorite movies. I know we talked about Terminator 2 for a while. We talked a lot. The whole flight. I never took my discman out of my bag.

When we arrived, my mom was waiting for me at the gate. I ran over and hugged her. As Greg walked past us, he said “Bye charlotte, nice talking to you.”

“Bye Greg!” I said.

My mom stared at me in disbelief. “Charlotte,” she said.


“That was Gregory Peck.”


“Atticus Finch.”


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