January in Atlanta, A Drama in 2 Acts: 2

Act 2, Scene 1: The curtain rises. Saturday. Darkness.

Gradually, some areas of the stage are lit, dimly at first. Most slowly become well-illuminated over the course of a few minutes. Other areas remain dark or ill-lit. 

This appears to be the same set as Act 1. However, as the lighting begins, it becomes obvious this isn’t exactly the same set at all. What appeared in Act 1 to be a neighborhood in Atlanta is now divided into distinct areas. Boundaries are drawn, more or less corresponding with the lighting.

Some areas of the stage are lightly dusted with white powder. Others have several inches or are mostly bare. These patches appear to have no correlation to how the various areas are lit. 

Within each area, ATLANTANS are sleeping. Gradually, they rise. All are wearing heavy clothes — gloves, hats, boots, and sweatshirts. The sweatshirts all bear different lettering, none of which appears to correspond to either the boundaries now drawn on stage, the lighting, or the white powder. (Examples include: ATL: North, OTP; ATL: South, ITP; ATL: West, East Point; AinT’L: Tucker; etc.)

At one end of the stage a sign reads: “Ice Rink closed due to ice.”

At the other end of the stage, a sign reads: “Snow Mountain closed due to snow.”

A WEATHER EXPERT enters. 

WEATHER EXPERT: What you have to understand is that weather-forecasting is a complicated science. If you read into the details …

ATLANTANS begin to boo.

WEATHER EXPERT: … of our five-part hexa-terrific model, you will begin to understand that the patterns that emerged from this storm system are correct to within three decimal places of expectation for …

ATLANTANS continue booing, now drowning out whatever it is that WEATHER EXPERT is saying. 

WEATHER EXPERT: [ad-libbed scientific-sounding phrases that will not be heard]

ATLANTANS boo until WEATHER EXPERT exits the stage. 

In each area, ATLANTA CHILDREN begin to stir and tug at their parents. 

ATLANTA CHILD 1: I want to see the snow!

ATLANTA CHILD 2: Mommy, mommy, snow!

ATLANTA CHILD 3: Daddy, daddy, snow!

ALL ATLANTA CHILDREN: Snow! Snow! Snow!

ATLANTANS in all areas begin to further bundle their children (who are already wearing gloves, hats, boots, and sweatshirts). Scarves, parkas, and heavy outer jackets are applied until all ATLANTA CHILDREN can barely move. Gleefully, the children waddle out to play. 

TV NEWS REPORTERS enter. They jostle one another, fighting for space within each area of the stage in a seemingly random manner. ATLANTANS in each area dance and wave at them, most pointing excitedly at the nearest ATLANTA CHILDREN. Eventually, the TV NEWS REPORTERS are more or less evenly distributed about the stage. The MEME SALESMAN lurks in the background, slinking from area to area with a camera and a notepad. 

TV NEWS REPORTER 1: As you can see here in ATL-OTP-PRIME, #ATLSNOMG2017 has brought nothing but joy!!!!

TV NEWS REPORTER 1 is standing in a well-lit area with mostly very little white powder but a few small mounds. TV NEWS REPORTER 1 grasps handfuls of the white powder and holds them high toward the audience. Nearby ATLANTANS cavort with their children.

TV NEWS REPORTER 2: As you can see here in ATL-ITP-PRIME, #ATLSNOMAGEDDON2017 has had a devastating effect!!!! Inches of snow cover every surface, and some homes are still without power!!!!

TV NEWS REPORTER 2 is standing in a dimly lit area with very little white powder in scattered patches. Nearby ATLANTANS shiver dramatically. Only a few feet away, ATLANTANS in a completely dark area scowl and shake their fists, but you can’t see them. 

TV NEWS REPORTER 3: As you can see here in …

THE GOVERNOR enters, accompanied by HANDLERS, YES-MEN, and THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA.

All TV NEWS REPORTERS stop what they are doing and rush toward THE GOVERNOR. In so doing, some of the TV NEWS REPORTERS comically collide with cavorting ATLANTANS in well-lit areas while others rush past obviously distressed ATLANTANS trying to get attention in dimly-lit areas.

As the TV NEWS REPORTERS approach, HANDLER 1 grasps THE GOVERNOR by the left arm and whispers fervently into his left ear. Immediately, HANDLER 2 grasps his right arm and whispers fervently into his right ear.

THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA brushes imaginary dust off his expensive suit, clears his throat, and approaches TV NEWS REPORTERS, who walk right past him. 

THE GOVERNOR: I am pleased to stand before you and say that our great state has weathered another mighty storm.

 ATLANTANS in completely dark areas continue to scowl and shake their fists, but no one pays them any attention, except HANDLER 2, who glances their way briefly, then shrugs. 

THE GOVERNOR: We have done so thanks to the great leadership of our state officials.

THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA appears upset. He raises his hand. No one pays him any attention. 

THE GOVERNOR: I am pleased to report that power has been restored to most areas, and all businesses are up and running safely.

In the background, GROCERS walk by, each dragging a comically large bag labeled $$$.

THE GOVERNOR: By working diligently throughout the night, our multi-agency strike teams have kept our roads and interstates clear and free of ice and snow. We encourage you not to use them, however.

THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA loudly stomps off the stage.

THE GOVERNOR: GDOT is continuing to monitor the situation and is responding to any and all trouble spots accordingly as those reports come in.

TV NEWS REPORTER 1 wanders off.

THE GOVERNOR: Schools will remain closed at the discretion of local officials.

TV NEWS REPORTER 2 wanders off.

THE GOVERNOR: The State Operations Center will remain active until my Proclamation of Emergency expires at midnight Sunday.

TV NEWS REPORTER 3 wanders off.

THE GOVERNOR: Everything will be fine in time for your commute to work on Monday.

All ATLANTANS groan.

THE GOVERNOR: I urge Georgians to remain cautious, vigilant and patient.

THE GOVERNOR exits, accompanied by HANDLERS and YES-MEN.

—–

Act 2, Scene 2: Saturday evening. The stage is the same as before, only now there is no longer any white powder visible, and the lighting is uniform. 

ATLANTANS sit, dejected, while ATLANTA CHILDREN, now covered in mud, play. 

The MEME SALESMAN wanders the stage, attempting to sell captioned photos of ANGUISHED ATLANTAN, now with added mud snowman and milk sandwiches. 

Curtain.

January in Atlanta, A Drama in 2 Acts: 1

Act 1, Scene 1: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Monday. It is a fine, average day in early January. The sun is shining, and it is in the mid-50s. ATLANTANS enter and meander about the stage. A WEATHER EXPERT enters. 

WEATHER EXPERT: There is a slight chance of winter precipitation across the metro area next weekend. 

ATLANTANS continue to meander about the stage, ignoring WEATHER EXPERT. 

—–

Act 1, Scene 2: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Tuesday. A fine, average day in early January. Partly cloudy. High 40s. ATLANTANS enter and meander about the stage. ATLANTA CHILDREN are bundled like small burritos. 

WEATHER EXPERT: We have updated our five-day forecast, and there is now a strong probability of winter precipitation across the metro area this weekend.

ATLANTANS continue to meander about the stage, ignoring WEATHER EXPERT. 

—–

Act 1, Scene 3: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Wednesday. A slightly cool day in early January. Cloudy. High 40s. When the lights rise, ATLANTANS are already on stage, having woken up an extra hour early to warm their cars. The WEATHER EXPERT enters.

WEATHER EXPERT: As we have been saying …

TV WEATHER CELEBRITY rushes on stage, pursued by TV NEWS HOSTS. WEATHER EXPERT is knocked off-stage in the ensuing kerfuffle. ATLANTANS stop what they were doing and stare.

TV WEATHER CELEBRITY: OMG! Snow this weekend! Snow in Atlanta!

TV NEWS HOSTS: OMG! OMG! Our 24-hour coverage of this event two days hence shall begin immediately!!!! Stay tuned for life-saving severe weather advice!!!!

ATLANTANS: OMG! OMG!

ATLANTANS run about, aimlessly. GROCERS enter, smiling. 

—–

Act 1, Scene 4: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Thursday. A cool day in early January. Cloudy. High 30s. When the lights rise, signs bearing “No Bread” and “No Milk” adorn all shop windows. ANGUISHED ATLANTAN enters, falls to his knees.

ANGUISHED ATLANTAN: Why, God, why?

—–

Act 1, Scene 5: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Friday. A cool day in early January. Cloudy. High 30s. A MEME SALESMAN wanders the stage, attempting to sell captioned photos of ANGUISHED ATLANTAN. THE GOVERNOR enters, accompanied by HANDLERS, YES-MEN, and TV NEWS REPORTERS. 

THE GOVERNOR: It is a fine day in Georgia, and business is wonderful!

YES-MEN nod enthusiastically. 

TV NEWS REPORTER 1: Governor, sir, please, can you tell us how to survive #ATLSNOMG2017!?!?

THE GOVERNOR: I’m sure everything will be fine.

TV NEWS REPORTER 2: Governor, sir, please, have you not seen our non-stop reporting on #ATLSNOMAGEDDON2017!?!?

THE GOVERNOR: Why don’t you report more on our lovely business environment?

TV NEWS REPORTER 3: Governor, sir, are you telling the people they should not be worried about #ATLSNOPOCALYOSE2017!?!?

ATLANTANS lean in, listening intently. 

THE GOVERNOR: Now listen, I’m sure there’s nothing …

HANDLER whispers to THE GOVERNOR.

THE GOVERNOR: … we can’t do to ensure the safety of the people. I shall issue a Proclamation of Emergency!

All frolic. 

Curtain. 

Elementary, My Dear Roger

There’s someone I know — I shall refer to him as “Roger” for anonymity — who has a problem with hats.

Not “a problem with hats” in the sense that he’s a strung-out hat junkie, standing on the corner trying to bum nickels to buy a new cap.

No.

Roger can’t identify hats.

I say this knowing it might be a challenge for just anyone to pick say, a fedora, out of a lineup. And if I were to ask you to identify a snap-brim/C-crown fedora apart from a safari-brim/C-crown, a safari-brim/pinch-crown, a flat-brim/C-crown, a flat-brim/pinch-crown, etc., you might have difficulty.

Or you might walk away thinking that, in fact, I am the one who has a problem with hats.

Roger’s hat-identification problem is rather different.

Think of Sherlock Holmes.

Got a visual?

Let me guess — pipe, Inverness cape, and a distinctive hat, right?

Now, I don’t expect you to know the distinctive hat is called a deerstalker.[1]

Nor do I expect you to know the term “Inverness cape,” and I’ll admit I have trouble remembering that myself.

Finally, were I to set out a fedora, a deerstalker, and an ivy cap — that last post is making sense now, isn’t it? — I would not expect you to necessarily be able to correctly name all of them.[2]

However, I bet if I asked which hat Holmes wore you would point to the deerstalker.

Roger, on the other hand …

In winter, I favor a trench coat and fedora, both in black; this is my standard cold weather garb.

The first time Roger saw me so attired, he remarked, “It’s Sherlock Holmes.”

I looked around to see what the hell he was talking about it.

When I realized he was referring to me, I began to wonder if, perhaps, Roger was a moron.

For reasons I won’t go into, I have to be polite and respectful to Roger, so my response to him was not “Are you a moron?” but more along the lines of “No, sir, Holmes wears something different.” Roger, as he is wont to do, ignored my opinion, confident in his assessment that I was a ringer for the famous detective.

Since that day, Roger has, nearly always, made a similar remark whenever he has seen me so attired. (He, uh, has a thing about repeating himself.)

On occasion, he has said such things in front of other people, who, I am comforted to report, have appeared as baffled as I was the first time. (Other people generally also have to respond to Roger with polite respect, so I’ve had no luck gaining anything other than silent sympathy.)

Obviously, this has been bugging me, mostly because I can’t figure out why Roger looks at me and sees Holmes, unless, perhaps, he is unfamiliar with the popular depiction of the character. Maybe his mental image is based on something odd, like an obscure theater production of a Holmes story, one in which the director creatively re-imagined the detective as a resident of 1920s gangland Chicago.

WATSON: How did you know the murder weapon was a Tommy gun?

HOLMES: Elementary, my dear Watson.[3] Only such a weapon could have delivered so many bullets into the victim in so short a span of time.

The Case of the Mistaken Hat doesn’t end there, though.

While trench coat/fedora is my standard, preferred, way to go about winter, I do occasionally wear other cold weather garb. For example, when called for, I sometimes don a suit. My usual is a grey pinstripe, and I typically top that with a grey fedora.

One fine winter day Roger saw me wearing the suit/fedora combination, whereupon he promptly greeted me as Holmes.

{imagine here the smell of my brain smoking slightly}

I decided to put it all out of my mind, to simply accept a few ignorant comments through the winter, smile politely, move along. Zen.

Then came spring.

In spring and warmer months — which, in Georgia, is most of them — I don’t often wear a fedora, but as winter turns to spring the mornings usually have a slight chill, and on such days I typically wear a light jacket with an ivy cap.

Picture Holmes in his Inverness cape and his deerstalker cap, all in taupe or grey or tan.

Now, picture an ivy cap.

Go back to my previous post, if you must. Stare at that cap good and hard.

Imagine a man wearing that hat with a light, zippered cotton jacket, both in black.

I walked up to Roger in said attire.

“How are you, Mr. Holmes?”

I think I’m going to buy a fez, just to see where this goes.

—–

1 — You may know, however, that Arthur Conan Doyle never described any of these, save the pipe, in his Holmes stories; the popular image of the character comes from illustrations, TV, and film. In some of these, he wears a greatcoat, not an Inverness cape, but the look is very similar about the shoulders.

2 — Or maybe you would, but you’d call the ivy cap by one of its many other names, such as newsboy cap, 8/4 cap, baker boy cap, etc.

3 — You probably know Doyle never wrote Holmes speaking that phrase. That’s from TV and film. While I’m rambling here in a footnote, let me say I rather enjoyed the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film, if only because that phrase ain’t in it. Also, Holmes and Watson are much livelier characters, not the stilted fellows so often portrayed in film. Also, to kind of get back to the point, the hats are pretty good in that film.