"Marvin and Malcolm"

            This skit involves two characters and a narrator. The first, Marvin, is a stereotypical nerd. Think "Mr. Bean." He enters at the beginning, with the narrator to the side, and pantomimes his part - coming up with his own actives to illustrate the narrative. The second enters halfway through, and likewise thinks up his own pantomime. Props are optional. If chosen, however, the simplest might be a tool-belt and hammer for each character. Marvin could also play up the role by pulling up his pants absurdly high, have a pocket-protector overflowing with pens, and nerdish glasses with tape holding them together. The rest is up to the imagination.


            Once upon a time there was a fellow named Marvin. Marvin was an accountant, which meant that every day he sat behind a desk with a calculator and added, and subtracted, and divided all sorts of numbers. And he liked doing it. In fact, he was really good at it, so much so that he made a comfortable living out of it.

            As good as he was with numbers, though, he was all thumbs when it came to doing things with his hands. A calculator was one thing, a hammer was another. He knew what to do with a calculator. He hadnít a clue what to do with a hammer, or a saw, or a ... Well, do you get the picture?

            Therefore, it came as quite a surprise to him when one day someone in church asked him if he wouldnít like to help build a house for some poor people who needed one.

            "Me, build a house?" he thought. "I canít do something like that." Besides, he didnít know anyone who was poor. Why should he help someone he didnít know? People were all the time trying to get something for nothing, looking for a handout. He often passed someone like this on his way to work, or so he thought. There was that guy at the corner of Second and Green streets, with a sign: "I lost my job. Please help." Seeing this guy there every day, Marvin figured he had a job - a job begging.

            It wasnít that Marvin was a mean man. Itís just that he didnít know, personally, anyone who was poor, anyone who didnít have a home. He gave money to all sorts of charities to help such people. However, he had never met one.

            Well, about this suggestion that he, personally, help some poor person build a house - he just laughed ... at first. That wasnít something he could see himself doing. Maybe heíd give money to it, but he couldnít imagine actually getting involved. After all, he was an accountant. Put a hammer in his hand and watch out. He might tear down the house rather than build it.

            You know what, though? The more he thought about it, the more the idea grew in his head. He started imagining himself as a builder. The was something "manly" about wearing a tool belt. He even walked into a hardware store one day and up and bought one, along with a hammer. He didnít really know how to use it, but he liked how it felt.

            Well, you can probably guess what happened. One day, when someone in church again suggested that he help build a house for a poor family - instead of saying, "No," he said, "Yes."

            Thatís how Marvin found himself at 501 Apple Avenue. Having signed up with the local Habitat for Humanity group, he was sent there. He had his new, and as yet unused, tool-belt, and his hammer. He didnít know how to use it, but he looked quite handsome with it on, if he did say so himself.

            There were a lot of other people there. The supervisor gave them all a talk about what they were doing, to which Marvin listened intently. The supervisor mentioned how, when a hurricane went through southern Florida, many of the houses that were left standing were built by Habitat volunteers. That was because the volunteers often didnít completely know what they were supposed to be doing, and hammered in many more nails than contractors usually used.

            While Marvin was excited this first day on the job, he had no idea what he should do. The supervisor must have guessed this by the blank look in Marvinís eyeís. "Why donít you work with Malcolm here," the supervisor suggested. "Heíll show you the ropes."

            At first, you understand, Marvin didnít even know what end of the hammer he should use. Of course he knew what the handle was for, but the other end was a mystery. Malcolm patiently explained that one side, the claw, was for pulling nails out, not hammering them in. It was the other side that was used to put nails in. Malcolm had Marvin practice on scraps of wood that were lying about. And then he handed Marvin a nail.

            "Whatís this?" Marvin asked. Again, Malcolm patiently explained what was done with the nail. Malcolm did not make Marvin feel stupid. He was a very good teacher. Marvin started to really like this guy.

            Practicing with a nail was not a pain-free experience. Holding a nail as you learn to pound it can lead to bruised fingers when the hammer misses the mark. Marvin wasnít all that accurate at first. He missed more than he hit. One piece of wisdom that Malcolm passed on to Marvin what that Marvin should keep his eyes open when he hammered. His success rate dramatically increased!

            After a great deal of coaching, Marvin graduated up to working on the house itself. He and Malcolm worked side by side. As they worked, they talked about their families. Malcolm had four children, of whom he was very proud. During a break, he showed Marvin a picture of them he had in his pocket. Marvin then pulled out his wallet and showed Malcolm a phot of his dog, Fido.

            Marvin and Malcolm, as they worked together, became friends. Funny thing was - before that morning they had been strangers. If they had met on the street, Marvin wouldnít have known Malcolm from Adam. Now they were not only co-workers, they were friends. Marvin had a warm feeling in his heart. He was thinking about inviting Malcolm and his family to his house for a cook-out..

            At the end of the day, the supervisor called everyone together and thanked them for helping out. Marvin felt very proud. Then the supervisor asked Malcolm if he wanted to say anything to everyone. After all, Malcolm was to be the new owner of this house.

            Marvin did a double-take. All of a sudden he didnít know what to think. He started looking at Malcolm in a different way. All along he had thought that Malcolm was a volunteer, just like him. Now he knew the truth. Malcolm was the poor person for whom they had been building this house all day.

            As people started to leave, Marvin went over to Malcolm and asked why he didnít tell him who he was. "I did tell you who I was," Malcolm replied. "I told you my name, and even showed you pictures of my family.

            "But you didnít tell me that this was going to be your house," Marvin said.

            "I didnít think it matters," Malcolm responded. "Would you have worked on it any different?"

            "Well, no," answered Marvin. "I suppose not."

            "Working with you in building this house is one of the ways I help pay for it," Malcolm continued. "Itís called Ďsweat equity.í I put my own sweat and effort into it. I also promise to be a volunteer and help build someone elseís house. Donít worry, Iíll also pay for it. I donít want a handout. I donít want something for nothing. Itís just that we couldnít afford a home if it werenít for Habitat. My four boys canít wait to move out of the two bedroom apartment we currently are renting."

            "Iím sorry," said Marvin. "I just didnít know who you were."

            "Well, now you do," Malcolm replied. "Does that change anything?"

            "I guess not," said Marvin. And then he remembered something heíd been thinking earlier. "By the way, Malcolm, would you and your family like to come over to my place for a cookout tomorrow evening? I may be a beginner when it comes to a hammer, but I can grill a pretty good hamburger. Besides, Fido would love to play with a bunch of boys."

            "Weíd be honored," said Malcolm. And so began the team of Marvin and Malcolm.

©2003, Peter L. Haynes

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