"Your mother hath a most excellent idea," I say. "Tonight, good children, we will celebrate the birthday of the world's most celebrated playwright.
"If it please you," I continue, "I have a selection of videos featuring the plays of William Shakespeare, who was born 445 years ago this week."
"Oh god," says the teenager. "I am watching SportsCenter."
"Such carping is not commendable," I say. "I pray you, whine not. Besides," I say, "did you know that Mayor Richard Daley issued a proclamation establishing today 'Speak Like Shakespeare Day' throughout the city?"
Then I roll out my best hope for engaging his interest: "The vendors at Wrigley Field were calling out 'to drink or not to drink'. And the Cubs' loss to the Reds was declared a tragedy."
But he only rolls his eyes. It is the same reaction I get every Wednesday since establishing "Cooking with the New York Times Dining Section Night." Which my family likes to call "beets and goat cheese night." But that is another story.
Tonight's exercise in unappreciation and futility (love's labor's lost?) is cultural, not culinary.
Stand I condemn'd for my effort to establish one night a week in which the children are not eating Arby's in front of an episode of Family Guy? Usually, yes.
But on this occasion, as on so many others, my efforts are rescued by the boundless enthusiasm of a fifth-grade girl, who reads along from the text while watching Romeo and Juliet, and who, it turns out, has a fifth-grade girl's appreciation for Leonardo DiCaprio and a knack for Elizabethan English.
"I bite my thumb at you sir," she tells me when I interrupt once too often with an unnecessary translation.
Later she offers this observation of Juliet's decision-making skills: "She's known him for like two days!"
I am well pleased.
Photo: Romeo, Romeo.