Shakespeare's Birthday 2009: The announcement is greeted with much skepticism and not a few groans.
"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.
Be assured, dear lady, that this tale will be an oft-told one in years hence, and thou will be remembered as the queen.
Posted by: Cactus Petunia | April 24, 2009 at 10:12 PM
Sorry, I see you more as a Chaucer chick.
Posted by: Sue | April 27, 2009 at 12:02 PM
The Folger Library has a kids section "Barbs from the Bard". We call it dirty word Shakespeare, or "new ways to insult your sibling" - kids love it! Here's the link: http://www.folger.edu/documents/KidInsults.pdf
Posted by: Ellen | April 27, 2009 at 01:06 PM
That is a great link. My fifth-grade Shakespearean thanks you! She has already called me a "peevish, mad-bred rabbit sucker."
Posted by: Suburban Kamikaze | April 27, 2009 at 03:30 PM
Juliet: Didst thou try to copist the feel?
Romeo: I wouldn’t dare touch the royal tomatoes.
Juliet: Then why for ist thy hands placed upon my bossoms?
Romeo: My dear lady, I intendth only to lendth support.
Juliet: Very well, if you must, lower.
Romeo: My lady, didst thou place thy hand into the pocket of my pantaloon?
Romeo: And what for ist my dearest lady after?
Juliet: Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.
Romeo: If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Juliet: Oh Baby!
Posted by: Audubon Ron | April 28, 2009 at 08:16 PM
Thou hast made me laugh out loud. I thanketh thee.
Posted by: dianeinjapan | April 28, 2009 at 11:20 PM