I Warned You Not to Touch That

Tag: shakespeare

Famous

by on Nov.20, 2009, under Essays

My editor sent me an email.  She wanted to make sure I knew Shakespeare would be speaking in Tampa.  The news represented progress.  A few months earlier, she’d never heard of him.  This despite many weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and numerous published works to his credit.  She told me classic literature wasn’t her genre.

My primary problem with Mr. Shakespeare is his use of language.  It’s deplorable.  I’ve been around long enough to know there’s a direct and indirect way to say something.  Can he be any less direct?  I hate his blather.

O Romeo, Romeo!  Wherefore art thou Romeo?

Cut to the chase.  “Romeo, where are you?”  That wasn’t so hard.  What a hack! 

Consider this drivel:

Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a boy, as a squash is before ‘tis a peascod, or a codling when ‘tis almost an apple.

A codling is a baby apple?  I’ve heard of a codpiece but never a peascod.  It sounds more indecent than codpiece. 

The funny thing is, no one ever complains about Shakespeare.  Is he some sort of sacred cow?  I think his writing is a comedy of errors.  Much as he troubles me, I had to spend the money to see him.  I wanted to know what he wore to these gigs.  Would he don something Elizabethan or go with a more contemporary look?  Perhaps a smoking jacket, ascot, and pipe.  What could he possibly have to say?  I worried the evening might be much ado about nothing. 

Perhaps he’d offer insights about, “the ending I didn’t choose.”  That would interest me.  The alternate ending to Romeo and Juliet.  Juliet wakes up just in time to give Romeo CPR?  Instead of drinking hemlock, they get hammered with ale until oak-cleaving thunderbolts singe their heads.  I think he needs to pay attention to two words that have guided Hollywood for ages.  Happy endings.

This guy is a literary morgue tour.  How much tragedy does he think people can handle?  Consider what would be the television equivalent of these fateful writings.  Some talk show or reality program that makes its money on the suffering of others.  The nightly news?  That’s almost cheating it’s so obvious.  Speaking of cheating, what about Cheaters?  For my money, the deception is the best part of the show.  I love when the wife calls the husband to see how he’s doing.  It’s always when hubby has his lover right next to him in the motel room.

           Wife:               Hey, how are you?

            Hubby:             Pretty good and you?

            Wife:               I’m okay.  When are you going to be home?

    Hubby:             I thought I’d be there by now but I’ve been trying to finish my proposal to give the merchant of Venice.

I love being in on the secret.  Of course, the wife is well aware hubby is involved with the taming of the shrew.  She feeds him additional rope to hang himself:

I wish we got to see more of each other.  It seems like you’re always gone lately.  This is the twelfth night you’ve worked late.

Maybe hubby enjoys the deception too.  He answers:

I know.  The two gentlemen of Verona have been hounding me.  If I can just make it through the next month, I promise to make everything as you like it.

His sweet concessions are a waste of airtime.  His fate sealed.  Love’s labor’s lost.

I think Mr. Shakespeare would reach a far wider audience if he dumped the Elizabethan shtick and got with the times.  Write about subjects that interest today’s readers.  Like weight loss.  Here’s a topic most people read about.  If he did some before and after photos, he could call the book Measure for Measure.  The Tempest?  With a name like that, no one will grab it off the discount table.  Jazz it up.  Try something new and compelling like, My Hurricane Katrina Nightmare.  No one knows where Windsor is.  Go with, The Merry Wives of Orange County.  The key is to lighten up.  Start speaking plainly.  Get a blog going.  With a name as catchy as Shakespeare, it won’t be long before people will know it from every city to hamlet.

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