11.22.2005

I Explain My Secret Crush

Everybody has an embarrassing crush on someone, right? Like, didn't you, after Dirty Dancing came out, totally want to get with Patrick Swayze? I didn't; Swayze was, then at least, waaaay to old for me, not to mention married. Not that I'm judging, since at the time I was in love with Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: the Next Generation. Look, I've got skeletons too.

Still, a Wil Wheaton crush will be understandable to a certain demographic, maybe. (I should say here that I am totally over that, and have been for many years; QUIT JUDGING ME INTERNET!).

However, my REAL secret crush is a little ... weird. And, actually, not quite as secret as I'm making it out to be.

First, you should know by now that I am an English nerd. I love the literature of the pre-history era (which: animated Beowulf? I am so there!), the 1400s the 1500s, the 1600s, the 1700s, the 1800s, and some of the 1900s--though Faulkner can bite me--and I am warming up to the 2000s with the help of Oprah.

I can diagram a sentence within an inch of its life, I know a good bit of the MLA method of citation by heart, and I even love (whisper) grammar. I have a good bit of shame over that last one, but I am slowly but surely raising my head high and making a t-shirt that says, "I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ADJECTIVES AND ADVERBS!"

My point is that I really do love the study of the language arts. I love to read it; I love to talk about it; I love to teach it.

Which is why you should maybe not be so surprised if I tell you that my secret crush is one Master William Shakespeare.

Oh, shut up; it's not THAT strange.

I will say, however, that if I go out with a guy, and he's like, "I hate Shakespeare!" I totally know from that moment that nothing will happen between us, except that I might punch him in the face. I would totally be that ONE PERSON who starts a brawl while debating whether or not Shakespeare wrote all of his own plays. (My opinion: yes, and I'll be hearing no others).

So, Shakespeare. How'd that happen? To be honest, I ... have no idea. When I was in high school, I would have eaten glass before I voluntarily read any of his plays. (For the record, Randomville High School is still teaching the trifecta that I read: Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth.) I HATED those plays. To tell the truth, they're still not my absolute favorites (those would be Richard III, Othello, and Twelfth Night, for you Nosy Parkers out there), but I have grown to appreciate them more and more as I get older.

I think the secret lies in how you're taught.

R&J, for example, I was taught through the use of records that were roughly 900 years old. My teacher didn't explain anything that was being said (and, at 14, how was I supposed to know what they were saying?). The play itself is fairly depressing and the ending is a downer.

Julius Caesar, my teacher taught AGAIN with records, though she also showed us a movie version, which I tried to sleep through but couldn't. Not because it was so exciting, but because I have this fear that if I fall asleep in public I will drool all over myself.

I "read" Macbeth during my senior year, and it was a little more exciting, what with the witches and the blood and the beheadings, but still not, you know, GREAT.

And then I went to college.

I had the most fantastic Shakespeare teacher at my university. Her name is Dr. Jennie Cooper and she is one of the best teachers I've ever had PERIOD. Dr. Cooper was the kind of person who could make anything exciting, and I took every class she taught. If she'd taught chemistry, I would have taken it--and EXCELLED; she was that good.

Dr. Cooper did not shy away from anything in her classes. She told us all the dirty things Shakespeare put in his plays, and perhaps most importantly, she made the plays RELEVANT.

And as much as I love the plays, I believe I might love Shakespeare, the man, even more. Whenever I teach about Shakespeare, I HAVE to talk about his biography. His life was pretty mundane, maybe, for his first 18 years, but then it got exciting in a hurry: shotgun wedding, possible poaching allegations, the death of his son, traveling theater companies, performing for the Queen, and on and on and on and on. He was even interesting AFTER his death: leaving his wife his "second best bed," and putting a curse on his tombstone. That is AWESOME.

So anyway, I love William Shakespeare. I try to tone it down a little when I am teaching about him, because my kids already think I'm a little ... off ... on account of I'm 30 and unmarried and have a cat. Imagine their faces if they knew I'm just waiting for a random guy to speak to me in blank verse and like, soliloquize his love for me under a balcony. Or knock me up and run off to London (hee).

1 comment:

The School Girl said...

I had a superb American Literature teacher - Dr. Nancy Dixon. That Saturday morning class was so much fun, not only because the students were mature (read: older), but mainly because Dr. Dixon would preface the literature pieces with the biography of the authors. Of course, she highlighted scandal to make it more tantalizing.

In Ninth Grade I had a wonderful English teacher - Gordon Bruce Elliott. He was amazing. Because of him I learned how much fun it was to diagram sentences and I actually enjoyed Shakespeare.

I plan to teach at the elementary level, but I hope to be as engaging and passionate as those two teachers.

 

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