My mother used to make me read as a young boy. She would place me in a well-lit, living room chair and make me read hours at a time. I had been enrolled in a number of book clubs. As time passed, although I would not admit it to her, I began enjoying the things I read. The book clubs that I belonged to consisted of things like biographies, non-fiction work, all-about books and historical figures combined with classical literature like Robinson Crusoe and the Deerslayer.
Out of pure coincidence two of my monthly book club selections were All About Shakespeare and a biography about Shakespeare. I found them both very interesting and from that time forward whenever Shakespeare was mentioned, I listened intently, but growing up in the 50's and 60's with the people I hung out with, it was a secret kept close to the vest.
During my high school years I had the good fortune of attending more than 2-1/2 years of private school, more that 1-1/2 at a local Catholic school and one year of prep school (once again, this is not a euphemism for juvenile detention facility). It was while I attended prep school that I had an instructor, Mr. Hubbard, who taught us how to read and understand the poetry of Shakespeare. "What light through yon window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun." This line is one that caught my attention. I never considered myself a romantic but I could picture some adolescent boy looking up at this beautiful young girl and thinking how her beauty could radiate like the sun. I really thought it was pretty cool.
When I returned to Mohonasen, in their great and wonderful wisdom, they were experimenting with a new English program. Monday's, Wednesdays and Fridays, the entire senior class went to the auditorium for a large lecture. At other periods two or three times a week we were broken up into much smaller groups that were called "seminar". My seminar teacher was the lovely, Miss Quinn.
The rumor on Miss Quinn was that she was a former nun. I didn't know if that was true or not but it sure as hell appeared to be. I don't really remember what it was we were studying but she had asked if anyone wanted to read one of the poems that we had just been assigned out loud. One of the girls volunteered and really did a poor job. I made some stupid comment and Miss Quinn asked me if I felt I could do better. I said "Most definitely."
She asked me to come up in front of the class and read it aloud. I did what she must have felt was an outstanding job with my reading because she stood there looking at me wide-eyed with her mouth wide opened. She came over to me, touched my arm, and said "that was fabulous". I went back to my seat. I remember I sat next to Fred Mastrianni and on the other side of him was JanineTherriault. Janine leaned across Fred and whispered, "I think she may have had an orgasm when she touched you." Fred and I cracked up.
Fred who was a really nice kid was probably the best jock in our class but was not a rocket scientist by any means. He and I decided that we would have a contest to see how many times we could get her to touch us. Each class after that I would always go up to her, touch her shoulder or elbow, get as close as I could and tell her how much I was looking forward to her class. After a few weeks, Fred gave up because I was way too far ahead of him. Miss Quinn almost died the day we did the poem "To His Coy Mistress."
Lets just say the sexual overtones hung in the air....but since it was a Mohonasen classroom, not for everyone. I had no doubt that that year I was Miss Quinn's favorite student. Everything being equal, looking back over the years, she was a very strange ranger but she knew her literature.
Shakespeare is in my life, even today...
"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in its petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time; and all my yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle, life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing."
When daydreaming I think of this Macbeth soliloquy and it somehow feels appropriate for the stage of life that I am in now. The only part that I would disagree with is I feel that my life has indeed been significant. If you cut that line out, it would almost be a good epitaph for me.