Monday, June 6, 2011

Thanks, Mr. Job

This week’s RemembeRED prompt: As the school year is wrapping up and we're on the cusp of summer, we've decided to go easy on you.  

We want to know what, from your childhood, do you still know by heart?

It was spring of junior year and my high school classmates and I were deep into studying Shakespeare with Mr. Job (pronounced the same way as the biblical guy, not the place you go each day to earn a living). Young, cute and exceedingly devoted to his students, our teacher provided an engaging introduction to the Bard of Avon.  (I still can see the signature shake of his head that flicked a cowlick out of his eyes, the better to see his own southpaw chicken scratch on the blackboard.)

One of our assignments that semester was to select and memorize a passage from among the many we read in Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. As a result, to this day I still can recite from memory this famous soliloquy from Macbeth:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's 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.
In the three decades since I sat in that class, many other terrific memories have stayed with me.  The best, by far, is that of our celebration of the Bard’s birthday, which we marked in 1980 on Wednesday, April 23, the accepted date for his birth, which actually is unknown. Complete with hats--the pointy ones with under-the-chin rubber bands to hold them in place--our celebration also included a thickly frosted birthday cake adorned with sugary roses and inscribed “Happy Birthday, Will” and our choice of a red (grape juice) or white (milk) beverage.  We rounded out the festivities with a hearty toast to Will and individualized recitations of our memorized passage--each one a personal tribute to the guest of honor.

Nearly a decade after that 1980 birthday party, I mailed a postcard from Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon to Mr. Job back at the high school.  It was, I believe, my own personal tribute to the man who not only brought Shakespeare to life, but who also nurtured in me a love of literature that I carry with me to this day.

Remembe(RED) is the memoir meme of The Red Dress Club.  Thanks for reading...and feel free to offer thoughts, ideas and/or constructive criticism.  I appreciate hearing what you have to say.

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