A few days before the New Year Chippy and I spent the day studying Shakespeare.
In the morning we looked through “Shakespeare’s Complete Works” from my college days at the University of Texas, complete with my teenage marginalia.
Then, I asked Chippy to read from the balcony scene in “Romeo and Juliet,” and later that evening we watched the scene from the 1996 version by Baz Luhrmann with Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio (for some inexplicable reason I don’t own the magnificent Zefferelli version).
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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That afternoon we headed to downtown DC to the Folger Shakespeare Library on the mistaken assumption it would house a Shakespeare exhibition. What we did find, which made the trip worthwhile, was a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623).
The volume was displayed in a glass case, but a number of its pages were accessible in a digitalized format so sensitive to the touch that Apple’s Steve Jobs would have been impressed.
We found the balcony scene from “Romeo and Juliet” and I helped Chippy read the same speeches he had read that morning, but this time from Shakespeare’s first published text, now nearly 400 years old.
All of this is merely a prolegomena to the story I have to tell about this past Valentine’s Day. It’s a story I heard only this morning at the local IHOP where Chippy and I had breakfast.
He asked me if I had a girlfriend in 6th grade. I said, “No.” He smiled saying that he was “the first Hudson to have a girlfriend in 6th grade!”
Then he told me what he gave his “girlfriend” on Valentine’s Day. I paraphrase:
We went outside after band, and I asked her to stand on a table. I got on my knees and read to her from Romeo and Juliet, you know, from the balcony scene, except I changed the names Romeo and Juliet to Chippy and D____. Then I gave her the piece of paper where I’d written the lines, and on the back I wrote, ‘from Chippy to D_____.’
In 6th grade I didn’t have anything like the courage of my son. I had my first crush, on a beautiful redhead named Leigh Ann. I left a box of candy at her front door on Valentine’s Day and ran as fast as possible down the street, afraid to look back and see the door opening.
I guess that’s why I didn’t have a 6th grade girlfriend and Chippy does.