The Play’s (and the guest blogger’s) The Thing…
A few months ago I began asking some of my friends what they wanted to be when they grew up. You wouldn’t believe how many people wanted to be marine biologists as kids. Or race car drivers, spies (me) and there was even one friend who wanted to take care of light houses. I’m still debating if I want him to get an invite to my island of castaways, primarily because I’m not sure any of us would want to be found if we were actually casted away.
But in asking what we wanted to be, I started to think about the careers we have chosen. We’re a varied bunch of professional sounding things like accountants and lawyers and bankers and the like, but what drew us all together was a love of the written word.
Now, don’t get me wrong, none of us really writes exactly the same, but we’re writing (and reading) on a regular basis and that’s why I wanted to bring to you, my friends, some of my other friends.
I didn’t ask them to write like me or write like anyone else, I have just asked that they think about something about which they have a passion and perhaps give us a few minutes of their time to let us in on the secret that keeps them smiling when no one else is looking.
So, without further adieu…I bring to you my first guest writer and friend…Rex. Rex, take it away…
I am hoping I can convince you of something about Shakespeare. Yes, Shakespeare. It is ALL about sex. Yes there are great characters, yes there can be beautiful language, yes there is blood, vengeance, pride, and epic falls to rival mythology or even TV dance shows but make no mistake: Shakespeare is about sex.
No, not just eyes-closed, under-the-sheets, Victorian sex. Kinky, naughty, perverse and wide-open-just-plain-do-me-now sex. It is everywhere in Shakespeare. One of my personal favorites is Titus Andronicus. Now, eventually this play gets very bloody and very (very) bad for women–think Grand Theft Auto meets Saw. But, early on there is a great scene where these two mookie guys are talking to their mom’s lover (wait, that’s not the hot part) about how to find women to hook up with. I know, right? They both are fighting over this one girl when Aaron (their Mom’s boy toy) steps and sets them straight. So there I am, eating lunch in a nice businessman’s diner and this Aaron guy starts giving advice to his FB’s sons telling them they should go after married women.
What, man! more water glideth by the mill
Than wots [knows] the miller of; and easy it is
Of a cut loaf to steal a shive [slice], we know…
Allow me to translate. A dude generally has no idea what his wife is doing and if you are going to try and get some, get something that someone else has already sampled. Or to translate further: MILF’s rock. Four hundred years before the Kardashians were doing anything but sheep herding, when the Jersey Shore was just the shore, and a cougar was something that would kill you in the forest, Shakespeare was putting this stuff in his plays. And you fell asleep in English class.
Sometimes the play is openly about sex. Take Measure for Measure. A stuffy mayor named Angelo is going to have someone executed for banging and knocking up his girlfriend before they are engaged. All the protests about how the city would be emptied if you executed everybody who messed around fall on deaf ears. Angelo is completely moral and by-the-book. The poor “criminal” turns to his sister Isabella who is also very moral and asks her plead for his life to Angelo. Now it turns out Isabella is also wicked hot, like Jessica Alba having Brigitte Bardot’s (kids, go look her up) love child kind of hot. She shows up to see Angelo; prim, proper and minister’s-daughter sexy. Suddenly Angelo wants nothing but a piece of Isabella and goes completely sex-site goofy over getting her in bed. It is a god-damned Betty Boop cartoon as he practically chases her around the office and Isabella has to think of some way to get this guy laid without giving it up herself.
Sure you can sit on your train and read a Twilight book or a romance novel but every body will know what you are reading. There is a reverse-exhibitionist thrill to be sitting there with a prim little copy of Twelfth Night and having no one know that the two female leads are hot for each other but only because one is a cross-dresser. I have had people come up and literally compliment me for reading a “good book” while a character is going on at great length about exactly how big a slut his mother is (yo, Gertrude, call me, okay?). It is a weird and kind of dirty (nice dirty, of course) feeling.
Granted, it is not “I never thought I would be writing to your magazine” sex but it is everywhere. King Lear tells people not to be too harsh on sex fiends just because they are doing what people secretly want to do themselves (hello GOP congressmen and church leaders). Iago, the bad guy in Othello, brings down a half dozen good and decent men because he is sure they have all screwed around with his wife. Plump cooks chasing men around town in Comedy of Errors. Love potions and even some donkey references in Midsummer Night’s Dream. Free love in the forest in As You Like It. Brothels, harlots, whores, the men who love them and, of course, everyone’s favorite precocious teen hook-up artists: Romeo and Juliet.
Go ahead, pick up a play. Give it a shot. Read the notes defining all those old words and remember, if it seems like characters are talking about beasts with two backs, just remember Rex sent you…