Every time I spend a serious amount of time studying a work of literature that I am going to teach, I suddenly find that work of literature–or the author–everywhere.
The first time I taught Lord of the Flies, I found references to the book (while randomly channel surfing) in Seinfeld, That 70’s Show, and The Simpsons.
Of Mice and Men? Shawn and Gus used George and Lennie as a cover in an episode of USA’s Psych.
Today, Shakespeare pushed himself into my life twice when I was not seeking him.
After eating out for lunch and running a few errands, I found myself at home with about thirty minutes to spare before I had to dash back out to meet my husband. I decided to flip on the TV and listen to it while I put away the dishes. I found a show–which I didn’t realize was ending–and went about tackling my chore.
As I did so, my ears suddenly perked up.
NARRATOR: For extra credit, Mrs. Snyder used to make us act out all the parts. Sal Scafarillo was Romeo. As fate would have it, I was Juliet. Most of the girls were green with envy. I wasn’t. I told Ms. Snyder that Juliet was an idiot. For one thing, she falls for the one guy she knows she can’t have. Everyone thinks it’s so romantic: Romeo and Juliet, true love…how sad. If Juliet was stupid enough to fall for the enemy, drink a bottle of poison, and go to sleep in a mausoleum, then she deserved everything she got.
What is this? I thought, while I was at the same time amused at the fact that Romeo and Juliet was starting to pop into my life unexpectedly. (It took me a while to figure out that the show was Grey’s Anatomy.)
Fast forward a few hours.
Now, one of my very favorite shows on NPR is Radiolab. I find it fascinating. While most people at the gym are listening to music that pumps them up and gets them moving faster, I’m listening to Radiolab podcasts and trying not to speak my astonished reactions aloud for all to hear.
This afternoon, I randomly happened upon an episode called “Words” (Monday, August 9, 2010). In one segment, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich go to Columbia University to speak to a Shakespearean scholar. They discuss how language is a “combinatorial thing” and go on to discuss the words and phrases that Shakespeare first wrote that have stuck with us. It–as usual–was captivating.
So, as it begins again, I wonder: How else is Shakespeare going to pop into my life unexpectedly in these next few months?