I’m superstitious about numbers. I prefer even to odd, unless the numbers match, like 33, or they are sequenced in order, like 456. If the digital clock in my living room reads 2:22 or 4:44, I jump around like I’ve just won something on a game show. Well, today was Shakespeare’s birthday. The bard’s age, 456, warranted a rich abundance of celebratory jumping, not to mention delusions of game show giveaways. (Come on down!) I think I won a green vintage refrigerator full of beer, a set of golf clubs, and a massage chair that looks like a catcher’s mitt. I don’t golf, but I’m sure the set of clubs will find a home. The refrigerator full of beer is right up my alley, and I look forward to being massaged in a baseball glove. All great prizes. Thanks, delusional game show!
Though I meant to cast off my nighted color, I couldn’t be bothered to change out of my black dress. I made chocolate chip pancakes in honor of Shakespeare’s birthday, framed my mind to mirth and merriment, and increased my daily writing goal from 260 words to 400. It seemed luck was in the air. I’m feeling good about my life. I’m happy to be single, even if I did recklessly condemn a few ex-boyfriends to nunneries.
With so much time to sit and ponder, I’ve recognized a pattern of Gertrudes who have come into my life. I’ve been patient with these Gertrudes, although I’m secretly repulsed by their frailty. I am so glad I am not a Gertrude. A Gertrude is a woman who is dependent on men, no matter how horrible they are. All Gertrudes are miserable. How many times have I given advice similar to the advice Hamlet gave his mother? “Refrain tonight. And that shall lend a kind of easiness. To the next abstinence, the next more easy.” I feel empathy for people quarantined with romantic partners who are driving them crazy, but I am done giving advice.
Tonight, my family read our favorite Shakespeare over Zoom. My brother Cory recited Sonnet 34, which is basically Shakespeare calling out someone for giving a false weather report. It rained and Shakespeare went out without his cloak! I’d write an angry sonnet, too, if that happened to me. I read Juliet’s Farewell speech in the voice of Bernie Sanders, and my mom recited “Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I” followed by “To be or not to be” in Turkish. She switched from a panama hat to a fez because apparently the right headgear was imperative for each performance. My mom figured out how to turn her screen upside down, so for a while we had a wacky, upside down, Turkish-speaking Shakespeare nut. My brother turned his baby, Octavia, upside down, too. Both grandma and baby created a chorus of giggles, and I just smiled, right-side up, appreciating my super weird family.
The whole world is upside down right now, but we can still find plenty to celebrate. Shakespeare lived through the plague and wrote King Lear in quarantine. We should all strive to be a little more like him. Happy birthday, Shakespeare.