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Saturday, January 30, 2016


Sometimes fun or fond memories come to us in the most unusual ways. We smell a flower or hear a song or see the way the sunlight comes slanting through a window, and suddenly are feeling a changed mood or reliving a moment from our past. This memory didn't happen that way. I was sitting and playing an aggravating but satisfying word game on my computer, and suddenly it was in my mind. "I need to write myself a note about this," I thought, "I don't want to forget to write about it." Naturally, I forgot to make that note, and shortly after I awoke this morning I was remembering that there was something I had wanted to write about tonight. But what was it? 

I could remember thinking that I should make a note of the subject, but deciding that there was no way that I would forget this one. Hah! I decided to go into the room that seems to hold all of the great ideas, AKA The Bathroom. I'm still convinced that there is something magical in all of that plumbing that gives people great ideas and also wipes them out when they leave the enchanted zone created by the plumbing. The water in the walls and floor did their magic, and I was once again smiling over a moment from my past.

During the first semester of my Senior year in high school, one of my favorite classes was my Shakespeare class. Our teacher, who was also the drama teacher and director of all of the school plays, was well-versed in this subject and helped nurture our love for this poet and playwright. Although he never brought up the subject, our hearts were broken for him because he had endured a terrible tragedy the summer before the class started. He and his wife had left their two daughters with Grandma and Grandpa for a visit. The four of them, along with many others, were killed by a flash flood in the Big Thompson Canyon. After a four-hour storm that dropped more than twelve inches of rain, the river changed from an average depth of eighteen inches to a twenty-foot wall of water. It happened so quickly that many victims had no time to climb to safety, and over 140 people perished and more than 150 were injured. Due to the force of the flood, some of the bodies were never found.

We learned so much from Mr. Rogers that fall and many of us developed a great love of Shakespeare's works. One of our assignments was to memorize a sonnet which would be performed in the theater in front of our classmates. Naturally all of my friends nabbed the most famous ones right away, and I ended up loving and choosing Sonnet number 34, which I still have memorized to this day.

Sonnet XXXIV

Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o'ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
'Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak
That heals the wound and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss:
The offender's sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence's cross.
Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.

Another thing that we all loved (most of my friends and fellow classmates were theater kids) was memorizing scenes from the play A Midsummer Night's Dream. We were allowed to perform this abbreviated form of the play to a larger audience of whichever students wished to attend during classes. 

My character was a young woman who found herself in love with a man who loved someone else. Due to the spells of some mischievous fairies, she finds herself the object of two young men's affections. They follow her around proclaiming their love for her. The two young men who played the parts, both of whom I had crushes on at one point or another, tried their best to embarrass or fluster me in the scene. They would flutter around me like bees flirting with a flower. I knew I had to find a way to exact some revenge, and began to plot their payback.

On the day that we performed, I wore a dress that I had sewn for a wedding in which I was a bridesmaid. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't a monstrosity that could never be seen in public again. It was a darkish blue with soft circular spots of colors that reminded me of outer space. It had a scooped neckline and a collar/sleeves combination of flowy fabric that matched the print of the dress but was a sheer, light fabric. It made me feel pretty. When Jon and Paul started their lovestruck flirting scene, trying to steal kisses and touching my arms and such, I (or my character, I should say) began to cry at their unwanted and unrelenting advances.

I stuck my hand down into my bosom and rooted around for the hankie I had stowed in my brassiere earlier. As I made obvious and comic use of it, the boys recovered from their surprise and we finished our scene to uproarious applause. I knew from the look in their eyes that they appreciated my ability to deal with their obvious plot to try and fluster me, and my moment of one-upmanship. It was one of the most delightful moments of my school year.

I haven't seen either of those former classmates in many years, but I hope that they remember those days of our youth and friendship fondly. I still love the works of William Shakespeare, and I know that this is partly due to everything I learned from Mr. Rogers. He took a leave of absence the following semester, but he never took a leave from our hearts, and I hope that he has found some respite from his grief. I only know that his teaching and his love of Shakespeare have enriched me forever. Thank you, Mr. Rogers, wherever you are.


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