There was a summer in my early 20s when I would go to the library and rent VHS copies of Shakespeare plays. Additionally, if I didn't have the text versions in my own nascent collection, I would check out the written works themselves. At home, I would watch the plays - most of which were BBC-esque Masterpiece Theater efforts - and follow along reading. Because I was intent on deeply processing each work, I would take about three days for each.
What I remember most about that summer is that A Midsummer's Night's Dream was my least favorite Shakespeare play, and coincidentally that summer I became friends with an actress who played Puck in a local production of the play. Also, Hamlet was the play I absorbed most completely, perhaps because at the time I was intent on mastering Joyce and read Ulysses, The Odyssey and Hamlet simultaneously, trying to connect the dots, my out-of-print literary reader by my side.
Those, indeed, were the days, but these are the days, too. Then I was a boy; now I am something a bit more. Then I was penniless and optimistic; now I am sorted out but resigned to the way of the world. Speaking of which, that summer I saw the Congreve play Way of the World, at the same amphitheater where John Goodman played in Henry IV. Then John Goodman drank at a bar near the park and I was introduced to him while he ate Budweiser and tequila. He was gigantic, and I was not.
My friend then and now swears he bought John Goodman a drink and the man didn't thank him for it. I believe him and I don't. He was quite hasty back then, my friend, so it's possible there was some sort of confirmation-bias thing happening. I don't know, but John Goodman was nice to me.
Now I don't go to Congreve plays or rent Shakespeare at the public library. Matter of fact, I bet my library card needs to be renewed. But that's okay. I won. I fell in love and remain in love all these years later. Life changes, and I'm beginning to accept it. That makes it easier.
Formerly GOD'S LONELY MAN