Tonight while intermittently snoozing in the La-Z-Grrl (yes, at 8 p.m. on a Friday) I watched Baz Luhrman’s rendition of “Romeo + Juliet.” If randomly paying attention during bouts of consciousness can be called watching. But then that’s generally how I watch most TV.
This version in all its mid-90s Claire Danes deliciousness is probably my favorite. I think I prefer it to the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli version, which was the one we watched in ninth grade English class. You wanna know what else? I prefer the Indigo Girls’ version of the song “Romeo and Juliet” over Dire Straits’ original (though really, the song is just so clever that I’d probably like any version of it). I’m a rebel.
I cannot watch any version of Romeo & Juliet (or read the play, which incidentally is sitting on the back of my couch right this instant while I type) without reciting Ms. Marquette’s “teenage suicide don’t do it” speech in my head.
Ms. Marquette had the distinct pleasure of teaching Shakespeare to a bunch of annoying adolescents in 1986. I don’t remember too much about Ms. Marquette anymore, except she looked kind of like Betty Boop. She was petite and had big, dark eyes and lots of curly black hair. She also seemed to favor the kind of skirt/jacket combinations that accentuated her tiny waist and full hips.
At least that’s what she looks like in my head, because I think that’s what she was wearing the day she gave us the suicide lecture. As I remember it, she didn’t seem too keen on the speech but was forced to, probably because of some sort of district regulations, the very same regulations that required our parents to sign a permission slip to watch the movie (you see Juliet’s breasts for about 15 seconds).
“Look,” I remember her saying. “Romeo and Juliet are like your age. You don’t want to die over someone you love in junior high. That’s stupid. Trust me when you’re older you’re not even going to remember who you loved this year.”
(wrong, I had a huge crush on Shawn Anderson that year even though I had never, ever spoken to him. And I couldn’t even say that I ever spoke to him).
I’m sure the lecture went on about how suicide’s not the answer and if you feel like harming yourself go talk to your guidance counselor or something. I don’t remember the rest of it. I just remember the part about not wanting to kill yourself over some junior high boy (or girl).
She also had some pretty caustic things to say about Emily Dickinson’s The Railway Train, but I can’t remember what it was, maybe about her being a shut in.
I think Heathers taught us that suicide can do great things for your popularity in high school.
It cracks me up that I read this entry minutes after declaring on Twitter that the Indigo Girls’ version of “Romeo + Juliet” is awesome. So much better than the original!!
“Trust me, after 10 years, Juliet would be saying Romeo O Romeo who the hell is Romeo? These kids are such idiots I don’t even know why I keep teaching this play.”