Friday, May 27, 2011

The Bawdy Bard


MERCUTIO
...for the bawdy hand of the dial is
now upon the prick of noon.
Romeo and Juliet Act II, Scene IV

Shakespeare knew how to grab an audience with the down and dirty. His plays are littered with double entendres and naughty jokes. Were I teaching high schoolers, I'd drop a few of those quotes into lesson plans and wake those randy teens up but fast.

Alas, I'm with little kids and have to be more discerning. I must stay mindful and prudent, and insist that ass is just another regular old-fashioned term for donkey. Or so I thought.

"Let's not get crazy, kids."

No, let's get crazy.

And it didn't come from the boys, which I would well have expected. Oh, no...it came from the girls.

The five girls in Plot People gather for highbrow literary discourse each week in the school library. We studied the behaviors of Athenian teens falling in and out of love. We wondered about best friends at war with each other and how that happens in real life on our playground every day.

And then we got to the mechanicals, the clowns of the play, rehearsing a play within a play in an Athenian forest.

Mischievous Millie the Ringleader.

I turned a page in our narrative, ready to set the scene and interpret difficult language, when all comedic hell broke loose and the five girls lost it, under the leadership of Millie.

Millie tossed her pages aside, crying, "Don't you guys get it? Bottom!...Get it? Bottom turns into an ass!"

She looked to Elisa on her right and gave her a poke. Both girls tipped out of their chairs and fell to the carpeted library floor. They rocked and rolled. They held their stomachs and guffawed like truck drivers after a few too many tall ones.

"What are you doing?" I asked, looking off to see if our librarian was taking note of our chaotic study session.

"Ass! Bottom! Ass! Bottom!" Millie and Elisa called out, and Tandi joined in, rolling and screaming across the floor with them.

The shy and more intellectual Willow remained in her seat with a palm over her mouth, giggling.

Krystal kneeled next to the floor rollers, throwing her head back and cackling.

I decided to let them go nuts for a few minutes. The Bard would have approved. It's what he intended, and how could I fault these bright bulbs for making the connection?

"Okay, that was super-fun," I offered. "Now, let's take a look at what's happening with Oberon and Titania." All business.

The girls calmed themselves, sat up on their knees, pushed up into their seats, took one look at each other...and collapsed in another jumble. "Ass! Bottom! Ass! Bottom!"

An Elizabethan pyjama party.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
A live of adventure would be going on a ship to some uninhabited island or some island that has very few human inhabitants. My luggage would be some books, a tent, some clothes, some shoes, a bathing suit, flip-flops, a towel, food, water, a sleeping bag, a surfboard, a hat, a walking stick, a pillow, some stuffed animals, rubber gloves, a bag for collecting things, a First-Aid kit, sunscreen, a rubber raft with a paddle, my goldfish and a dog, apple juice, and a cage and leash for a pet monkey which I will get when I get to the island. I will also have a gun to kill animals for food. Also lemonade and ice cream.
Audrey, 3rd grade

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