Romeo & Juliet: Reloaded

My good friend (and former classmate at a teeny private liberal arts college – that should warm you for what’s coming) and I were talking the other day about Romeo & Juliet.

Now, I have to say, I love the Bard. In an unadulterated, flamboyant, non-sexual, “I-wish-they’d-find-additional-secret-tomes-of-work-in-a-flat-somewhere” kind of way. I think it’s a durned shame that some students never become enamored with him – love, sex, war, insanity – the man incorporated it all.

Anyway, back to our discussion of R&J. After listening to Deana Carter’s song ‘Romeo” and the intriguing tagline “I would not die for you,” I wondered. Wouldn’t die for him, eh?

Is it possible that many of the relationship ills we find ourselves beseiged with are traceable back to this lovely little play? (What relationship ills, you say? Watch the news. Or your neighbors. It’s pretty obvious.) Yes, truly, where did we get it into our heads that true love means that you’d give up any and everything for that other person, that you’d die rather than be without them, scrapping everything you thought you had ever wanted in favor of a quick tumble, some running from friends and family, and a messy sword-to-the-heart?

Romeo never asked about Juliet’s hopes and aspirations. Never asked her what she saw their future as, what her dreams were. It was more of a “PRETTY, ME WANT” sort of thing. To be fair, now, it’s not like Juliet ever asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, either, but she didn’t go stabbling at his family members with swords, did she?

Anyway, we wean our daughters (and our sons) on this story as the quintessential love affair – is it any wonder we’ve got romantic depressives who think that being stalked is affection? Children who think that the only alternative to a successful romance is utter and complete devastation? For a far better exploration of our discussion, see Allison’s musings here. The cold I’ve got has me groggy and meandering. But it’s something I don’t remember any of my English teachers ever mentioning. Oh, we discussed the whyfores and the family issues, but never once did anyone bring up the myopic I-have-no-personality-but-oh-if-I-don’t-have-you-there’s-nothing-else-for-me-to-live-for-even-though-my-parents-are-loaded attitude throughout the play for those two kids.

Today they’d have succeeded, of course, and be living in Portland, happily together with matching track marks, still lacking any sort of plan. (A note: you know that their being together would have made that movie a success in teh box offices, right? America does love its happy endings.)

So girls, read the play thoroughly. Love it. But beware the Romeos out there. Luckily, at nearly 30, I am far too much the wise cougar for such suicidal tactics, and am immune to Romeo’s charms – what was he, 15?

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