A year ago today, Grandpa George turned 89 and Grandma Grace died. Then last March, as my regular readers know, Grandpa died on what would have been Grandma's 88th birthday. Mike says that this pair of odd coincidences didn't bother him at first, since his parents had been divorced for almost 50 years. In fact he thought it was pretty neat. There was a kind of dark humor to it that helped him get past the sting of losing both his folks in a short period of time. Lately, though, he says it doesn't seem so funny. Now each of their birth remembrances will forever be dampened by an anniversary of the other one's death. It's like knowing that the parade's always gonna get rained on.
"Even Shakespeare couldn't make up stuff this bizarre!" he groused on our walk last evening, then added: "On second thought, yes, he could. Maybe he did."
"Who's Shakespeare?" I asked.
"Google him." I could tell the M-ster wasn't feeling chatty.
I think as the years go by, M will change his mind again about the funny-ness of the situation. For one thing, he's a big flip-flopper. (That's a word I heard on one of those cable-TV news channels. M says the proper terms are "learning through experience" and "evolving." Whatever.)
For another thing--and this is the main reason I believe he'll come around--M has a sense of humor that just will not leave him alone. He once told me that when he was in high school, he went over to his girlfriend's house for dinner and took a stack of rubber dog poop with him. He didn't know her parents very well at the time, and you'd think he'd be all about trying to make a good impression.
Well, you would be wrong. When nobody was looking he took that poop out of his pocket and dropped it on the living room carpet. Then when the girl and her parents discovered it and started to have a three-way conniption fit at their dog (who I'm sure must have been pretty confused), ol' M says, just as calm as anything, "Hey, it's okay--no harm done." And with that he scoops the poop up in his hand and pops it into his mouth!
I asked him if they all thought this was as funny as he did, and he said he couldn't remember. The fact that he's blocked out their reaction says a lot. (Memo: The next time he's in a decent mood, ask him how it is that he finds something like this so hilarious, yet he gets all steamed when I troll the cats' litter box for snacks.)
But back to yesterday: When we got home from our walk, I Googled "Shakespeare" and found that William Shakespeare lived over 400 years ago and that he was, in fact, a famous maker-upper of pretty far-fetched stories, which were in the form of plays. He was also a poet who wrote most of his plays using some rather iffy-sounding poetry called blank verse. (Google it.)
I couldn't find any proof that Shakespeare had a story like Grandma and Grandpa's, though he did have people dying all over the place. The most fascinating thing I learned about him is that he invented a dance called the Hokey Pokey, which goes along with one of his shorter poems. Most of the words are a bit hard to grasp, because people talked pretty weird back then (IMHO). But at the very end it turns out that what he was talking about is the meaning of life. Since today we are marking the biggest events in the lives of Mike's mom and dad, I thought it would be nice to post a reading of Shakespeare's Hokey Pokey poem in their honor. So without further ado . . .
Happy birthday, Grandpa!
Mike with Grandpa George - 1946
And Grandma, we still miss you a bunch!
Grandma Grace with Auntie Julia - 1944
(To watch this on YouTube in its original format, click here.)