Bruce and I started our courtship by reading Shakespeare to each other. (Could there be anything quite that romantic?) Of course, our literary companionship had its down side. In the early years of our marriage, I once accused him of being “just like Uriah Heep!” He was deeply wounded. “Uriah Heep is a despicable character!” he moaned. Alas, it was a wicked stab I had delivered.
(Quiz question #1: Who is Uriah Heep and why would Bruce be offended? Which literary characters would you choose to compare your significant other with?)
Twenty-five years into our marriage, we still use literature as part of our communication — which, frankly, is loads of fun. Here are a few bits of our banter. See if you can identify our sources:
A note I left on a candy wrapper — which once had contained his chocolate:
I have eaten the chocolate
You left in the closet,
And which you were
Probably saving for a snack.
It was so melty
And so dark.
(Quiz question #2: What poet is being imitated? Have you ever used the source poem to apologize for eating somebody else’s fruit? Are you likely to do it now?)
As we step outside to begin a date, one of us often says:
“Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table.”
(Quiz question #3: Who gave us the idea for these lines and what does this poem suggest about our ages?)
If Bruce is trying to comfort me on a day when I don’t particularly want to be comforted and asks, “Honey, what can I do?” I am likely to respond, “Kill Claudio.”
(Quiz question #4: Where in the literary canon does this response come from? In what circumstances is it the best response possible?)
Of course, other things we love also enter into our conversations. Bruce is likely to gather our family together by saying, “Come together right now, over me.”
(Quiz question #5: Who is he quoting? Who was dead when this song came out?)
Finally, if you happen to be one of the literati — or a Beatles fan — what literary/musical phrases do you and your spouse or friends use in your communications? Who do you quote most frequently?