“Shakespeare was the theatre’s greatest craftsman: he wasted no tortured ratiocination on his plays. Instead he filled them with the gaudy heroes that all of us see ourselves becoming on some bright morrow, and the lowly frauds and clowns we are today.”
H. L. Mencken
People are afraid to merge on the Queen’s Highway in London. This is the first thing I hear when I come back to the city. Juliet picks me up from the docks and mutters this under her breath as her carriage drives up the onramp. She says, “People are afraid to merge on highways in London.” Though that sentence shouldn’t bother me, it stays in my mind for an uncomfortably long time. Nothing else seems to matter. Not the fact that I’m eighteen and it’s December and the ride on the ship had been rough and the couple from Ipswich, who were sitting across from me in first class, had gotten pretty drunk. Not the mud that had splattered the legs of my jeans, which felt kind of cold and loose, earlier that day at a port in France. Not the stain on the arm of the wrinkled, damp shirt I wear, a shirt which had looked fresh and clean this morning. Not the tear on the neck of my gray argyle vest, which seems vaguely more Parisian than before, especially next to Juliet’s clean tight jeans and her pale-blue T-shirt. All of this seems irrelevant next to that one sentence. It seems easier to hear that people are afraid to merge rather than “I’m pretty sure Portia is anorexic” or the singer on the street crying out about aether. Nothing else seems to matter to me but those eleven words. Not the warm winds, which seem to propel the carriage down the empty cobblestone way, or the faded smell of marijuana which still faintly permeates Juliet’s hair. All it comes down to is that I’m a boy coming home for a month and meeting someone whom I haven’t seen for four months and people are afraid to merge. Dude, I haue neither the Schollers melancholy, which is emulation: nor the Musitians, which is fantasticall; nor the Courtiers, which is proud: nor the Souldiers, which is ambitious: nor the Lawiers, which is politick: nor the Ladies, which is nice: nor the Louers, which is all these: but it is a melancholy of mine owne, compounded of many simples, extracted from many obiects, and indeed the sundrie contemplation of my trauells, in which by often rumination, wraps me in a most humorous sadnesse.