Fair is Foul and Foul is Foul
Mrs. De Stefano looked like Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast if, of course, Mrs. Potts were a real person and not an animated teapot. She was round, with chubby cheeks and a hearty, sweet laugh. She had a Masters in “Tough Love” and had double-majored in “Sass” and “Intellectual Rigor.” This woman was a force.
“Why would Shakespeare have the cock crowing, and reoccurring knocking in this scene,” she questioned us as she held Macbeth in one hand and twirled her plump fingers in the air, searching for something to materialize from our brains. Her eyes searched the room.
Two seats away from Mrs. D, a name that was far easier to say than Miss-us De- Stef-a-no, I sat in my over-sized uniform, my hair frizzy from carelessness with my eyes scanning the section of text to which she was referring. In an all-girl’s school where, for most girls, Ivy League colleges were legitimate choices and not “reach” schools, I was a commoner grasping for the college acceptance scraps.
“Maybe Shakespeare likes visitors,” I thought to myself, too nervous to admit this very silly analysis of a story in which I was enthralled.
It wasn’t Shakespeare’s tragedy that grabbed my attention; I was captivated by Mrs. D. She was a bundle of Shakespearean passion wrapped in a business-casual muumuu. Her love for Macbeth, which she had probably taught 3,000 times roughly, caressed our minds. She prodded us, tweaked our thoughts, played with our emotions and made us realize how the universe of Literature was fascinating; it was ours.
Distracted for a moment, I was casting the boys I was infatuated with as various characters in the play.
“Pete would be Macbeth, because he likes power. Mike would be Banquo, because, like him, he will have hot sons…”
“Melissa, how would you feel, sitting in the audience of this play, and a cock crows, out of the silence right as someone has been killed?” Mrs. D woke me from my boy obsessed stupor.
“Uh, wow,” I intelligently responded, “uh, well, that’s so scary, I think I’d pee my pants.”
With the words, came embarrassment. I’d pee my pants! At this point, twenty-five girls were laughing at me—with me. Who knows? I began to sweat, my hair frizzed a degree frizzier and I waited for Mrs. D’s reaction. I tried to play it cool. Laugh with everyone so this goes better? Fight off the embarrassment through tears? How would I work this one, of many, “Mongi Moments”?
Sooner than I’d expected, Mrs. D’s face softened. She began to laugh that good laugh that comes straight from the soul. She was tearing up a bit as she, I, and the entire class exulted in my ridiculous comment.
Through laughs, Mrs. D choked out words I’ll never forget.
“Sweetie,” she breathed, “don’t ever, EVER say that in public again!”
And I never have.