Fausta's blog

Faustam fortuna adiuvat
The official blog of Fausta's Blog Talk Radio show.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Romeo, Juliet, and me

Neo-Neocon's Romeo and Juliet post reminded me of when I was in school.

I went to an all-girls Catholic school in Puerto Rico, run by Vincentine nuns. When I first started at that school the nuns used to wear Flying Nun hats

but the school was located in Santurce, not San Tanco. The nuns were addressed as Sor (Sister), and unlike other orders, kept their original names. I never saw any of them take flight but they were notoriously bad drivers. The only people taking flight were those who got in their way.

The nuns wore their flying hats which they later changed to regular veils, probably to save on starch, and made us wear the ugliest possible uniform and Bass penny loafers. In the lower grades we had to wear lace-up oxfords, uglier yet.

Being first short and skinny and later tall and skinny, I looked like a pale stick for all my school years - I looked awful in that thing. Have you ever had a nightmare where you show up naked at an important event? I have had nightmares where I show up wearing my old school uniform.

After I left school I have never purchased a pair of Bass penny loafers, either.

Being in that school for eleven years accounts for a lot of my ideosyncracies. One of the better ones is my love of movies.

A few blocks away from my school, El Metro (as in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, not underground/subway metro), the most modern cinema in the area, was located. The nuns took us on field trips to watch nun-approved movies.

I remember the time that we walked from the school to El Metro to see the re-release of Ben Hur. By the time we got to our seats I ended up in the next-to-last seat in my row, and much to my chagrin Sor C.G. (whose name I withold in case she ever reads this) sat next to me after everybody else was seated. Sor C.G. was one of the weirder nuns in the large gaggle of weird nuns from that convent. Well, Ben Hur got rowing,

and Charlton Heston was looking Pretty Damn Good shackled at the oars, when much to my surprise Sor C.G. let out a deep deep sigh.

I wonder if she ever told that one in confession.

But back to Romeo and Juliet.

Ever-watchful for our virtue, one good day the school principal, Sor P. (name withheld to protect the guilty, again), came to our classroom during religion class. If memory serves me right, Sor C.G. was the religion teacher that year. Sor P. sat "inconspicuosly" in the rear of the classrom and at a strategic point in the class formally announced that none us girls should see Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet.

Discreet glances were exchanged among us girls, and I for one made a mental note to go see Romeo and Juliet right away.

Sor P. went from classroom to classroom making the same announcement.

The next day must have been either a Saturday or one of the many holidays they have in Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico and France must be tied for record number of paid holidays), because four of my friends and I walked to the movie theater and saw Romeo and Juliet. All of our mothers, who had not seen the movie, approved of the excursion and some might have even been pleased at our sudden interest in high culture.

By the time our mothers caught on to the fact that R&J had a nude scene we'd seen the movie at least twice.

My friends and I loved the movie. We all let our hair grow to Juliet lengths (I had nearly-waist-long hair for all of my teens), and danced with jingle bells on our wrists. Stores started carrying dresses with Juliet sleeves and we talked our moms into buying them for us. I memorized the theme music and can still play it on the piano.

Romeo and Juliet was a huge success at El Metro and played for long enough that my friends and I memorized the dialogue.

Zefferelli should have sent the nuns a thank-you note.

A few years later my first boyfriend (one of the guys that didn't want me to wear eyeglasses in his presence) quoted
let lips do what hands do,

and wanted me to think he'd come up with that line.

I dropped him because of that.

After I started at the University of Puerto Rico I ran into him and his then-girlfriend.

He had her convinced that the poetry he quoted was his.

You Tube has the original R&J trailer:


Dr. Sanity, the other member of the Sanity Squad I've met in person, has the Carnival:


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At 1:20 PM, Blogger Mamacita said...

Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet has been one of my favorite movies ever since our parents forbade us to see it but then we were REQUIRED to go down town and see it. On our own time, with our own money, but we didn't care. It was a movie and our parents had to let us go because Mrs. Chandler (who used to be THEIR teacher, and they all knew better than to defy her in any way) told us we had to.

The beauty, the absolute beauty of the movie has never left my mind.

When I read a People Magazine article about the two actors, I was majorly disillusioned by Romeo; he was old and fat and bald. Juliet, on the other hand, still looked the same: the hair, that fantastic hair, was still there, and that face, and those eyes. . . . .

I found the DVD of this movie in a bargain bin for five dollars at Big Lots just this past year and I actually screamed loud enough to attract attention. Oops.

The glimpse of Romeo's butt and Juliet's breasts were my first nudity at the cinema, and the fact that my teacher required us to go see it convinced me that I was grown up at last, even though I wasn't even five feet tall and still wore undershirts except on gym day.

This movie remains the golden, glowing highlight of junior year. I still have the Scholastic magazine that featured some of the dialogue and a mess of pictures. I have the piano music, too!

Thank you for this post, dear Fausta. How lovely to discover a partner in Shakespearian teen angst and forbidden movies.

Side note: when I saw Pat Heywood in Hallmark's "The Secret Garden" I actually leaped up from my seat and scared my kids to death. The Nurse! As Mrs. Sowerby! It was perfection.

At 3:32 PM, Blogger JMK2006 said...

How charming! What is it about the Technicolor colors that are so rich and flush?

For a nun with a romantic past, there's Balzac's The Duchess of Langeais:

In a Spanish city on an island in the Mediterranean, there stands
a convent of the Order of Barefoot Carmelites, where the rule
instituted by St. Theresa is still preserved with all the first
rigour of the reformation brought about by that illustrious

(Garbo was supposed to star, but a screen adaptation never got made.)

At 4:22 PM, Blogger Fausta said...

Hurrah for Mrs Chandler!
But you must thank Neo-Neocon. If it weren't for her wonderful post I wouldn't have remembered what fun it was to "sneak one past" the nuns and the moms.

I'll have to look up Romeo and see what he looks like now.

I'll have to read The Duchess of Langeais.
I love Zefferelli's art sense. The color and the details are so lush and rich.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger JMK2006 said...

Guess I better rent that Zefferelli version....

Religion, music, and love. Aren't they the three-fold expression of the same fact: the need for expansion out of which every noble soul is wrought?
- D of L


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