San Diego Cinderella

On our Italian tour last year, we took trains from La Spezia to Genoa to Milan to Venice, passing Verona on the way. This week for our anniversary, we followed our hearts back. Longing for piazzas, basilicas, and doumos, we decided to revel in the balconies and tombs of Verona and, consequently, the passion, the pageantry, the drama, and the death that is Romeo and Juliet.

I may have mentioned: Italy feels just like home.

I’ve never been to Balboa Park’s Old Globe Theater. Like a star-crossed lover, I always passed by offering terms of endearment and wistful looks but never stopped to embrace it. It was easy to be seduced by Shakespeare. I painted my toenails in anticipation.

I wore the same dress – strictly for the memory – that I wore to the opera in Sorrento. Remember that night? So does my dress. But alas, the pink stilettos from that adventure are no more for this world. I wore the understudy for tonight’s trip to Verona.

Our first stop of the evening was a romantic restaurant on the harbor. I sipped sangria, nibbled chicken salad, and watched the pretty boats sail by on the late summer breeze. In case this was not enough to set the stage, a fat pale moon rose slowly over the San Diego skyline as the sun began its descent in the west. Our waitress presented creme brûlée, a delicately crisped, creamy concoction that curled my toes. A lot. More than average, apparently.

Hand in hand, Hubby and I sauntered from the restaurant, admiring the tiki torches, admiring each other.

“Clomp, clomp, flop,” went something on the sidewalk.

“Flip, flap, flop,” went the next three steps.

And then, without provocation, one of my shoes decided to throw a fit. “I bite my thumb in your general direction sir!” cried my right shoe.

And in the very next step, the entire bottom of my shoe flew off. Off. The valets and restaurant patrons might not have noticed, had I not burst into hysterical laughter. I had to decide: stop in the middle of the sidewalk and retrieve the errant brick or continue to the car walking like I was on a carousel ride.

I guess I did both. Safely tucked into the car, with no time to spare, we drove to the theater weighing our options. Now, I’ve heard rumors that some ladies keep spare shoes in their cars. They probably keep spare feet in their cars. I am not that lady. Neither do I keep crazy glue nor pliers in my glove compartment. Um, or gloves, now that I think about it.

“What should I do? Can I sneak in barefoot?”

The light turned red. A train went by. Another sigh for Italy escaped me, and we kept driving.

“There’s nowhere to park,” said Hubby, “It starts in ten minutes and we haven’t gotten tickets yet!”

I was bent over what was left of the shoes, still attached to my feet, “Go for it,” I grunted, “we’re doing this!”

Looking neither to the right nor to the left, heads high, we hustled from the parking lot to the ticket stand to the entry to some nice seats…and only then did I take a breath and look down.

These were the ugliest flats on the face of the earth. I traced my finger over one thin strap muttering in Italian. The bright moon rose overhead, lending its glow to the outdoor theater lights, illuminating the stage of Verona. The stage comprised of…a sandbox? I flipped through the program.

Apparently, this year’s director envisioned Shakespeare’s tragedy in sand.

All of the actors were costumed to their ankles, and…barefoot. The beautifully talented Juliet sang a rousing rendition of Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. Teenagers brawled in the alleys. Adults marched around telling everyone what to do. Romeo slumped along with his guitar declaring that without his true love, life – hallelujah – wasn’t worth anything at all.

The main characters get married whilst still children.

Nobody really relaxes until they’re dead.

And nobody can figure out what all the fighting was about.

Like I said, Italy feels just like home.

As we gave them a standing round of applause, I recalled my wobbly circumstances. What was a pair of shoes measured against an amorous tryst under an enchanted moon? An embrace on the balconies of Europe with Prince Charming?

Prince C hazarded a quick look at my feet and grimaced as a very unromantic thought escaped.

This dazzling night was going to end where all good affairs end: a serious flirtation with a new pair of glass slippers.


San Diego at the harbor

Spreckles organ pavilion

Museum of Art

Old Globe Theater

Romeo and Juliet


Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Shakespeare Swear Words


“I bite my thumb at you sir!”

Why did it have to be Shakespeare?

“I do desire we may be better strangers!”

The man was a genius, but, he wrote for an illiterate peasant crowd.

Like TV and movies today, he included plenty of fart jokes, crotch shots and swear words.

He cleverly disguised adult content from future generations by cloaking it in another language.

(There’s old math and new math. There’s old english and new english. Don’t get me started.)

Most students need to have Ye Olde Elizabethan Englishe interpreted to them. Not mine.

Mine were raised reading a King James Bible and when Shakespeare puts his actors into lewd situations, only my kids will blush. They will get the innuendos before the teacher explains them.

I can speak the mother tongue. When the swear words run through my head, complete with cloak and dagger, I don’t let them out of my mouth.

But you can tell they’re in there because my eyebrows go up by an inch and a half.

My kid landed a part in the school play. It’s his first, and he’s pretty jazzed about it.

Between jetting off to Canada and keeping up with cross country meets, somewhere in the shuffle I lost track of this fact.

“Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.”

Bad mom.

I remember helping him with his audition and then dashing away to the grocery store.

Two weeks into rehearsals, I was told to attend the parent meeting, and that he got the part of…Juliet.


I went to the parent meeting armed with a prepared tirade against the public school system as a whole, and my best stink-eye. I was pretty steamed up.

And then the sweetest lady sat down and introduced herself as the drama coordinator.

“There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.”

“Thank you all for your talented children. It’s our first, ever, drama performance at this school, and I went for the easiest play I could find to start us off with.”

Easy? Do you know how many lines Juliet, alone, has to memorize?

“Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade.”

“This play contains bits of everything Shakespeare wrote and puts them into a spoof. The kids and I have been slowly going through the script.”

Spoof? What does she mean?

“Come, come, you froward and unable worms!”

“You may not realize this, but plays by Shakespeare are pretty rough. We’ve been going through, line by line, and just cutting content to make it teen-appropriate.”

You’re destroying Shakespeare? Is this legal?

“Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage.”

“You’re Juliet’s mom, right?” she asked, looking straight at me.

“Oh, um, yes. I guess so. He’s playing…Juliet?”

“As I said, it’s a spoof. Your extremely tall son is playing Juliet and a very short young lady is playing Romeo. They pull off the comedy effect very well.”

Slowly it was dawning on me that things weren’t as they seemed.

I put my stink-eye back into the bottom of my purse.

“Your son approached me on day one and wondered how acceptable the play would be. Most kids don’t even understand the parts that I’m deleting. By the time we’re through, we’re hopefully turning out a play that the whole family can come support.”

I put my tirade aside for another, more worthy opponent.

“This performance is light-hearted, fast-paced, and most importantly, easy on our non-existent budget. The costumes and sets aren’t what you think they are.”

I just couldn’t decide what to say next.

She put three teens on the stage (“The fourth is at volleyball right now”) and gave us a sample of Hamlet.

To a rap.

Roll over, Beethoven.

“You, minion, are too saucy.”

(In case your Google isn’t handy, my quotes are from: Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, All’s Well That Ends Well, Henry V, Measure For Measure, Taming of the Shrew, and Two Gentlemen of Verona.)