I was shown Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet (1968) when I was fourteen. We had just read the play in English class; I think it was spring. We had one of those TVs you could wheel in and out of classrooms and the teacher had a videocassette of the film and I have some memory that she dutifully tried to fast-forward the teenage nudity and instead started the scene right on Leonard Whiting's buttocks, but I remember the class evincing more awkwardness than she did. Anyway, in an age before prolifically accessible internet porn, Olivia Hussey's casually glimpsed breasts got an even louder reaction. That wasn't what struck or stayed with me. Everyone around me was falling in and out of love or lust or limerence as fast as Romeo from Rosaline to Juliet, but I wasn't—I didn't feel that feverish doomed intensity about anyone in person or music videos or magazines, I didn't recognize my adolescence in either of those dark, glowing faces, sumptuously photographed. I took away from it the heat and dust and sun of its syncretized Verona, the plangent theme of a rose will bloom, and McEnery's Mercutio. He wasn't beautiful like the leads or leonine young Michael York; he was tall and straw-haired with a sharp, close-set face and I loved him, raucous and restless, the life of Verona's party and the specter at its feast, shivering on the edge of real breakdown in his fancy of Queen Mab. Romeo grips him and calms him, brow to brow; will pull him close in the same gesture after the fatal swordfight, not yet comprehending—like the rest of the crowd, hooting and cheering the latest tomfoolery on—that his always-joking friend is dying for real. I was hurt under your arm. He was supposed to be untouchable, the world-weary live wire, the kibitzer, not the tragic hero. He made a burlesque of his match with Tybalt and it killed him anyway, a better reminder than any smug showrunner's letter that no one in a city of feuds is safe. I thought he was so much older than I was, so much older than Benvolio and Romeo. He was twenty-five. It is funny to me now that I never linked him with Sayers' Wimsey, whom I would run into a year or two later, so easily drunk on words as to be seldom perfectly sober, but in 2001 when I discovered Greer Gilman's "Jack Daw's Pack," his was the abrasive, magnetizing voice I heard at once for the white-headed, black-clad character introduced as a witty angry man, a bitter melancholy man. I did not blame Tanith Lee for importing him wholesale into her novel Sung in Shadow (1983). I tried twice to write about Mercutio, once in college and once about ten years ago, and both times he came out looking like McEnery.
He did not make many movies, as the Guardian obituary notes; I saw him excellently double-cast in the RSC's The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1982) and IMDb tells me he was in Christine Edzard's Little Dorrit (1987), but I think that might be it. I kept meaning to see his Bartleby (1970) and I suppose I have no excuse now. Really what I would like to do is rewatch the 1968 Romeo and Juliet, which is of course in a box somewhere. It was the first movie I ever owned on DVD. I suspect McEnery had not a little to do with that. In his very first scene, Mercutio's skull-masked, a memento mori on his way to the dance. True, I talk of dreams, which are the children of an idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy. Roses bloom and fade for dreamers, jokers, too.
Length: ~800 words
Author notes: gen, title from birdy's skinny love
The spell John had Bonnie try was designed for an ordinary human.
There is no saving to be had.
( Elena wakes up with a terrible hunger in her gums, doesn’t need to look in the mirror to know what happened. )
Goodness knows of the bonkersness of the people who get grassed-up on Ask A Manager there are, I fear, depths still unsounded, because every time one thinks it can't get any worse, lo and behold, something else comes along, and well, WOT??!!
My boss wants us to go on an all-day rafting trip. There is a new director with (okay, these would always be red flags for me) 'outgoing personality', 'emphasis on team-building events. And during a corporate conference there will be 'an all-day rafting trip as a break-out event'.
(Am I being perhaps too bleak in my thought that this is like the famed Hancock episode 'The Bowmans': 'Oh look, they do all have fallen down the old abandoned mineshaft'?)
The person who has posed the question to AAM has already raised the issue of being a weak swimmer and not comfortable around deep water: the director's response was
what does not kill us makes us stronger 'she’d rather see me focus on how to meet a challenge rather than how to get out of it'.
Do we think that 'With your shield or on it' is really a suitable management strategy for the current era? Or indeed, playing chicken to test people's commitment and dedication?
AAM has pointed out that enquirer is very likely not the only person for whom there may be access/H&S issues.
On the other hand, I am slightly traumatized by being reminded that such a huge part of my life (which is still a huge part of my life) is now Olden Times.
That puts me in the company of such weird luminaries as Peter Cannon, Kenneth Hite, Victor LaValle, Molly Tanzer, Dempow Torishima, and Paul Tremblay. Plus everyone else who shows up for the convention, which as I recall from 2017 is no small who's who of weirdness.
I have been a guest on programming at several conventions now, but I have never been invited to be a Guest of Honor, much less a Poet Laureate. It is an honor. I am thrilled.
See you in Providence in August, when the stars are right?