It’s a commonly known, and commonly mocked, love of mine. Since I could read I’ve had a love of language, but since summer 2005, I’ve been involved in a longstanding affair with the words of William Shakespeare.
Though while that was when I first began devouring his plays, I was always destined to be with The Bard.
I was born in a blizzard in 1991, a lovely palindrome of a year. My parents were not told what gender I would be, as the doctors had been unable to tell from the ultrasound. But like all McCombs babies from the past century, it was assumed I would be a boy. Imagine the uproar when I appeared lacking the expected genitalia. With no female name even considered, I was quickly given a family name from my mother’s side. The newest addition to the McCombs Clan would be not Jack or Donald, but Katherine.
But Katherine quickly did not seem to fit this new and prickly infant. My mother, being an avid theatre goer herself, quickly dubbed me Kate. “for you are called Plain Kate, And Bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the Curst” (Taming of the Shrew; Act II Scene 1)
As she loves to remind me, I was not a pleasant child.
I was 14 when she enrolled me in what we all still affectionally refer to as Shakespeare Camp. It was all downhill from there.
There was a girl in the corner with hair that fell nearly to her knees and a mischievous glint in her eye that asked me if I was Kate the Curst. When I tentatively answered yes, she responded with “A title for a maid of all titles, the worst!” She needs no other introduction.
Over ten years later, we are still best friends. We’ve played the evil sisters in King Lear together, directed poor school children (and even unluckier college students) in countless scenes and plays, sent each other terrible Shakespeare puns for Valentine’s Day, and are those girls that harass the poor kid on The High Line who quotes Shakespeare for tips. (If you ever read this sir, we’re mostly sorry.)
We now live in separate cities with new separate lives. She works for the Mathematical Association of America in DC and I still roam Manhattan and Queens in my many hats. But even long distance, Shakespeare still acts as part of the major glue of our friendship.
We both still send out and share Shakespearean Valentines over the internet. I found a sampling posted on Facebook.
Not to be outdone, I received one from Pinterest:
For my last birthday, I received two books. One on Shakespearean themed cocktails, and a second on Shakespearean interpretations of contemporary pop songs or Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen. I flip through at random often and am consistently delighted. I’ve suddenly discovered an appreciation for Carly Rae and T Swift.
With over 25 years defined by history’s greatest storyteller, is it any wonder that my life has become defined by a myriad of stories that I continue to live and tell?
I am so excited to share them with you.