Day 74 of Isolation on Tracy Island
“What on earth are you two doing?” Gordon asked, popping up out of nowhere like a tropical jack-in-the-box, his shirt flapping in the breeze, making us both jump.
We were doing nothing more exciting than stretching out on the couch, where I had forced John to settle by laying on him and then demanded he read to me. And since that was actually a pretty normal occurrence, I was at a loss as to what he was referring to. Knowing him he’d just declared today to be “eat with your toes day” or something equally ridiculous and was annoyed we weren’t playing along.
John stopped reading to glare at him. I lifted my head off his shoulder to join in with the glaring.
“We were trying to have a quiet moment without constant interruptions,” I told him. Why did he have to have so many brothers?
“I told you we should have gone up to Five for a few days,” John sighed, picking up the book again and continuing to read from where he had left off. I snuggled closer to listen.
“This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor.
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than-”
“That! That’s what I meant. What are you doing?” Gordon interrupted again.
“Trying to read Macbeth, obviously,” I grumbled.
“Why? It’s rubbish. No one reads that sort of thing any more.”
“Sure they do. Did you not read Shakespear in highschool?” I asked.
“Only when I had to, not for fun,“ he sneered that last word in the same tone people use when they have just trodden in something disgusting or realised there is no milk left in the house.
“You don’t know what you’re missing,” I told him.
“You two are so weird, there are billions of books out there and you are reading one so old that hardly anyone can even understand it any more.”
“We understand it, or we wouldn’t be reading it,” John sighed. “It’s not our fault that it’s too intellectual for you.”
“I could understand it just fine if I wanted to!” Gordon protested. We snorted in disbelief. “Hey! I can be an intellectual too, I can be smart. Move over!”
He shoved our legs out of the way, forcing us to sit up and dropped down next to me on the couch.
“Do you have to be here?” John asked.
“Yes. I’m going to prove that I’m smart, keep reading.”
John sighed but continued where he had left off, obviously knowing that there is very little point arguing with him.
“Are less than horrible imaginings.
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical.
Shakes so my single state of man.
That function is smothered in-”
“Nope! I can’t do it! It’s just so boring!” Gordon wailed.
“Heathen!” I smacked him with a cushion.
“Out of my sight! Thou doth infect my eyes!” John flicked his forehead.
“What was that?” Gordon asked, beginning to laugh. “Did you just insult me in your weird Shakespear language?”
"Yes, because we invented old English,” I sighed.
“Thou art a dull and muddy-mettled rascal.”
“Did you just call me stupid in old english?”
“Yep,” I grinned. “He did. It isn’t boring, Shakespear is a total G.”
“Yeah, right, still sounds boring to me.”
“Macbeth is a masterpiece, it’s about a Scottish dude and his mate who meet these three witches and they, out of the goodness of their hearts, give him a prophecy telling him that he’ll become king of Scotland but that his mate will father a whole line of Scottish kings but won’t be king himself. Feeling like this is totally his destiny he isn’t prepared to wait it out and see what happens, he wants to be king now, so, with the urging of his wife, he kills the king and his mate. He is crowned but he becomes overwhelmed with guilt and paranoia. He goes back to the witches and they tell him that he must beware of some other dude named Macduff but that Macbeth is incapable of being harmed by any man born of a woman. So Maccy B, he gets a bit cocky and thinks it’s all good for a while, even though Macbeth’s wife is going a little cray cray and taking the whole handwashing thing a wee bit too seriously. But then Macduff gets in on the action and brings an army with him, they storm the castle and Macduff tells old Bethy that he was born by cesarean-”
“Untimely ripped from his mother’s womb,” John added.
“And Duffy beheads Macbeth and this other dude named Malcom that I forgot to mention, becomes king. See? It’s great!”
“Love, you just butchered Shakespear so badly that even I didn’t understand half of what you just said.”
“It’s my gift to the world,” I shrugged. “My ability to sum up a plot so badly that even I’m not sure if it makes sense. But I thought I did OK with that one.”
“Yeahhh, not so much,” Gordon teased. “I tuned you out three words in.”
“John, insult your brother for me, I am no longer talking to him.”
“Thou yeasty folly-fallen bladder.”
“How dare you, sir! I have no idea what that means but it sounds bad.”
“That’s kind of the point.”
“What’s the point?” Scott chose that moment to walk in, catching the tail end of the conversation.
“John is insulting me!”
“What did you do?”
“I was asking Gordon.”
I cracked up laughing, Scott always has our backs.
“He said that Shakespeare was boring and then was mean to me after I took the time to explain the plot to him. Now I’m not talking to him.”
“Did you explain it the same way you explained The Witches of Eastwick to Virgil? Because I’d seen it and I didn’t understand that either.”
“My talents are wasted on you all,” I nudged John and quirked an eyebrow in Scott’s direction. He rolled his eyes but dutifully dragged out a premium insult.
“Sense sure you haven else could not have motion; but sure that sense is apoplex’d. ”
“Oh my god, you can still do that?” Scott laughed in amazement.
“Do what, insult people?” Gordon asked, clearly confused.
“John was in a Shakespearean insult team in highschool, they actually took part in competitions, he was obviously the champion, won them the league and a bust of Shakespeare’s head as a trophy.”
“Obviously,” I agreed, patting his hand proudly. “Dude got mad skills.”
Gordon’s eyes flicked up to the bookshelf on the balcony above our heads where a small gold bust sat.
“You are so weird.”
“So you frequently tell me. Now, will you two kindly go away and leave us in peace?”
“Oh no, no way,” Scott laughed. “I want to hear more, in fact, I’m calling the others.”
And that’s the story of how John spent more than three hours blowing their minds and damaging their egos with a never ending volley of insults as they goaded him into more and more outlandish attacks. Here are some of the best.
Thou hath not so much brain as ear wax - to Gordon because he’s not intelligent enough to appreciate old english.
Thou qualling ill-nurtured lout - to Alan who kept chanting “me next, me next”.
Most shallow man! Thou worms-meat in respect of a good piece of flesh indeed- to Virgil because he was in the middle of trying to tame his hair when he was summoned.
Go, prick thy face, and over-red thy fear, Thou lily-liver’d boy - to Scott because he was brave enough to attempt to insult him back.
Thou fawning spur-galled harpy!- at me when I stole his coffee
You should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so- to all of them.
Your face is a book, where men may read strange matters- to me, because I’m a strange, strange lady and asked for another insult.
Thou fusty onion-eyed nut-hook! - at Virgil, no reason at all.
Draw thy tool. My naked weapon is out- after flipping a certain finger at Scott.
Thou wimpled bat-fowling puttock- at Gordon because it was his fault that John was stuck insulting people when he had just wanted a quiet afternoon.
Thou currish bade-court hedge-pig- at Alan while examining his chin growth.
What, you egg! Young fry of treachery! - at Alan when he sided with Gordon.
Assume a virtue if you have it not- at Gordon when he protested his innocence.
Thou artless tickle-brained haggard! - at Virgil when he compared John’s nose to Shakespeare’s massive hooter.
Thou villainous weather-brained barnacle!- at Gordon, just because, and now everyone is calling him a weather-brained barnacle.
Get thee to a nunnery- to me when I said his Shakespearean accent was strangely hot.
Thou puny rampallian baggage- at Gordon, for no reason other than he’s short.
Thou art some fool, I am loath to beat thee- at Scott when he attempted to start a Shakespearean rap battle (don’t ask, it didn’t last long)
Thine face is not worth sunburning- to Virgil who thinks he’s too cool for sunscreen and has a red nose because he fell asleep in the sun again.
You yourself, sir, shall grow old as I am if like a crab you could go backwards- at Jeff who wanted to know just what the heck was happening in his lounge and why we were all screaming with hysterical laughter.
I scorn you, scurvy companion. What, you poor, base, rascally, cheating, lack-linen mate! Away, you moldy rogue away!- at Alan when he tried to steal one of John’s cookies while he was distracted.
Away, you bottle-ale rascal, you filthy bung, away!- At Gordon when he also attempted cookie theft.
The insult lashes came to a halt when Grandma called us for dinner.
“Hey, John?” Gordon whispered as we bundled down the stairs to the kitchen
“I dare you to insult Grandma’s cooking.”
“No, my love, it’s not worth it, think of the children!” I gasped.
“What children?” he asked, genuinely perplexed.
I shrugged. “Our non-existent children, I just thought I’d go full movie heroine for dramatic effect. You do what you want, you’re all crazy.”
He narrowed his eyes as he thought about it, then nodded. I should have known, no Tracy can resist a dare.
Grandma plonked down plates of something that might have been chicken, but also might have been sausages in a gravy for gruel straight out of a Dickensean nightmare.
I watched John out of the corner of my eye. Would he actually do it? He took a deep breath, as if psyching himself up for it. I couldn’t blame him. He pushed the plate away and opened his mouth.
“Away, you starvelling, you elf-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish! Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.”
I think John’s grounded now, but the boys still haven’t stopped laughing…