The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0639 Friday, 31 March 2000.
Date: Friday, 31 Mar 2000 10:09:47 +0100
Subject: Bottom's Hay
Comment: SHK 11.0624 Bottom's Hay
Gabriel Egan writes:
"To "bum" also means "to ask for pleadingly" and a "fag" is a
cigarette. In North Carolina I suggested to a chain-smoking colleague
that, having inadvertently left his supply at home, he might approach
one of my students to "bum a fag". How we laughed."
Who could have predicted that pointing out a common error (the wrong
idea that Bottom's name had anything to do with the animal he is turned
into) based on a homonymy with asymmetrical geographical distribution
would trigger the sharing of such rather common homophobic
reminiscences? Yet Gabriel goofs again. In contrast to Marlowe or
Jonson, Shakespeare does not mention tobacco. In fact, Bottom prefers
hay to that weed, and Adonis even goes so far as to reject, smilingly,
Venus's offer to be a deer and graze on her "bottom grass" (Ven. & Ad.