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Shakespeare High: Mercutio gets another sad selfie from his drama friend

Mercutio's a popular guy. He's got all sorts of friends—but only one drama friend: Romeo, "Mr. Broken and Bleeding," forever falling in and out of love with anything wearing a skirt. In her take on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, young-adult author and graphic novelist Mariko Tamaki imagines what Mercutio would be thinking in a high-school hallway, iPhone in hand.

"Friends" by Mariko Tamaki


Yeah, I got lots of friends. School friends. Work friends. Jock friends. Virtual friends. Virtually friendless friends.

I got friends who are just up for a party. Party friends, I think they call them.

Got guy friends and girl friends. Man friends and lady friends.

Short friends, money friends. Friends who are short on money. Money friends who are short.

Thick friends, thin friends. Thick and thin friends.

I got all kinds of friends because I like everyone, you know, that’s me.

What can I say? I’m a popular guy.

A people person.


Oh, yeah, DRAMA friends. Got that too.

You know what drama is, obviously. Who is alive and in high school and does not know drama?

A DRAMA friend, to be clear, is a friend who is only a friend so they can lay... their drama...on you.

If you are looking for advice, I would say that it is good, if you have a drama friend, to not have more than one.

I have ONE.

Drama spelled R-O-M-E-O.

You know Romeo? Everyone knows Romeo. Tall guy. Longish hair, boyish charm? Nice shoes. More money than he knows what to do with. Puppy dog eyes?

Let me tell you something about my friend Romeo. 

Maybe he’s your friend too.

Romeo, athlete and teen heartthrob, is ENDLESS DRAMA.

Seriously? The amount of time I spend talking about, texting about, instant messaging about, fb messaging about, snap chatting about and so on that guy's lady troubles cannot be counted. It is not countable. 

It is frequent like pizza.

Predictable like a sitcom.

Speaking of.

Look at this. This is what he sent me yesterday. That's his heartbroken face. 

I got hundreds of these things. You see that? A real tear. For Marla with the bubble gum lipgloss. 

Or Marni with the short shorts.

It’s always someone with a something.

Katie with the cute butt.

And if you ask him, he will tell you, text you, message you endlessly at inappropriate hours and all the time, and tell you that his heart is breaking for these girls. Bleeding. 

For LOVE, he says.


Look at this.

This is not bleeding for love, okay? 

Let me tell you what this is. This is a selfie, okay? This is not a broken heart. If anything this is just an invitation to get girls to feel sorry for him. Which he says he doesn’t want. Of course. “No,” he says, “no more. Please.”


Man, I want to say, look at you GETTIN’ it even with all your blubbering.

And just to be clear, I’m gettin’ it too, by the way. And I don’t have to take a picture of myself in my pajamas weeping my guts out to get it. I take love because it’s there for the taking and I don’t let it run over me like a pickup truck. I PICK UP. That’s it.

Because I understand, unlike someone I know, that this girl thing is not about love and bleeding hearts. It’s about biology and math.

Blood pumping. One plus one.

No poetry required.

Hold on, got a text. “I’m not going.”

‘Scuse me while I text Mr. Broken and Bleeding back.

“Tonight’s the nite. Get your man on and stop being a fool.”

We’re going to party tonight, whether he likes it or not. It has been foretold by me and there’s no backing out. No, “I don’t feel well.” No, “My heart’s not in it.”

Tonight’s not a night for hearts. It’s a night for adventure. Tonight we invade and we party with the other side, whether they like it or not.


Mariko Tamaki is a Canadian writer. Her recent works include the comic Skim, with Jillian Tamaki, Emiko Superstar, with Steve Rolston, and the YA novel (You) Set Me on Fire. Her film Happy 16th Birthday, Kevin is currently touring with Toronto's Inside/Out Festival. Her graphic novel, This One Summer, with Jillian Tamaki, will be released in May 2014. She also has a YA novel in the works about magic, California, the Internet and revenge. Follow her on Twitter @marikotamaki.

Click on each character in the image below to go to 
his/her story.

Original illustrations: Graham Roumieu


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