Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Rubbed Raw in Verona

January 11, 2013
Verona is a beautiful Italian city famous for someone who never lived there, as described by someone unlikely to have even visited Verona. Any guesses who I’m talking about? This should help:

                        

“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east and (?) is the sun.”

    

Don’t have it yet?

                        

                        “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?

                         Deny thy father and refuse thy name;

                         Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love

                         And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

    

If you guessed Honey Boo Boo, you’re wrong. I’m referring to Juliet from Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet. A few years ago Mrs. Chatterbox and I traveled to Verona where we were amazed at the cottage industry that has sprung up around the fictional Juliet. In the 1930s letters addressed to Juliet started arriving in Verona. Since 2010 more than 5,000 letters are received annually, mostly from American teenagers. Verona is rapidly becoming to love what the North Pole is to Christmas, except the North Pole doesn’t respond to letters. Those mailed to Verona are read and answered by local volunteers. It’s inexplicable why anyone would seek advice of the heart from a fictional teenager who killed herself over a boy more than four hundred years ago—hardly a character who should be giving advice to the lovelorn.

     

Most tours of Verona take you to a leafy courtyard to see an attraction called Juliet’s Balcony; the building supporting this balcony is from the medieval era but the balcony was probably added in 1925—Verona’s Tourist Bureau isn’t interested in clarifying or even commenting on this but it’s unlikely the balcony was around when these smitten Renaissance teens were climbing trellises and making goo goo eyes at each other while spouting impossibly beautiful words—so much nicer than the texting symbols modern teens are using in place of the English language.

 

    

 

In the courtyard below Juliet’s Balcony a statue of Juliet herself has been erected. She stands in chaste glory, an innocent slip of a girl. But legend has it that if you rub her left breast good fortune will befall you, hopefully not the type of luck that inspired one of Shakespeare’s most popular tragedies. I have no explanation as to why both breasts have been polished by countless rubbings, other than the obvious one—real or not, boobs are fun to rub.

    

I’m told that a statue of Romeo is located somewhere in the city but we didn’t find it. I wonder what people are rubbing on that statue.   

 



Comments

23 Comments
I had never heard of teeneagers writing Juliet in Verona- who would have thought!
By: Kathe W. on January 11, 2013
That they have volunteers who are willing to answer questions from the lovelorn testifies to their sense of civic pride, but I, too, wonder what type of person writes to a fictional character for love advice. They should make up legends about the other parts of the statue and get the rest of it polished...
By: Shelly on January 11, 2013
There was a movie a couple of years ago called Letters to Juliet. Fluff of a movie but in the early scenes it centered around the volunteers of Verona reading and responding to the letters to Juliet. I always admire the cities that promote tourism. Good for them to get some tourist dollars to keep their town viable. Funny about the breast rubbing.
By: Cheryl P. on January 11, 2013
OMG! "Boobs are fun to rub" - Too funny. I laughed out loud. Thanks. Mindy
By: mindy on January 11, 2013
I'm sorry you didn't get to rub her boobs. Bawhahahahahaha. Have a terrific day. :)
By: Comedy Plus on January 11, 2013
OMGosh! I didn't know about this and what a hoot! Yes--why would anyone write to either Romeo or Juliet for love advice is beyond me--LOL! Rubbing on men only brought me bad luck--ROFL!!
By: Rita McGregor on January 11, 2013
So - did you rub the breast? I don't think you specified that in this fascinating piece. I remember the light romance movie 'Letters to Juliet' but did not know about the statue. I would imagine if one boob is good fortune, two is like hitting the lottery? Great story!
By: Carrie on January 11, 2013
Well, i knew people write to Sherlock Holmes to help them solve mysteries, but i hadn't heard of this.
By: mimi on January 11, 2013
Thanks for keeping us abreast of Verona. Be careful of that statue though.. it might be a booby trap. ;)
By: Hilary on January 11, 2013
Hahahaha.... and I bet you had to rub her left breast.. just to see. So you will have to let us know if it was lucky or not.
By: Terry (Are We There Yet!) on January 11, 2013
So if you rub a girl named Juliet's left breast you'll get lucky? Why have you waited until now to share this wonderful tidbit of information? That would have been damned handy to know back when I was about 17. ;) S
By: scott park on January 11, 2013
Please join us for a Friday Flash Blog, where you can share your favorite posting of the week and see what others are talking about at http://www.fridayflashblog.blogspot.com And be sure to sign up on our site to get an email notice when the next Friday Flash Blog is live.
By: Jennifer on January 11, 2013
I don't think I want advice from a girl who got herself in such a mess and then killed herself. And I don't believe I care to rub her left or her right breast or both at the same time. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on January 11, 2013
Always interesting stuff!
By: cranky old man on January 11, 2013
I once massaged Lincoln's proboscis in Springfield, Illinois. If that counts.
By: Val on January 11, 2013
Chuckling away to myself over this post plus the comments :)
By: jenny_o on January 11, 2013
What a bizarre thing -- all those letters going to "Juliet" in Verona. I loved the pics! :-D
By: Lexa Cain on January 11, 2013
Both breasts are rubbed shiny because most rubbers don't know left from right. I've been unable to find a Romeo statue in Verona. I think there's a Romeo with Juliet statue but nothing solo. And the one with Julie is I think made of stone. Which means before you even rub him, he's already hard as a rock.
By: on January 12, 2013
LMAO, I can just imagine what folks are rubbing on Romeo's statue if boobs are what attracts folks to Juliet. LOLOLOLOL Love it! Kathy http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com
By: Kathy on January 12, 2013
As always, you write very interesting and educational posts. I'm off to take a cold shower now.
By: Pixel Peeper on January 12, 2013
I wonder how many go ahead and rub both because they suddenly realize they rubbed the wrong one :) I don't even want to see the Romeo statue.
By: Jimmy on January 12, 2013
The mention of Shakespeare brings back traumatic memories from my school days in English Literature classes. Never really "got it" if I'm honest. But rubbing breasts (real or otherwise) that's a different story altogether! Incidentally, I've struggled to set up a system that notifies me when you write a new post. I've tried again today, and I'll see if it works - if not, I'll drop in off my own steam at regular intervals.
By: Bryan Jones on January 13, 2013
I see that I've been missing quite a lot over here! : )
By: Michael Manning on January 15, 2013

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