So Saturday we’re driving down Highway 27 from Haines City towards the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at the corner of Thompson Nursery Rd. It’s 32 degrees Celsius which is a far cry from the sub-freezing temperatures we left behind in Toronto. We pass a sign advertising a gun show this weekend. Hey, I’ve never been to a gun show before; I bet we’d meet some interesting people there. Tamiko frowns at me and we keep driving. Meanwhile, the news is overrun by pundits debating the local hot-button topic — college students packing sidearms on campus. Clearly, we ain’t in Canada anymore (though if PM Harper had his way, Cda would look a whole lot more like Fla).
On Sunday, instead of a gun show, we go to a massive outdoor art show in Winter Park which is kind of like a suburb of Orlando the same way Thornhill is kind of like a suburb of Toronto. Did I mention it’s 32 degrees Celsius? I don’t say that just to rub northern noses in it. I say that to underscore the fact that it’s awfully hot to be wearing a black bullet proof vest. And yet a bullet proof vest is exactly what I see some old guy wearing at the art show.
We’re not talking about some private security personnel strolling the grounds to ensure public safety; we’re talking about an ordinary guy out with his wife, wandering from booth to booth checking out the sculptures and paintings. When I first see him, I rub my eyes in (naïve Canadian) disbelief. I start to stalk him. Then, naturally, I shoot him. There may be such a thing as a bullet proof vest, but, so far as I’m aware, there’s no such thing yet as a photo proof vest.
A few things occur to me. First, this must be uncomfortable, especially in this heat. Second, this is an art show. I mean, really, what’s he afraid of? Getting caught in the cross-fire between rival landscape painters? Third, I wonder at what point fear becomes, not paranoia, but self-parody. Yet there’s a whole personal security industry down here that encourages people to engage in this self-parody.
As an after-note, I don’t know how to categorize this post. I have categories based on body parts. Heart, Elbow, Head, Spleen, and Hands. i.e. Emotional, Funny, Intellectual, Angry, and Technical. My first impulse is to categorize this as a spleen post. It makes me angry that people can be enticed to be so fearful. But I think I’ll stick it in the elbow category. It’s sadly funny that a grown man can be tricked into believing that his life is in danger at an art show. Or maybe he’s one of the exhibits. A piece of performance art.