Bullet Proof Vest at an Art Show

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 (na├»ve 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.

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