This piece has little to do with the ending of the cosmos, either the phenomena or the recent FOX/National Geographic show. It has a little bit to do with Shakespeare on the Green’s brilliant production of “Comedy of Errors,” playing this month at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater. But it is a catchy title. Until I had breakfast with Shakespeare’s Dromio, I intended to write an article about the show, “Cosmos,” science, education, and our esteemed NC General Assembly.
A couple of Saturdays ago I was helping Dromio of Ephesus carbo up at Ezzell’s before his rehearsal. It takes a lot of bacon, pancakes and syrup to fuel this high-octane comedy. Dromio sipped a cup of coffee. His eyes widened.
“Did you see that?”
“What?” I asked.
I caught a glimpse of something shiny and slightly unusual buzzing by the window. I tried not to let my brain process what my eyes saw.
He asked again, “It couldn’t have been? It had to be an Airsoft, right?”
“Probably not. Not today.”
We sat a few hundred yards from the gun show at the Armory, where periodically folks exercise their constitutional right to bear arms, as well as their universal right to arm against paranoid delusions. Dromio and I saw a citizen riding a beat-up, old Schwinn, with a brand-spanking new assault weapon slung over his shoulder. As far as I know, NC doesn’t have open carry yet, but we’re catching up to Texas, the safest place in the states.
Even this Ephesian Dromio seemed astonished. “I am amazed.”
A few days later, I flew to San Antonio. The Riverwalk is alright but the river is little more than a canal. My first view of the Alamo was from the airport shuttle as we turned a corner in the middle of downtown across from a hi-rise hotel. Another passenger suggested that if I wanted to get a feel for the “real” Alamo, I needed to go outside of town—where the Alamo movie set is. Before I could note how absurd that sounded, I saw another open carry individual with some kind of rifle marching away from the Alamo. I felt like shouting: “Remember the Alamo!”
The next morning, I went to use the hotel’s exercise room. I was turned away because I didn’t sign an insurance waiver. “So, in Texas it’s cool to parade around town armed to the teeth but not work out in the hotel gym without signing a form?” The clerk nodded. I said, “Wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt by crashing a stationary bike or going to Target unarmed. Safety first. No unnecessary risks.”
I took a risk anyway and ran outside along the gorgeous riverwalk, and through a seedy section of town. The most dangerous threats I faced were the humidity and my poor sense of direction. I took no technology. (Another risk.) Within a few miles, I got pretty lost.
I ran into San Antonio native Carlos, operator of a small contracting business. He jogged with me for a few miles, gave me the history of the area and guided me back to the hotel. It may seem like a huge risk—running outside, in a new town, without GPS, and talking to new people—but I made it back alive.
I returned home to a real river, a leaky faucet, more tragic hate-fueled shootings, and continued comedy in the NC General Assembly. With little incentive to make a movie in Wilmington, I was very ready to see Cape Fear Shakespeare on the Green. The Bard reminds me that our human drama has been unfolding for quite some time, and our problems may not be as unique as they seem. His lasting legacy for me is to remind me to laugh.
Most of us are kind and well-intentioned, like Carlos. Or funny fools, like the Dromios. There are a few bad actors, like the guy in that Scottish play, but for the most part the odds are ever in our favor. There is little reason to arm ourselves to the teeth against each other. And it’s an error and a tragedy to arm ourselves against our own paranoia. All too frequently it’s an error that begets tragedy.