Quixote Vs. Kowalski

QuixoticYou all know what a Don Quixote fan I am. What you probably don’t know is that I’ve been trying to write my own take on the tale. To some extent, I’ve been inspired by Graham Greene’s Monsignor Quixote. I am trying to do something quite different, however. I want to stay much closer to the original. Greene takes the tale in a highly philosophical direction and doesn’t attack the core of the book which is the nature of self. At first, I started the story (for lack of a better term, because I don’t know what it is at this point) on a bus with a man defending a woman’s honor. He is so overpowered with the feelings from this that something snaps in him and he begins to wander the country like Caine in Kung Fu. But the bus wasn’t really cutting it, so I changed the location to a bar.

Life may indeed imitate art. But I write comedy. And life is tragic. Simon Gutierrez at the ABC affiliate in Houston reported earlier this week about a bar fight last Saturday. The reporting is vague and contradictory, but I think I’ve got the broad outlines of the story. A couple of guys came into the bar right before closing. They acted like real jerks, getting in people’s faces and such. Then they force a woman to dance with them. Another guy, our own gallant Don Quixote who is said to be Jesus Geraldo Solis,[1] intervened and told the guys to knock it off. He said she had a boyfriend or some such. A fight broke out. One of the jerks pulled out a gun, and shot Solis twice, killing him.

This makes me reflect on Don Quixote all the more. In a reasonable world, Don Quixote might lose a battle badly. He certainly does in the book but not as much as you would think given that he’s old and crazy. But in our unreasonable world, Don Quixote just gets blown away. There is no romance. No gallantry. No manhood. There is simply the great technological leveler—the individual equivalent of nuclear weapons and the madness Mutual Assured Destruction.

What makes this interesting is that most people who own guns think they make the person more manly. I think it is the opposite. They can certainly just be tools as they are for a great many people. But more often, I’m afraid, they are a symbol of manhood for a culture that has lost it. Don’t get me wrong. I know that actual knights were lowly noblemen who were generally evil and above the law when it came to the vast majority of the people. But there was an ideal.

What is the ideal now? I think there are two things: cash and carnage. Greed is good and so is violence—at least if you can come up with the vaguest of justifications. “He made me look bad in front of that woman, I think I’ll kill him.” But there are ideals for those who want them. And maybe it is better to die a Don Quixote than to live a Stanley Kowalski.

H/T: Mad Mike’s America

[1] I mention his name only because he’s a hero. I get so tired to hearing how every person who puts on a uniform is a hero, like some cop who spends his whole career working in the records department is deserving of the term. People who actually stand up to evil are extremely rare. Mr. Solis is a hero.

Update (23 July 2013 12:09 pm)

Two suspects have been arrested in the case. There is another detail. At first Solis was shot in the leg. He attempted to walk away, so the shooter went up to him and shot him a couple of more times. It is also interesting that one of the guys arrested is only 19.

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