For his whole life Alonso Quixana read and studied every text concerning knighthood and chivalry until one morning his twisted reality took a left turn and he literally became the Knight Errant, Don Quixote de la Mancha, who could not be dissuaded from fighting dragons, rescuing helpless maidens in distress, protecting the innocent and dispatching giants.
In 1605, as an old man, Señor D.Q., on a spavin horse, in makeshift armor, carrying a wooden lance and a dull sword, rode out into the world to do battle with evil. The fact that he was 200 years late for the “age of chivalry” meant nothing to him.
Following his example (due to a similar twisted reality brought on by a visit to The Mall), I too have repudiated hearth and home and resolved to follow my mad literary hero, Don Quixote de la Mancha, out onto the highway where I might become a Knight Errant battling injustice and defending the right.
My transportation is a 20-year-old spavin Harley-Davidson motorcycle, my armor are my leathers and helmet and my good intentions are my lance and sword.
Once saddled and on the road Don Quixote had little problem finding ladies whose good name and reputation needed to be protected. The brave knight rushed pell-mell into taverns filled with wenches in need of a champion who would demand that they be addressed politely. Explaining himself people understood what he was talking about, however they also understood that he was insane because there hadn’t been any Knights Errant in existence for several centuries. Undeterred, Señor D.Q. took no nonsense from those who refused to believe his mission was serious. When people questioned his path or his sanity there were drawn swords and fisticuffs and being an old man, well past his prime, he was often over matched. Did that dishearten him? Never! He could not be stopped and no matter how many times he was brought to his knees he always struggled up… up until his assailants got tired of knocking him down.
My first opportunity to be gracious toward womanhood came while getting fuel at a truck stop. A young woman offered to ease my carnal burden and relax my rumination. After explaining that my quest was not to debauch but to champion the woman’s good name, she replied that her name would take a great deal of championing to restore its honor. Eventually an argument over the price of the cover charge made the notions of championing anything unlikely.
During my first few days I stopped at a tavern to quench my thirst. Striking up a conversation with the patrons there were questions about my journey. When I explained about following Don Quixote and wanting to be a Knight Errant the only people who had an inkling of what I was talking about were those millennials who played electronic games about medieval armies attacking one another, where storming castles, fighting dragons and giant gargoyles was the point of the game.
During one such conversation I saw a man heaving unwelcome attention on a lonely lady who was sitting quietly by herself at the end of the bar. “Sir, that woman has resisted your unwanted advances both physically and verbally. Remove your arm from her shoulder and act with more politeness.” I spoke with the authority of a knight with the power of right on his side and explained that it was my duty to see that justice was done. At which point the lady coldcocked me with a long-necked bottle of beer while the gentleman laughed. Waking up in the dirt next to my motorcycle, bleeding, I saw the lady get into the man’s car after putting a wad of cash in her purse. Originally I thought retracing the footsteps of Don Quixote de la Mancha would be easy. I was wrong.
Every knight needs a squire. Don Quixote retained the services of Sancho Panza, a dull man but with the ability to believe in the knight’s quest. It became obvious that I too would need a squire. Not to tend my horse or polish my armor but if I was to right wrongs and maintain the virtue of wayward ladies I needed someone to watch my back when I shot off my mouth in bars.
Along a back road, between two small towns as night was falling, I came upon a motorcycle off to the side of the road. A man was sleeping next to a tree. He awoke when I stopped. “Is there a problem?” I queried.
“Yes, a flat tire has slowed me down,” the man answered.
“I have a plug kit and can fix the hole if you like,” I offered.
“Yes, thank you, sir.” Being both polite and formal the man agreed. I dug out my tire repair kit, removed a large nail and plugged the hole. Screwing an air hose into a spark plug hole and attaching the other end into the tire’s valve stem I started my motorcycle on one cylinder, turning the other cylinder into a compressor which filled the man’s tire.
As we returned all the parts and tools to their rightful place I described what I was about and the history and legend of Don Quixote de la Mancha. Sancho Panza and the job of squire was also discussed. The man thought for a long time and asked one question. “Does the knight provide food and drink for the squire?”
“They share what there is to share.” With that the man whose name was Marvin bundled up his belongings on his old Ironhead Sportster and decided to travel with me as my squire.
At the next town we stopped at a café and talked. I told him about Rocinante, Señor D.Q.’s name for his horse and the name I had copied for my Harley. We spoke of Dulcinea de Toboso, Don Quixote’s lady fair.
“Wonderful names; can I have a wonderful name? I would like to be Marvin the Magnificent. What is your wonderful name and who is your lady fair?”
“I have yet to earn a knight’s name and I am still looking for a lady whose name I can honor and carry into battle.”
“Not far from here I know a nunnery that protects many fallen ladies who have no interest in taking the vow. All are beautiful and virtuous. Perhaps one of them would become your lady fair?”
“Good idea. Indeed, that should be my next task. Lead on, Macduff’.”
“Macduff? No, my name is Marvin … Marvin the Magnificent.” He corrected and I didn’t explain about Lord Macduff, the Thane of Fife from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.