I lost the Bard last week. Well, not really. I knew where he was: at Mickey's Barber Shop. I had driven down there last week for my monthly cut; it was raining; I covered myself (slightly) with an old Shakespeare umbrella we keep in the car for such ... inconveniences.
I love that old (broken) umbrella. We bought it up in Stratford, Ont., one summer when we were up there for the Stratford Theatre Festival, a trip we'd taken each August (usually the first week) between 2001-2017. We'd see (usually) eleven plays in six days. Most of those years I was still teaching (and teaching Shakespeare, too), so I would buy things I could flash around at school. Like the umbrella you see pictured above. Love the version of Shakespeare's upper body that decorates it.
I had to wait a little last week (Mickey, the best barber in the world, takes no appointments: first come, first serve), and by the time he was finished with me, the rain had stopped, the sun was out, and I'd forgotten I'd even brought an umbrella with me.
A few days later ... I noticed it was missing. And I knew where it was, too.
That umbrella is one that lives in our car; that way we always have some protection when, guessing wrong, we find the rain is falling when we didn't think it would. It has rescued us countless times.
It is also broken. One of the ribs has cracked; the Velcro fastener has fallen off. But, you know, I see it as kind of an objective correlative for ... me. Broken, falling apart, still useful now and then.
The weather's been fine since last week, but today, out on another errand, I remembered it. I drove down to Mickey's, looked at the hook where I'd hung it ... not there.
I asked Mickey, "Did you find an old raggedy-ass umbrella here last week?"
He looked at me. Smiled. "Sure did. And I saved it for you." He went to his closet, retrieved it. My heart swelled.
So ... now it's back in the car, waiting again for a Lear- or Tempest-like tempest when it can spread itself, missing rib and all, and save us from the sort of thing Lear raged about ...
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks! (3.2)