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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On Pirates and Childhood

Some would consider themselves lucky to be made to attend a basketball match. Others would deem themselves lucky to be tricked into a computer game. I, on the other hand, was fortunate enough to be made to dress up like a pirate.

A boy's birthday arises; his imagination has been kindled and sold to the movies of the Pirates of the Caribbean. This boy's parents want to throw this boy one giant bash; spoil him just right for everyone knows that after age 12, birthdays all go down hill. Birthdays are a ball, a festival, an all out carnival at childhood, but once one crosses the era of velcro into that entangled era of knots, buttons, and zippers, then that person dreads his next anniversary of life, which reminds him, not any more of his birth, but of his waning life. Sad. Sad. Sad. What used to be a celebratory day of infinite icing licking and kool-aid mustache making quickly turns into a pensive day of wondering is this what its all about or a powerful nostalagia which calls back times when the kool-aid mustaches were indulged by all your birthday party guests. We've got the progress of man in reverse. This child, the prolific inventor at heart, evolves backwards into the stumped over, brooding ape glaring at that stick on the ground, wondering how in his flat world, he could have envisioned a sword or gun from it.

But enough our birthday's demystification, let's step back into its enchantment. I was approached by the parents of this lucky boy, to play a pirate for his birthday party. I've been helping out in children's church recently. Skipping sermons to play Jesus a number of times, why if I play Jesus so well, why not a pirate? Or probably the better question is how come parents don't discourage theft, drunkeness, and violence by inviting Jesus to the party, instead of a wreckless pirate? Would the parents be too upset with me if I just showed up as Jesus and explained to the parents that I'm sorry, I think that dressing up as Jesus is better for their kid, his guests, and myself? But no, I am just as thoughtless as the 6 year old boy...I was more than delighted to dress up like a pirate, in fact, as weird as this is, I think I'm always on the edge of my seat waiting for some excuse to dress up like a pirate. And the excuse finally came. So I couldn't turn it down.

It's in accordance with one of those thoughts, which I would be willing to bet most guys have, all of a sudden, while one's stuck in traffic, or one's studying for an exam, or one's waiting for a computer program to download, from out of the sky, the thought will hit, "Dang It! I should've been a pirate." For me, I suspect, this happens much too often to count, but I'm an exceptional case, and sometimes the idea of a "pirate" is interchanged with other dashing figures like a cowboy (much like Toby Keith's song) or a knight, or a WWI fighter pilot. -But that's just me...I'm absurdly romantic and fantastical like that. But I'll warrant any man whose worth his salt will have thoughts somewhat like these.

So I dressed up like a pirate one Saturday afternoon when most guys my age are watching ESPN or being owned by their companies and newly found wives. The birthday boy, Will, was so struck by the Pirates of the Caribbean that I thought it only suitable to dress as sort of a representation of the pirate who made the movie, Captain Jack Sparrow. This required great preparation on my part, buying a play sword, borrowing my mother's gaudy jewelry, donning the long-haired Jesus wig from the church closet, and getting my mother to apply make up...eye shadow was a must along with a dark beard and mustache. I had the British accent down. I had his drunken half-effeminate swagger down also. Just a few reviews of the movie itself, and I was ready. I even had my own play pirate pistol that looked like the real thing. And then what appeared in the suburban neighborhoods of Dothan, Alabama on that Saturday afternoon was the illustrious Captain Mack Finch, a much better and nobler pirate than the aforementioned Jack Sparrow. I could out-connive him, out-fence him, and out-charm him, I assure you that, mate....Savvy?


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