A Pirate’s Life.

Posted by admin on January 28, 2013 in Pirate Adventures |
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There was a time oh, so many years ago when pirates were few and far between. In fact, there were only two groups of pirates we ever knew of in the 1980s – the Seafair Pirates and the pirate crewes of Gasparilla who had their annual festival in Tampa, but as far as we knew, didn’t play pirate like we did here up in the Northwest.

Yes, there were a few freebooters out there as well. People like Ben Cherry who portrayed Blackbeard and did education. But as far as pirate entertainers, you could count them on one hand back then.

Fast forward to today and they are everywhere. As you’ve seen, I’ve fingered the Pirates of the Caribbean movies for the popularity of piratedom. Over the years I have met hundreds upon hundreds of “pirates” and “wenches” at festivals all over the U.S. and Caribbean.

You probably noticed the quote marks. I confess, I have rarely been impressed by the vast majority of these individuals. It’s easy to put on a costume and pretend to be anything you want to be. But to be a pirate or a wench without quote marks is a very rare thing, so I use the terms very, very judiciously.

Yes, I admit to some trepidation as I headed out to Ocean Shores over the weekend to A Pirate’s Life for Us, a weekend of piratical fun and games with more than 100 lads and lasses in attendance. I have been among the quote-marked before and yes, I was worried that perhaps it would not be much fun nor games.

There was no need to worry. The pirate DNA in the Pacific Northwest is a funny thing. Though several off us broke away from the Seafair mothership more than three decades ago, the spirit of that group lives on in many different and unique incarnations and for this one weekend, they all come together to create magic.

I am a harsh judge of piratical types, I admit. When you’re one of only 183 people ever called upon to join an organization that has been around since 1949, you see pirating differently. It’s a lifestyle, a calling if you will, an approach to life. No, I’m not saying that you dress up like a pirate in your daily life or talk in “Arrs” and “Arghs.” Rather, it’s an outlook, a way of being, a life where you readily roll the dice just to see what you come up with.

There’s an old saying in the Seafair Pirates that “many are called, but few are chosen.” Those who have been chosen can tell those who are not a mile away. There are many quote-mark-pirates in this world and within moments, I can tell if you are, aren’t or might be someday unquotable.

Hence the trepidation. A hundred plus pirates gathered from all walks of life can cause me to cast a wary and weathered eye upon any gathered throng.

I am pleased to report that I met many, many pirates and wenches over the last weekend. Notice, no quote marks. While time has made me senior to them in terms of experience, now being in my 31st year before the mast, I met many who I now consider and will call a fellow adventurer.

In the days of being a Seafair Pirate, I never sponsored anyone into the group. Sure, I knew a lot of people and had many friends. But it was a hard group to get into and an easy one to get tossed out of, and I just never thought anyone measured up to their high standards. Too bad A Pirate’s Life wasn’t around back then. I would have come back with many new recruits.

Well, that’s a yes and a no. As we all know, the Seafair gang has women, but they don’t have women among their ranks. This always presented problems, largely because some lasses I have met were better pirates than a few of the guys who called themselves Seafair “Pirates” in my years. Yes, the quote marks are back on, a really big set of quote marks, too. It’s one of the reasons the mutiny happened all those years ago, as we wanted a group that allowed female members.

It’s odd being the “old guy” now. Not in chronological age, for as we all know, I still think I am 24 years old. I found out over the weekend that I can still close a bar, fall into bed at 3 and get back up at 7. I don’t get up quite as fast as I used to, but I can still get it up.

While in the process of closing the bar, I once again was reminded of why I ever became a pirate. Sure, the crewes amassed in Ocean Shores donated tons of food and pet supplies to the local food banks… the community service I found to be such a vital part of my own pirating over the years. But I also met up with a pirate who knew he wanted to be a pirate someday because of me.

No, I never sponsored him. I simply came upon him as a very young boy. He was watching a parade that we were in. The pirates were scaring the crap out of him. But one pirate, a rogue armed with a toy dog that had an earring, an eye patch and barked at the crowd, helped him see that all pirates didn’t have to be scary. They can be entertaining, too. And that was when he knew he wanted to be a pirate one day.

Spike the Wonder Dog is long gone now. But that little gimmick not only turned the tide for a scared little boy, but taught this particular pirate that what he has been doing all these years – touching the lives of others through mirth, merriment and a little twinkle in his eye – has all been worth it.

People often wonder how I can do this all these years – doesn’t it get old? The answer is always a resounding “No!” It never does, largely because I get to meet so many amazing people in my daily walk in this world. From “pirates” and wenches to Jimmy Buffett and a scared little boy who remembered a not so scary pirate with a mechanical dog, it has made all the good, the bad and the downright ugly in my life all worth it. I wouldn’t have traded it for all the money in the world or a moment in someone else’s shoes. I have been blessed to live a life that most only dream about… the life of a pirate.

In the Emerald City, still blowing .05 two days later (just kidding),

– Robb

 

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