I’d Miss It All Like Hell!

Posted by admin on June 24, 2013 in Pirate Adventures |

Most of you have probably never heard of Cicely Fox Smith. Born in the late 1880s in England, she was a prolific poet and later, author. Her claim to fame is poems of a nautical nature, so well crafted that critics often mistook her for a sailor, referring to C. Fox Smith as a “he,” not a “she.”

She wrote more than 600 poems in her life as well as countless books. In her time she was often considered the equal of Kipling and Masefield, but the passing of time has left her unknown to most.

I am glad to know her. For it is in her words, found in a poem called The Packet Rat, that I find a summation of my life as a pirate.

As you know, I’ve been doing this pirate thing for a long time, far longer than most out there. Some 31 years now, long before there was a Jack Sparrow or even a Captain Red (Roman Polanski’s Pirates).

I have turned my back on a pirate’s life several times over the years, briefly convincing myself that I had grown out of it, that perhaps I was past my prime or that it was no longer a calling of mine. At one point I shed almost all my pirate decor and much of my clothing.

But eventually, I’d return to the calling. Even though I would fight it, it was just a part of me. I know not why. Something obviously happened all those years ago that fundamentally changed my viewpoint of the world around me. Anyone can where a costume, but few can live a pirate’s life. It’s an attitude, not an outfit.

I was reminded of this over the weekend. I had sailed to Westport for the Rusty Scuppers Pirate Daze event. My band Knot for Sail was scheduled to perform and I was looking forward to hanging with some of me new found mates, Scoundrels that they are.

Somewhere along the way, I questioned again why I do this. It was only for a moment or two, perhaps brought on by too much rum punch or a fleeting thought that it just wasn’t fun anymore.

It’s then that I remembered one simple line out of The Packet Rat. I won’t bore you with the whole poem – it is rather long. But if you want to read it, here’s a link.

The line is:

God! I’ve cursed it oft and cruel, but I’d miss it all like hell!

I have indeed cursed my life as a pirate at times. More than once. Over these many years it has cost me dearly. Relationships, marriages, housing, money.

And yet, if I ever did give it up, I’d miss it like hell!

For those on the outside, it seems like nonsense. And perhaps it is. In fact, that may the beauty of the whole thing. It makes the day to day struggles of life seem unimportant, for there, out there in the world of being a pirate, you are able to discover the simple truths about life.

People come and go. Friendships do, too. As does money, power, fame, prestige, health and any of those other things we pursue at such great expense. It is all fleeting. And for the most part, unimportant.

God! I’ve cursed it oft and cruel but I’d miss it all like hell!

If I had given it all up, I would have missed my Eli Moment this weekend. Eli was a little boy in Westport, sitting on a curb, minding his own business, trying to figure out which sandal went on which foot. He was maybe six or seven.

And then this pirate sat down next to him. I called little Eli out. I told him some nonsense about being on the Naughty List. You know the one. When I asked him his name, he started to spell it out for me… E-L-. Then his grandmother told him to say he was Charlie Brown.

Game on. I told Charlie that I was a good friend of Santa and was recommending that he be placed on the Naughty List.

He looked me straight in the eye, got up on his feet, walked over and poked me. I let out a big yelp and he poked me again. Over and over and over he poked me. On my chest, my arms, my legs. Then he moved to my back and was poking me with every finger he could muster.

It was then that I got hold of his legs. I yelled out “Tickle Machine” and started to tickle him up and down.

It appeared to be a draw. Eli retreated with his grandmother. Down the street he went, our little battle of wits completed. He was every bit my equal.

At least for a moment. As they made their way down the block, I started to get up. It was then that I saw a kid heading at me with breakneck speed. A blur of motion, another opportunity to play. Then I felt a poke on my leg.

It was Eli, who had returned from afar, delivering his last blow in our little battle. He had bested this old pirate, one who thought he had seen it all and who thought perhaps his best times were behind him. They were never behind me. They were and are before me, there for the taking, as long as I pull my head out of that blowhole below my equator

Money can never buy a moment like this. It’s what makes pirating worthwhile. Those times when you connect with another person on an intimate level; you touch one another’s lives in a way that is unforgettable. And just for that moment, all the world’s woes and your own personal pity party suddenly slip away, being exposed for the total B.S. they truly are.

Eli, you’re off the Naughty List. But you’ll forever be on my own list of reasons why, though I curse it oft, I would miss it all like hell!

In the Emerald City, so blessed to be a scoundrel, a rogue and a Hurricane,

– Robb

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