Here in Seattle tis the season for pirates, and not just the kind that prey on Microsoft. Our big Seafair festival which ended on Sunday with hydroplane races and performances by the Blue Angels, features a group called the Seafair pirates at many events. Our office even had a pirate day at the office last Thursday. Alas, I forgot to bring my ceremonial officer’s sword.
Pirates remind me of a story, of course. On a vacation in the beautiful Virgin Islands years ago we were hanging out in a bar in St. John with some fellow travelers. The place was crowded and a man with a peg leg, hook for his hand, and an eye patch came in. At first I thought it was some kind of costume but he sat down at a small table right next to us and it looked like it was all for real.
I struck up a conversation with him and found out he ran a charter fishing boat. Finally I asked, “Looks like you’ve had a rough time.”
“Yes,” he said and pointed at his leg. “I lost this when drug runners tried to steal my boat. They blasted me with a shotgun. Took me hours to get to a port and the doctors couldn’t save it.”
“How about the hand?”
“I was trailing my hand in the water and a shark came up and took it clean off. Would have bled to death if my first mate hadn’t applied a tourniquet. The hook is pretty handy for working on a boat and snagging fish. But sometimes I use a fake hand instead of the hook.”
“Tough break,” I said. “And how about the eye patch?”
“A seagull pooped in my eye.”
“What? A seagull pooped in your eye?”
“Yes, you see it was my first day with the hook.”
Almost true stories of life, remember.