Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pirates in Popeye’s – A Curious Coda

I thought I was done writing about Talk Like a Pirate Day for the year. The holiday was a week and a half ago, and I thought my last column was the cap. As usual, I was wrong.

Friday afternoon was busy. At 2:30 I left the house to pick up the kids (Max and his girlfriend Lauren, who practically lives at our house) from high school. Then we had to drive 20 minutes in the opposite direction through heavy traffic to where Tori had been subbing most of the week in a first-grade class and pick her up. Because Max's high school had a football game that night and he and Lauren are in the band, they had to be back at school by 5:30. So we decided to just grab some chicken on the way home. We stopped at Popeye's.

I had placed the order and was waiting when Tori came in and handed me the phone. "It's New Zealand," she said.

The previous weekend I had missed connections with the last of this year's phone interviews, a children's morning radio show in Dunedin, New Zealand, called "Space Station Kiwi." Time zone differences had buggered us. Saturday morning in New Zealand was Friday afternoon here, but we hadn't figured out precisely when. I had written it off. He apparently had not, and now, a week later. he tried again and got through.

So there I was standing in the middle of Popeye's chicken (Louisiana fresh!) growling into the phone. With the heavy traffic passing by, taking the phone outside was out of the question, so I moved to the corner of the dining area.

Heads of the eight to a dozen diners jerked up in surprise. The cook heard me bellow "Aarrr! Ahoy thar!" and came out and asked Tori if he should call the paramedics. Really.

I sat in the corner and did the live interview. It was actually fun. "Captain Cornflake," as the show's host calls himself, did all these space sound effects – whooshes and beeps and clanks – with nothing more than his mouth. If I were a Kiwi kid, I'd make a point of listening in. Because it was a kids show the questions were a little off the usual path. I ended up warning the kids about the dangers of scurvy and why they need to eat their fruits and vegetables.

The dozen or so diners were staring, not sure whether to be worried or amused. From time to time I looked up, smiled non-threateningly, and shrugged, as if to say, "Hey, what can I do?"

Meanwhile Tori was standing nearby, trying not to laugh at me, and Max and Lauren (who is fascinated by us) tried to look like they didn't know me and were not in fact really there.


In all, it took about ten minutes, maybe twelve. By this time Tori had our order in hand. I finished, stood, smiled and apologized to the room of bemused diners. "It was an interview, New Zealand. You know how they are." And we left.

The kids made it to their game on time, and their school won 75-0. The EJHS team is apparently pretty good.

Tori had checked out a movie from the library to show the first graders, and we watched it Saturday night. "Muppet Treasure Island." It's not a "serious" pirate movie, but who wants pirate movies to be serious? It's silly, Tim Curry is a great Long John Silver, the kid playing Jim Hawkins wasn't terribly annoying, at least not more than most kids playing Hawkins.

"Muppet Treasure Island" is a fun and funny movie.

It is, as Tim Curry says in my favorite number, "When You're a Professional Pirate," "a festival of conviviality!"

And that, I think, is probably the last word on the holiday for the year.

But I'm usually wrong about that.

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