Pirate Spotting

Feature photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

“Avast,” cried the child from the next aisle over. “Avast, matey!”

“Stay close,” I said as I picked through the black pleather boots on sale. Looking for my size in something without a 3 inch heel.

The child ran over, tugging on my arm with excitement. “I found a pirate.”

“No toys today,” I reminded them.

“No. A real pirate.”

We turned into the next aisle. The child squealed with excitement. “He’s a PIRATE!”

Was he?

A burly bearded man was standing at the end of the aisle. He had pulled back his long curly hair under a red bandana tied at the nape of his neck. He wore a loose white long-sleeved shirt with an unfortunate resemblance to the puffy shirt of Seinfeld fame. The black eye patch over his right eye added to his pirate vibe. As did the sturdy knee high boots pulled over his faded work pants.

If he was a pirate, he was not a happy pirate. I suspected he had overheard us.

“Ahoy,” whispered my child. Now bashful in the pirate’s presence.

As a parent I panicked. What was the correct protocol in this situation? Clearly he did not realize the great honour and respect our family accorded all pirates. Was an apology even in order for mistaking him for a pirate?

Another instinct bubbled up. This seemed a rare teachable moment for explaining a fashion faux pas. If people wearing eye patches did not want to be taken for buccaneers of the high seas, they needed to consider their entire ensemble.

That parenting instinct seemed wrong.

The pirate scowled.

“We be learning about pirates at school,” I mumbled. “I did a poem.”

We backed out of the aisle—almost bowing—as if leaving the presence of Cap’n Barbosa.

“Yo ho!” called the child in parting.

I scurried us out of the store. Wondering if we had time to stop for a Pirate Pak at White Spot on the way home. Or a bottle of rum.

“I can’t believe I met a real pirate.”

“Aye. It be a fine day fer spotting pirates,” says I.

© 2019 Jan L. Mayes

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