The Aftermath

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Following is the e-mail John sent friends in the wake of the first International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Sept. 19, 2002:

We knew we might be in trouble when the Australian DJ announced his next guests were "a couple of blokes from America who've come up with the craziest idea I've ever heard of."

We have been amazed, thunderstruck even, by the response to Talk Like a Pirate Day. Our timbers have been thoroughly shivered. Never underestimate the power of Dave Barry, who we shall from now on refer to as "our close personal friend Dave, winner of the Pulitzer Prize."

Chat rooms all over the Web have been deluged with "Arrs" and "me hearties" and such. I introduced myself at a high school parents' meeting and a woman looked up and said, "You're the talk-like-a-pirate guy." It's apparently particularly popular on college campuses. I'm told it's a huge success at the University of Wisconsin, and a Seven Sisters' school which shall remain nameless is reported to have run women's panties up a flag pole in honor of the 2002 event - a fitting, dare we say, tribute. Chase's Calendar of Events, the annual listing every holiday under the sun (and many under the moon, for you Wiccans out there) asked us to submit the event for inclusion in their 2004 listing (2003 has already gone to press.) So that makes it official, as far as we're concerned.

Mark and I have been jointly interviewed by radio stations in Cleveland and Sydney, AUSTRALIA. That's the moment this became an international holiday. Mark also took an interview with Purplebeard, the Gay Pirate, host on Rosie 105 in Portland. I was interviewed by an Albany country station and, this morning, by a station in Phoenix. I just got off the phone with Irish National Radio. They had originally scheduled to talk to both Mark and me at 1 a.m. today (Ireland is 8 hours ahead) but the guy called to apologize. His producer wouldn't let him do the interview today because it would conflict with the frozen foods promotion they've been running, in which "listeners hush Huskies to the South Pole." That's what he said. Hush. I have no idea what he meant. So we didn't get Irish drive time, but I was on later in the evening. Then I was interviewed by NPR's All Things Considered, which aired the segment as the final story in Thursday's show.

The Aussie wasn't actually too bad, but it was HIS show and he kept it firmly in hand. I could tell several times that our line had been turned off while he went on and on. A couple of callers accused us of "cultural imperialism," because they've always talked like pirates. Well of course they do. Think about how they're continent was settled, as a prison colony. That's what's so great about Australia. Not that Mark or I actually said that, of course. We got in a few broadsides. It was a draw, I'd say.

Mark said he had a similar control issues with Purplebeard. It was his show, and he wasn't going to let some clown from Albany shanghai it. I found the two people from Phoenix and the gentleman from Ireland to be quite pleasant, and well prepared.

At a work meeting Tuesday, one of Mark's co-workers (who I will give an assumed sex to avoid embarrassment) said, "Oh Mark, tell everyone about your special day." So Mark explained all about Talk Like a Pirate Day. The fella who brought it up then said, "I think that's so great, to have a talk like a parrot day." You couldn't make up stuff like this. What? You're going to spend the day squawking and saying, "Braaaak. I'm a pretty boy. I'm a pretty boy. Braaaak. Polly want a cracker." You might as well call it "Make Everyone Within the Sound of My Voice Hate Me Day."

So anyway, Talk Like a Pirate Day has been a HUGE success, far bigger than anything Mark and I ever imagined. We imagined we'd have our 15 minutes of fame. As my close personal friend Dave said, "This thing may be big. Maybe 20 minutes." I am looking forward to the day when they put up a plaque at racquetball court No. 3 at the Albany YMCA, where Mark and I first came up with this idea. As I told my daughter Millie's fifth grade class this morning, this is one of the silliest things I've ever done, but it's been fun, and we've just been riding the wave ever since.

There will be a Talk Like a Pirate Day again next year, we've got to keep the buzz building. But for today, I think you'll forgive Mark and me if we just talk like a couple of yahoos from Oregon.

Arrrr!!

Our biggest TLAP surprise

The column written by our close personal friend Dave Barry appeared in newspapers across the country on Sept. 8. That afternoon, John was sitting at home when the phone rang. He picked up. The voice on the end sounded vaguely familiar. She identified herself. It was Rhonda, Mark's ex-wife. Mark hadn't seen her in a couple of years, since she had moved to California.

She sounded more bemused than anything. "My mother just came over and asked if Mark knew anyone named John Baur," she said. "When I said yes, she said, 'Well, you're in the paper'."

She was curious how we had chosen her birthday for the event. When John explained, she seemed to accept that we hadn't meant anything malicious. It was just a day we could remember, and the sort of detail that made the story odd enough to garner national attention. She didn't have Mark's number, but asked John to pass on the message, "I've never been prouder to be his EX-wife."

He took her number, and Mark later called. It was OK.

Mark's mother in Seattle also called. Mark was out but when he got home he found the following message on his answering machine:

"Your uncle Ernie read the article and thought it was very funny. I don't know what's so funny about talking like a pirate, but I love you very much."

We took a stab and tried to get on one of the late night talk shows, Letterman is our favorite, and Comedy Centrals "The Daily Show," but frankly we'd settle for anything. But nothing came of it.

Yet.

We had tapped into something big, much bigger than we had ever anticipated. Frankly, by the time the 2002 holiday was over, we couldn't have been more tired of talking like pirates. But this is another year, and it's another Talk Like a Pirate Day. Only this Sept. 19, and every Sept. 19 hereafter, we will be ready.

Next: Why talk like a pirate? And how?