Just a note to our readers that today, June 6, 2005, marks the 10th anniversary of the creation of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Most of you have probably heard the story, but you'll forgive me for repeating it on this hallowed occasion.
On June 6, 1995, my friend Mark and I were at the YMCA playing a little racquetball to "get back in shape," as if we were ever in shape in the first place. During the course of the contest one of us – there's no recalling who now – stretched for a shot slightly out of reach and strained somethin' that was best left unstrained. He let out a mighty "Aarrr!"
For reasons that you have to be a guy to understand, we immediately lapsed into pirate patois – "Ye slapped that one of me mizzenmast!" "Here's a broadside right up yer poopdeck!" and other such witty and classy repartee. When the hour was up, we'd realized the game had passed more quickly and we'd had more fun than ever before. We decided then and there that the world needed a holiday where every man, woman and child on this planet would be permitted – No! Encouraged! – to talk like pirates.
We also agreed while still on the court that the perfect spokesman for this new holiday was none other than syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry. But we didn't do anything about it, because that's the kind of guys we are.
We recognized almost immediately that we needed a different day for the holiday. June 6, as any guy can tell you, is the anniversary of World War II's D-Day, the sort of sacred memorial that can't be besmirched with something silly (and let's admit, it's silly) like Talk Like a Pirate Day. I said to Mark, we need a date." He said, "Sept. 19." I said "Why?" He replied, "Because it's my ex-wife's birthday." He didn't mean that in a mean way. It's just that the day was stuck in his head and he wasn't doing anything with it any more. He'd need to retrain fewer brain cells.
Well, it remained a private joke between us and a couple of friends until that fateful day in 2002 when I ran across Dave Barry's e-mail address. I fired a shot across his bow, he answered, we invited him aboard. We didn't hear more until a friend who worked at the newspaper called me. "John," she said, "I'm editing this week's Dave Barry column and ... is this you?" It was. Dave had written a column. It ran Sept. 8. And we thought, that's cute, there's our 15 minutes, and the whole thing would be over by that afternoon. Except it wasn't. People kept calling and writing, asking for interviews.
And the rest is, if not quite history, at least a nice footnote to whenever someone gets around to writing the social history of the early parts of the century. We'll settle for that. It has just grown and grown until we have pirate personas (I'm Ol' Chumbucket, he's Cap'n Slappy,) our Web site has taken millions of hits, we've been on CNN, BBC and in newspapers and magazines around the world, and have sold a book to a major publisher. "Pirattitude" comes out from New American Library Sept. 6 – if we haven't mentioned it yet, you can order advance copies through our site, www.talklikeapirate.com.
Thanks for all being part of it. Our only disappointment so far is that the local YMCA still hasn't put up a brass plaque on court number three commemorating the event. But you never know, maybe this year is the year!
Keep spreading the word – and the word is "Arrr!"
-- Ol' Chumbucket
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