Break out yer polka dotted bandana, strap a patch over yer bad eye and gird up yer loins with the pantaloons that don't have that embarrassing zipper problem, because Monday is National Talk Like A Pirate Day.
Now for those of ye landlubbers who aren't aware, September 19th is the day where you stop squeakin like a bilge rat with his breeches too tight and express yerself like someone a wee bit higher on the nautical food chain. Thar be nothin' tricky or difficult about it. Why, when a pirate is stumped for somethin' to say in conversation, he either says, "Arrr!" or he keelhauls the nearest landlubber. So carefully select a few letters of the alphabet (remember, growling, "Q!!" in someone's face is nowhere near as effective, no matter how many limbs you have replaced with wooden pegs) and get ready to Talk Like A Pirate.
Ten years ago, John Baur and Mark Summers came up with the idea after a near miss with a groin pull during a racquetball game. Well, that's their best theory, at least. They can't remember what combination of rackets, near injuries and sweaty men inspired them to begin talking like pirates, but once they started, they agreed they should never have to stop. The only date they could remember with any regularity was Ex-Mrs. Summer's birthday (which she amiably declined to sick lawyers on them for) and so they decided that September 19th would forever hence be known as Talk Like A Pirate Day.
From there, the new holiday failed to take off like a rocket. The day lollygagged about in the harbor of anonymity for years, gathering barnacles amongst their small circle of friends, until early in the year 2002, Baur and Summers contacted the one man who could help them. The one man who would understand in his heart of hearts how much the world needed this holiday, and who had the clout to bring it to folk across the seven seas. The one man who probably never gets tired of the joke where the boy asks the pirate why he has to wear an eyepatch and is confused to hear that it was because a seagull made doody in the pirate's eye. ("Arr!" the pirate holds up his left arm, which ends at the wrist, "Twas the first day with me new hook!") The one guy who finds pirates so entertaining that he worked the word "Arr!" into his nom de plume -- humor superstar, Dave Barry.
The mighty Dave Barr!y latched onto the idea and shivered timbers the world over with the concept, breathing wind into the sails of Talk Like A Pirate Day, which has been flying across the choppy waters of popular culture like the fleetest of clipper ships ever since.
In honor of the holiday, I have assembled a few simple do's and don'ts.
- DO feel free to elaborate upon the basic staple of "Arr!" with more complex Pirate Day sayings, such as "Arr, aye, arrgh!"
- DO refer to any beverage you might be drinking as "grog," any cash on hand as "dubloons," any pet in the vicinity as a "parrot," and any cylindrical object as a "timber."
- DO attempt to form a boarding party and plunder something at least once over the course of the holiday.
- DO NOT refer to any lasses in the area as "wenches" or make disparaging remarks about the captain's daughter unless ye want to be pickin splinters of yer own timbers out of the few teeth ye have left.
- DO NOT say, "Heh heh, burn!" That's Talk Like a Pyro Day.
- DO NOT say, "Polly want a cracker?" That's Talk Like A Parrot Day.
- DO NOT say, "Sir, yes, sir!" That's Talk Like a Private Day.
- DO NOT say, "And who has been named executor of the deceased's will?" That's Talk Like a Probate Day.
- DO NOT coat yourself in iron sulfide and then sit around in silence waiting for a miner to find you and get all excited before realizing you're relatively valueless - that's Talk Like a Pyrite Day.
- DO NOT make illegal copies of DVDs and pop albums. That's Talk Like a Copyrighted Material Pirate Day.
- DO NOT put on a Linux teeshirt, hornrimmed glasses and pants that come up to your armpits and then discuss "untraceable IP addresses" and "free downloads of Microsoft Office." That's Talk Like a Software Pirate Day. (And Bill Gates is big into keelhauling, matey!)
Visit Baur's and Summers' official Talk Like a Pirate website.
Comments and tales of the briny deep to Alex.Queen@gmail.com
This article first appeared in the September 18, 2005 issue of the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.