I have a deep-seated fascination with Pirates.
I am not entirely sure why this is. Normally, when some fashion or idea or career becomes popular I drop it like a hot-potato. (I prefered to wear jeans under my dresses when it was not so common a practice, and I live in fear of the day when I hear the band “The Weepies” on the radio.) I choose to support the underdogs. This is mainly in order to feed my own ego; anything that is popular doesn’t need me to be fan in any capacity, right?
None-the-less, pirates manage to continue capturing my attention despite their being quite fashionable at the moment. It is not that they are personally attractive – dirty guys who are normally missing body parts? Mmmm,
(Side note: Hygiene was not historically a mark of attractiveness. Napoleon once wrote to Josephine that while he was away on campaign she should avoid bathing, so that upon his return he could “wallow in her scent”.
Campaigns usually lasted a few months.)
So if it is not the visage of the pirates themselves that have the aura of shiny and romantic glamor, is it the career? Pirates were notorious for having more freedom than most navies of the 1700s and 1800s. The British Navy in particular was noted for its cruelty and tyrannical rules. A ship was a mini-country off at sea, and so discipline had to tightly maintained. But while those Brits did this with their ingrained sense of monarchy, Pirates were theoretically more democratic in their government.
“Theoretically” is the operative word here.
In theory, Pirates all voted for their commanding officers, everyone had a say in the choices of how to make money, and the loot was evenly distributed. Of course, when the captain starts to entangle bits of flaming gun-powder twists into his beard, the crew might not want to voice any of their contradictory opinions. But to be fair, most of the them were runaways from the British Navy and did not have many other options.
But still, the occupational requirements of robbing and pillaging and the occasional killing is not something that I can morally condone.
And then there was the fact that there were women pirates. Most of them – like Anne Bonny and Mary Read – made stupid decisions and deliberately flouted common sense and personal dignity, but the fact that there are real historical women pirates does give my occasional-closet-feminism a little thrill. (Grace O’Malley remains one of my favorite historical figure to this day. Topped only by Lady Moira, who pushed her Cromwellian husband off the top of her castle. Although the tale of Lady Moira was told by spastic tour guide around Galway and I not sure how truthful he was.)
But still, although they be smelly, immoral, crazy people, (twists of burning gun-powder in the beard, remember!) I think I would like to live as a pirate. For a few days.
And then I would take a long hot shower with much, much soap.
It is a willing suspension of belief on my part, choosing to think that pirates have a code of honor, a sense of humor, a dashing way of courting a lady, and a willingness to sacrifice it all for love. I am willing to delude myself that pirates are a particularly swash-buckling variety of Real Men.
I blame Errol.
And maybe Westly.
But probably not so much Captain Jack.
He looks offended at my choice. Eh, crazy eyes do not a Pirate make.
He is still not gentlemanly enough.
As a parting thought, I give you the Career Day Option: