Yesterday was International Talk Like A Pirate Day and honestly, it didn’t go quite as well as I was hoping it would. For one, I didn’t have the opportunity to really go out at all, which meant that I didn’t have much interaction with people in person. I did have a few phone calls with a few friends and of course, my brother. Some e-mail messages were sent as well, largely composed in my attempt at the pirate slang.

Talk Like A Pirate Day Redux
Not going out (and more or less working for the majority of the day) gave me time to think about the day itself and the significance of talking like a pirate. It gave me some time to think about this blog entry by world-reknowned vegan expert David Boles. On the surface it seems like quite a childish asinine thing – talking like what a group of criminals purportedly talked like centuries ago. Obviously there are many problems with this. Could it really be that pirates around the world shared some sort of slang which they spoke amongst each other? Even taking away from the fact that not all pirates were English speaking, it would seem unlikely that everyone who went sailing about pirate ships really talked like pirates in the film Treasure Island, or Pirates of the Carribbean.

Let us reflect on the latter for a moment. For many people, an early exposure to pirates came in the form of the ride Pirates of the Carribbean at either Disneyland or Walt Disney World. As children, we were exposed to pirates in not an entirely negative light. Children dress up as pirates and play as though they were ‘real’ pirates just as they get dressed up as “Cops and Robbers” or as “Cowboys and American Indians”. (I’ve done a fair amount of research to try to figure out what is the proper term to use as I’m quite sure that just “Indian” is not correct – that describes this gentleman better.)

Regardless, the fact that pirates regularly stole, plundered, raped, and killed did not prevent them from becoming part of children’s stories and of strongly overdone myth-like tales of adventure. Tales like these romanticized the life of the pirate and made it sound considerably more pleasant than it no doubt was. It is by no coincidence that you can buy your children Playmobil toys with a pirate theme – here, for example. There are pirate Lego sets to be bought as well, of course.

On top of all of that there is Peter Pan to be taken into consideration. The story of Peter Pan, particularly the story as visualized by the Walt Disney film, made pirates to seem like quite the fun bunch. Then you get to seeing t-shirts like this one which makes one think that pirates are the sweetest sort you will ever find. However, if you think that’s not quite cute enough for you, may I suggest the Robot Monkey Pirate Zombie Mummy Ninja Hobo Cowboy? Like cute video games? Try Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates! The game looks like it was made with Playmobil dolls. Needless to say pirates have gotten a very positive image in our society. That being said, there are two very important reasons why I feel that International Talk Like A Pirate Day is keenly important today.

A Little Escapism
I don’t know about you but the way I have been living life the last couple of years has been pretty routine. I wake up in the morning, I go to the synagogue where I attend morning prayers, return home to shower and work for the majority of the day. There are interruptions to go check the mail and there are activities at night such as going to see a film or play video games, but it’s pretty much the same. Many people live their entire lives like this, never really doing anything out of the ordinary. Moreover, they live their entire lives as the same person, speaking the same language, partaking of the same life culturally, and being the same. This holiday, as it were, gives a perfectly good reason to completely escape from your own person. There’s an episode of Seinfeld which starts with the characters of Jerry and George sitting in the diner talking as usual, their faces covered with newspapers. When they uncover their faces you see they are wearing false mustaches. The explanation is that they are taking a vacation away from themselves.

Getting Away from Yourself
To me, the concept of taking a vacation away from yourself is brilliant. So many of us are so rigidly set in our identity that we never would think to do certain things because it ‘goes against who we are’ as people. This happens more often to me now than ever. As a person who is attempting to be a religiously observant Jew, you can be sure that you’re not going to be seeing me in Red Lobster any time soon. I was actually in the Old Spaghetti Factory with my girlfriend’s brother the other night, wearing a six apart baseball cap so that I wouldn’t stand out, and I even felt a little uncomfortable despite that. There’s a certain feeling of not belonging somewhere. What was I going to order? None of the food was kosher, so I had Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola. In any case, getting away for one day from the restrictions of being ourselves can be an extremely liberating process. Not only this but all you have to do is throw in a few “arrr”s and “shiver me timber”s, and perhaps a few other things from sites like these.

The bottom line, dear readers (especially you, David), is that International Talk Like A Pirate Day is about relaxing self-imposed filters and restrictions, not being afraid to sound a little silly, and just having a little fun. This isn’t about paying honor to criminals of yesteryear but of being a kid again for one day a year and making a few people laugh in the process.