Thursday, February 17, 2005


A Pirate Tale - part 34 "It's Not Personal"

Slappista listened at a distance as Sir Nigel told his tale – but something didn’t make sense. “Senor Nigel, I read in Pirattitude Monthly that you sailed aboard The Scourge of the Seas – did you not?” Sir Nigel moved up the beach to the trees where Slappista was kept in shackles, “Aye. That WAS my vessel – but it hasn’t been for over two years! I sold it to a Dutch spy … someone named, ‘Slotodoer, or Slotofucher, or Sloto - …”

“Maker?” Chumbucket inquired?

“Aye! That’s it exactly, my man – Slotemaker!”

“Not Baastian Slotemaker!” Doc Burgess interjected with some trepidation.

“Baastian the Bastard?” Slappy clarified.

“No, no, no” – Sir Nigel assured them – “he would have noticed the worm rot – I sold it to his twin brother, Bleeker – the spy. You could read all about it in last June’s issue Pirattitude Monthly.” Here, Sir Nigel shot a shameful glance at Slappista, “…if you kept your subscription up to date.”

Slappista looked at his feet in shame.

“Aye! Quiet, you!” Slappy added with some guilt that he had let his own subscription lapse.

After a hearty meal of delicious oyster stew in which they all sat transfixed by Sir Nigel’s tales of his feats of courage and skill, the party broke up and the men found nice, comfortable mounds of sand upon which to sleep. As they walked away from the fire, Sir Nigel caught up with Ol’ Chumbucket.

“Wonderful stew, my man! First rate!” Sir Nigel’s praise was gregarious – and suspiciously generous.

Ol’ Chumbucket just kept walking along. “I’ll pass your compliments along to the cook.”

Sir Nigel hesitated. “But Slappy told me you were the cook.”

Chumbucket stopped up short and turned to Sir Nigel. “Among the many things that make Cap’n Slappy a unique individual,” Chumbucket explained, “is his ability to be willfully and consistently wrong about people.”

“Examples?” Sir Nigel inquired.

Ol’ Chumbucket was careful with the moment – but now was his chance to get something off his chest. “For one thing, he insists that I am the ship’s cook when we have a five-star gourmet chef trained in Paris. For another, he doggedly persists in referring to his 8-year-old orphaned nephew, our powder monkey, as a “midget.” And finally, he has spent years operating under the mistaken impression that you, in fact, are the world’s greatest pirate!”

Winded from his tirade, Ol’ Chumbucket began to walk away. Sir Nigel called him to a halt.

“Now let me get this straight.” He began – almost confused. “You DON’T like me?”

“That’s correct.” Chumbucket replied using an economy of words.

“Seriously, you really DON’T like me?” Sir Nigel seemed confused by the concept.

Chumbucket opened his eyes wider and gave one nod of the head – as if he couldn’t think of how to make it any clearer.

“Well this is a puzzler.” Sir Nigel pondered for a moment.

“What have I ever done to you, Ol’ Chumbucket?” Nigel asked.


“Then why don’t you like and admire me like everyone else?” Sir Nigel seemed deeply hurt and confused.

“I just don’t.” Ol’ Chumbucket remained matter-of-fact and added, “It’s not personal.”

“It is to me.” Sir Nigel sounded a bit defensive now.

“You know, when you think about it, nothing is personal.” A voice from a few feet away cut into the conversation – it was Cementhands McCormack. He continued. “Interpersonal relationships – and therefore all of human connectedness are based on a complex series of needs assessments and the subsequent attempts to have those needs either satisfied and gratified or create more comfort or sense of meaning within the individual through the process of achieving distance or proximity. Closeness provides validation and distance lessens perceived pain and threat – but it really isn’t about the other individual. It’s all about our internal struggle for either sublimation of meaning making as we travel, ultimately alone, on this journey we call, ‘Life.’”

With that said, the big man wished them both “Nighty-night,” patted them both on the back and walked up the beach to find a nice comfortable sand dune in which to sleep.

“Did you understand any of that?” Sir Nigel asked blankly.

“Not a word.” Ol’ Chumbucket replied, “He just does that sometimes.”

“Do we have a quarrel?” Sir Nigel asked.

“No. I think we have an understanding.” Ol’ Chumbucket responded.

“That you don’t like me.” Sir Nigel reviewed the topic of discussion.

“It’s not personal!” McCormack’s voice carried down the beach.

Everyone went off to sleep.

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