Heresy: Pirate confesses fondness for light blue

Published 2:08 am Friday, January 25, 2008

By Staff
Kids resist attempts to brainwash
I am proud to be an alum of East Carolina University. My six and a half years there (no, I didn’t get my master’s degree) were some of the best of my life … I’m told.
Now, don’t get the impression that most of my time in Greenville was spent partying downtown. (I only went there at nights.) I must admit I played hard in school; I also worked very hard. Between waiting tables at Darryl’s, assistant managing at Allen’s Shoes and playing drums with Joe Distefano’s jazz trio — I almost made enough to cover the checks I had written.
I owe a lot to ECU. My Ivy League-ish education enabled me to start a sky-is-the-limit ascension up the ranks of the upstart newspaper business. I proudly hail my alma mater and the prestige that comes with having graduated from the “Harvard of the South.”
But, I’m not a one-university man. My allegiance to the purple and gold is strong, but not exclusive. I am a conflicted man with my arm around one school, and an eye for another.
I must admit to a lifelong love of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.
There. It’s out. I cannot continue to live a lie.
I would have matriculated to UNC, but I found it lacking greatly academically compared to ECU. On the other hand, Carolina found my SAT score to be lacking greatly compared to the “average” student. It was not a match made in Blue Heaven — their loss.
I’ve tried to fight these urges. I was a Tarheel born and bred who later became a Pirate. My pop was a proud Carolina graduate who brainwashed all of his children at the altar of Dean Smith. How can I reject my past without dishonoring the memory of my father, Dean Smith, apple pie and Chevrolet? (Actually, we were more of a Plymouth family.)
Anguish. Despair. Conflicted emotions. Frazzled nerves. Unbearable pain. It’s like watching The View.
My apologies to the Pirate Nation: I am a double agent, not to be trusted by either side. The ECU logo on my sweatshirt should be covered with a scarlet “A.” I have tried to raise little Pirates in my home. I’m hoping the Tarheel sins of the father won’t be visited upon my sons.
I am using every known tactic to coerce my kids into loving the Pirates. It’s just the right thing to do. After all, my degree is from there, a lot of my money (and the occasional good check) went there, we live near there, we go to many athletic events there, I learned to write “there” there. (OK, I’ll stop.)
I’ve tried everything: Pavlovian bell ringing; Beatles records played backwards; candy depravity; subliminal messages in video games, even out-and-out begging to enlist just one more Pirate fan in the family. (Could it be that my wife — a Carolina grad — has been subverting my Austin Powers-inspired mind control techniques? Hmmm?)
I think it’s too late.
My kids intuitively sense that my attempts to Pirate-ize them are disingenuous. They are not impressed with ECU caps, T-shirts, football uniforms or UBE gift certificates. They are drawn to light blue clothing, wall paint, book bags and athletic paraphernalia. They’re hooked on the Tarheels.
Dogs and kids can smell fear and manipulation. (Try coaxing a dog — or a child for that matter — into taking a bath sometime. You don’t think they know it’s coming … but they know.)
If you’re a Pirate fan, you must think I’m Benedict Arnold. You should know: My allegiance is very much to Skip, Terry and even Pee-Dee, our ridiculous mascot. (Someone please tell me, why “Pee-Dee”?) I always pull for ECU over UNC when they compete at any level. My heart beats to the pulse of the ECU fight song. (I’m humming it now, in fact.)
I fear that I have alienated my reader(s). If you hate Carolina, you hate me too, now. If you love ECU, you think I’m a two-timing cad. That leaves only Wake Forest fans that aren’t offended, and, who cares about them*?
My boss, Brownie Futrell, is the number-one Dookie on this planet. I think he has long suspected my Tarheel tendencies. We’ve observed an unspoken don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy on the matter — until now. I’ve given him yet another reason to fire me. (There’s a long list.)
Oh well, maybe Joe Distefano is looking for a drummer.
*I care, Beth, Mark, Keith, Anne and Dan … just having a little fun. Please, no phone calls.
I have just heard back from “the authorities.” The American Medical Association (AMA) declined to endorse my 10-step Plan for Health &Wealth (shared exclusively with WDN readers in December). The AMA cited issues of “decency, appropriateness and public health concerns.” There was something else about the FDA “shutting down the newspaper” and an “investigation by the attorney general,” blah, blah, blah, etc.
Ray McKeithan is associate publisher of the Washington Daily News. If you have any questions or comments about column topics or content and operations at the WDN, please send an email to: or call 252-940-4205