McKeithan Column

Published 11:34 pm Friday, September 19, 2008

By Staff
Hey, buddy — can I borrow your boat?
Wants to become a real-life Pirate … aaarrrrrrrghhh!
Editor’s note: This column — with some alterations and additional hyperbole — was originally published on March 7, 2008. It appears today as a random choice from a small collection of lame columns. Some disjointed references to ECU are included for no apparent journalistic reason. The slacker columnist offers this unintelligible excuse for not writing a new column this week, “I gots me Pirate Fever, baby!”
After two decades of working for “the man,” I have amassed a sizable nest egg. Crown Royal bags full of coins — hidden carefully on top of my dresser — attest to sacrifice, hard work and a nifty packaging gimmick for whiskey.
(I do not drink Crown. I do, however, seem to have an odd collection of purple velvet pouches with gold stitching and a tie string.)
Several people heard the jingling sound of “success” each time I dropped one of the bags on the way to the coin machine at the grocery store. My dramatic entrance through the automatic doors with 10 velveteen bags announced to the world: “I have arrived!”
Not one to act on frivolous buying impulses, I was inspired recently (after seeing the “awesome” pirate ship at Dowdy-Ficklen stadium) to make a shrewd investment that will bring years of fun for the family.
It was time to buy a boat and become a pirate, for real. I will plunder ships of all sizes on the Pamlico in search of bounty and unknown treasures. I will be the “Scourge of the East.” I will be invited to walk out with Skip Holtz amidst a cloud of purple smoke as Hendrix blares loudly across Bagwell Field.
No longer would I have to bear the indignity of making the following phone call to dear, rich friends:
Hey, Jimmy. It’s a great day to be on the river.
It’s “Ray,” you’re such a kidder.
But wait, I thought maybe we could take your boat out today and have lunch on Ocracoke, I’ll even give you $10 for gas this time, if you’ll take care of lunch … I’m bringing my family.
No problem, can WE take your boat out then? I made a copy of your key. I promise not to play chicken with the crab pots anymore. OK?
After having my largesse converted into one-dollar bills at the supermarket — I grabbed the missus, told her of my investment plans, and we were off to shop for boats. On the way over I explained to my wife our negotiation strategy; let ME do all the talking. I knew she was down with the plan when she made no comment and continued to stare out the side window with her face hidden by her beautiful flaxen hair.
As we entered the boat dealership, I had another opportunity to make a grand entrance and announce that a real “player” had arrived: “I’ve got five-HUNDRED dollars that ain’t doin’ nothin’ … I want me a boat!” I proudly struck my best superhero pose with one arm held high while waving a fistful of dollars fanned-out like a card hand.
As I walked to the larger boats, the salesman grabbed me by the arm and led me to the other side of the building to a craft that looked very similar to the kiddie boats at county fairs. You know the ones — they’re attached by a spoke to a hub and go around in a cement trough of water about a foot deep. The steering wheels go ’round but aren’t connected to anything.
My wife looked at the salesman and said, “Ray didn’t grow up around water and he knows nothing about boats.” In other words, she was really saying — in boat talk — “my husband’s an idiot and you should disregard anything he says. Don’t even make eye contact.”
I was not deterred. I began asking probing questions.
I was on a roll …
The salesman ignored me and continued talking to my wife. “Of course, with this small boat a trolling motor should do,” he advised.
After a very long silence, the salesman turned and walked to his office. My wife, head down, shuffled to the car. No more words were spoken. I stood — alone — basking in the self-satisfaction of knowing I had left them both speechless.
A player, indeed.
DISCLAIMER: The preceding account was a story based on actual events. It was verbally “enhanced” because my real life is pretty boring, and not a good read. The character references have been changed because I’m not good with names. Any embellishment or exaggeration was necessary to fully develop the story line. You will never know which parts of this story are true, because I will never tell. (Although, the comments about my wife being beautiful are absolutely true.) Go Pirates.
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.