At the beginning of fifth grade, my first year at David Lipscomb Middle School, I auditioned for the play, Don’t Rock the Boat, and landed a part playing “Antonio from Bamboola.” Antonio is a pirate who commandeers a cruise ship.
I wore all black, a fake mustache, and a red sash for a belt. The only line I remember occurred when the people aboard the cruise ship were panicking, and I screamed, “Shut ah-uhp!” in an atrocious Italian accent.
I relished that line because we weren’t allowed to say, “Shut up,” at home. “Crap” and “butthead” were also off limits, and “sucks” would have brought fire from heaven.
My cousin Kristen was only a month older than me but a year ahead in school, thanks to my stellar performance in Kindergarten and subsequent role in Pre-First. She was also l in the play, so on Wednesdays Aunt Susan and my mom took turns picking us up after play practice. When Aunt Susan picked us up, I would stay at their house until we all went to church.
That was back when being a good Christian meant going to church three times a week, on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights. Good Christians “do not forsake the assembly,” and “not forsaking” involves showing up every time the doors are open. The “Do not forsake the assembly” verse appears in Hebrews 10, but I have been unable to find the passage where the writer of Hebrews goes on to explain the inseparability of a bible class on Wednesday night and holy living.
I will try harder.
One Wednesday, Kristen stayed at home sick, my aunt forgot about play practice, and my mom assumed that my aunt was picking me up.
After being a pirate for an hour and a half, I walked out of Acuff Chapel, where we practiced, and sat down on the curb to wait for my ride.
One by one, the other kids left with their parents, but no grown-up appeared to chauffeur me. I began to feel less and less pirate-ish. In 1993, pirates didn’t carry cell phones, so they had no way to call their moms. In those days, naive, young pirates still trusted those closest to them. Grown-ups were supposed to appear in a mini-van to pick you up and take you home.
I kept sitting and sitting on the curb believing that a family member, an “I’m sorry,” and a trip to Baskin Robbins or the baseball card shop would happen at any moment.
Then darkness fell.
By the time I thought to walk to my cousins’ house less than a mile away, they would have already left for church.
I was alone.
I would always be alone.
My parents had forgotten about me.
Pretty soon, they would forget that I even existed.
Maybe it would have been better if I’d never been born at all.
My mom and aunt didn’t realized their mistake until they saw each other at the dinner before church and realized that neither had a novice pirate in tow. By the time, the headlights of my mom’s van finally washed over me, I was near tears.
Once my backpack and I were safely stowed in the Mazda MPV, my pirate-ness returned. I’m sure I milked my mom’s oversight for weeks.
Pirates never forget.
I’ve been a pirate ever since.
Moral of the story: Trust no one.