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Santa Maria Pirate Weekend, May 2011 - Columbus, OH

Mission with Fleam Stick
Photo: Mission's Camera
Mission with his shiny new
madPete-designed Fleam Stick.
Herein for ye is the account of the good...no... make that great... well, let's not soft-pedal it... stupendous Mercury Surgeon Mission detailing his most recent visit to the ship Santa Maria which lay more-or-less permanently moored in the Scioto River in Columbus, Ohio. Detailed will be all that took place during this latest adventure as the pirates boarded it, cluttered it up, strew hammocks around ut, got tolerably oiled aboard it and educated all who entered it despite the potential for rain and mud. (There was lots and lots of potential mud, based on the photos from the previous weeks that your ship's surgeon saw.) Boarded they did, stayed they did, braving all that and generally had a really good time. Not talk like Yoda did they, despite much of this dumb introduction.

Chapter 1st. Speaking of the arrival of the pirates, old and new faces among them - including an irresistible moppet, droids (yes, droids), whiskies, a previously unknown-to-our-author water trick, gauntlets, ghosts and goblins... Well, OK, there were really were no goblins whatsoever of which I am honestly aware. It just seemed to go with "gauntlets, ghosts and..." Also ever a search for pirates to go to Cleveland. Yep, Cleveland.

Confused German Shepherd
Photo: Some pet owner
Even he thinks it was a dumb joke.

I arrived in Columbus after a long drive which I will not describe because I have been told that this part of these stories is not germane. Shepherding myself to the Santa Maria...my that was a long reach for a bad joke... OK, hold up. I have to say two things about the journey. First, I stopped at Panera in Marion (my grandmother's name - spelled differently, though) for dinner. There I overheard a young woman who I'm pretty certain couldn't have been more than 17 being interviewed for a teaching position. I hope she got the offer, although Panera seemed like a funny place to interview a teacher to me. Second, the sound track for the trip consisted entirely of John Powell's score for the movie Knight and Day, which was a better movie than I thought it would be. Plus I liked the sound track. Enough so that I bought it. Maybe you should give it a chance. Wasn't that germane? Chocolate cake-like, even. (I know, I know. That one was even worse. I'll stop.)

Michael in a Hammock
Photo: Mission
Michael holding the tail of a Rodent of Unusual Size

Boarding the Santa Maria, I found Michael Bagley hanging around (in this case, literally) in a hammock. The ship was otherwise deserted as all hands had been given leave so that they could go a-carousing at the Spaghetti Warehouse. I'm guessing they had left Michael behind specifically to greet me. (Well, they must have done because I'm the only one that arrived before they returned.) I thought this was very sporting of them. I hope they had fun on their shore leave.

Actually, I must confess - being the ship's surgeon - that I did not look forward to giving them all treatment for the filthy diseases and illnesses they would pick up in town. Nothing is worse for we surgeons than shore leave, with all its incidences of overindulgent food sicknesses (purging for that lot) and the Pox (A night with Venus; a lifetime with Mercury, as the saying goes.) Well, OK, scurvy is worse than shore leave, but only just. Nothing else is worse. Except for an outbreak of the plague. Scurvy and the plague, but everything else is better than shore leave illnesses. I suppose there are those awful battle splinters. Scurvy, the plague and battle splinters. But that's it! Besides ship's fever... Scurvy, the plague, battle splinters and ship's fever are worse than shore leave illnesses, but I'd sooner face the rest of it! Oh, I forgot powder burns...

The Mayor, Governator and Someone Who Could Take 
       Them Both
Photo: Someone who will hopefully never see this

I confess that I was a bit puzzled by the absolute forest of hammocks strung from the rafters of the rear deck, all of which appeared to remain in place throughout the weekend. My puzzlement stemmed from the fact that I'm pretty certain that we had been told on past Santa Maria pirate weekends that we weren't to have hammocks, especially during the day since the Santa Maria wouldn't have historically had such. I later learned that we pirates were given a reprieve from this otherwise inviolable rule by no less than the Mayor of Columbus, whom you see here with some other people of lesser import just moments before he made the grand pronouncement of clemency from the hammock rule. Gor bless you, sah.

Now I had arrived at twilight, and much had already taken place in preparing the ship. Diosa had flown in from Florida earlier that day and helped the Santa Maria prep-crew out by taking several pictures. So I thought I'd share them. (She also wrote an account of the weekend on her website. You will find part one here and part two here.) The photos are basically of Michael Bagley and Mark Gist getting the Green Black Sheep over from the boat ramp to the Santa Maria for Saturday's battle. Unfortunately for them, recent flooding had brought loads of mud up onto the boat ramp which needed to be cleared by hand. Fortunately for your ship's surgeon, he arrived late enough to avoid any such work. (Besides, a surgeon's hands are delicate instruments. At least that's what I heard.)

Michael & 
       Mark Clearing Boat Ramp of Mud
Photo: Diosa
Michael watches as Mark Gist clears the boat ramp of mud before
ordering take out (as required by dictate).
Michael & Mark Bringing in Black Sheep
Photo: Diosa
Michael and Mark getting ready to ransack Columbus in the
Green Black Sheep


The one, the only, the original
Photo: GL
The one, the only, the original
Since no one else was about and hanging around in a hammock is a really quite boring if you're not asleep, Michael and I decided to go up to the front of the Santa Maria where he shared some of his Crown Royal Reserve with me. There we talked of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings; and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings. We were regularly interrupted by text messages from Kate Bagley, who was at the Spaghetti Factory a-carousing, as mentioned. These interruptions came via Michael's Android phone, which would announce this in peculiarly sonorous way using the word "Droid!" While his phone looked nothing like a droid to me, I must confess that I was quite taken with the odd intonation of the word and probably repeated it often enough during the rest of the evening that all aboard wished I weren't and seriously considered me throwing me over-.

M.A. d'Dogge in loud Smoking Jacket
Photo: Diosa
The one, the only, the original

Michael also received another call. Before I explain that, let us reverse the tape here for a second, so that I can explain that while I was at the Panera in Marion, No Quarter Given posted on Facebook that people at Disney were looking for pirate re-enactors near Cleveland, Ohio to be around for the opening of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie on the coming Thursday. "Must have good pirate look, be able to speak live on camera (ad lib), and stay in character. " I suggested M.A. d'Dogge. (See? Germane. Sorry I don't have another joke for this one. All I could think of was 'Potato Salad' and I can't quite figure how to start a sentence with that so that it makes any sense. I have some pride in my writing, you know.) Anyhow, when I heard Michael mention M.A. d'Dogge, I knew he must be talking with someone about the very same Cleveland gig. Apparently my Facebook suggestion was not enough.

Even though I was only able to hear Michael's side of the conversation, I could tell that this person was a) very desperate and b) clueless about how re-enactors behaved. I could just see some nervous guy in a cubicle in Disney Studios Marketing Department with his boss standing in the doorway as he tried to get pirate re-enactors to commit to a gig taking place next week. I couldn't understand why he didn't call Pittsburgh. (Maybe they had a game that night.) Michael said he do what he could because we had the majority of the pirate re-enactor crowd closest to Cleveland on the Santa Maria this weekend. With some difficulty, and multiple assurances that he would do what he could, he rang off.

Blue Jessica
Photo: Mission
Not too long after that the crew returned. There were several familiar faces along with a number of new ones. Among the people I recalled from the last Santa Maria Talk Like a Pirate Day was Blue Jessica. (That's Blue Jessica at left there, holding a bottle that is purely for medicinal purposes. I'm the surgeon, I should know.) Blue Jess had had so much fun at the last Santa Maria gig that she had been quite looking forward to this one. She is very active in a local Ren Faire near her and I learned that she was to be the queen of said faire this year. (For those of you who know nothing of Ren Faires (like me), this is apparently quite a big deal. I just hope she doesn't get too puffed about about it and let it all go to her royal head.)

Among the people I didn't know was her daughter Lilli, who was as cute as a bug...and knew it. Lily takes after her mother, by which I mean that she is a gigantic flirt. In fact she spent much of the weekend pestering following your surgeon around and poking him and so forth. Fortunately, I am made of stern stuff and stood stalwart in the face of this charming little moppet and her stuffed kitten.

Lily and Her Kitten Photo: Mission
Lilli and her kitten, whose name I forget. More
about that later.
Lily Reading
Photo: Mission
Where do pirates read?

Lily Pirates Read Photo: Mission
Whereever they want!
(What do you mean stick to stupid German jokes?)

Luckily she had to be put down fairly soon after that. (Not that way! To sleep. She's a little girl and that means going to bed early. Don't you know anything?) Having been prepared for the evening's festivities by the Crown Royal Reserve (which is pretty potent stuff), I thought I was ready for anything. This was good, because anything soon arrived in the form of Dan. Dan appeared with Deb, towing a loaded wagon. At first I thought they wanted to stow away, but that must not only be done in the dark of night, it must be done in secret. They had arrived as bold as you please. As it turned out that they were invited. I believe they were the distant cousin of someone's aunt's nephew twice removed.

Photo: Mission
Potential Stowaways?
Dan Adding Water to Scotch
Photo: Mission
Dan adding a few drops of water to scotch
Dan had brought some single-malt scotch with him. As regular readers of these tomes might recall, your surgeon has a particular fondness for single malt scotches. Dan offered me some and I could see that he and I would get along famously.

He had brought with him a bottle of Laphroaig. (Laphroaig is Spanish for "the frog." If it were Lephroaig, it would have been French. Why a Scottish Whiskey has a Spanish name is a question for the ages.) As he poured it into my mug, Dan explained that I should add a few drops of water to it to "release the taste." I had never heard of doing this, but he assured me that this is how they did it in finer bars in Scotland. I have been there, but apparently not to a finer bar, because they never offered me any water. (This will surprise no one, I'm sure.)

So I added a few drops of water, per instructions. I can't be sure that it released the taste, because Laphroaig is a very peaty scotch. 'Peaty' is probably another Spanish word, one that means "eau de rotten logs." You know those kinds of logs that have been lying on the ground for what must have been decades? You kick them and they practically disintegrate into soft, pliable hunks of wood which release an extraordinarily strong woody smell. That's what peaty scotch tastes like. It's an acquired taste, which is code for, "You probably won't like it." Michael sniffed it and immediately passed on a tasting. I have had many different kinds of single malt scotch and have even had Laphroaig in the past, so I was prepared, even if I didn't notice whether the taste had been fully released or not.

Gangplank Gauntlet
Photo: Mission
By this time, everyone had drinks, so, for whatever reason, we all decided to go hang out on the gangplank, forming a sort of human gauntlet. "None shall pass!" was our unspoken motto. As will happen in such gatherings, people came and went on the gangplank gauntlet. By the end of the night, I am pretty sure that everyone took a turn at hanging out there. It was quite the local Santa Maria hot spot on Friday.

Among the people who appeared Friday evening was Richard (wearing a red kerchief in the photo below) from Put-in-Bay. He had dressed in his pirate garb, driven down for the evening just to hang out and return to the island for Saturday. I believe they were having some sort of alcohol-tasting event on Put-in-Bay or parts thereabout that weekend. Richard is quite the connoisseur of bourbons and I knew he would have to be available for comment if an event was taking place in his home port. So we only got to see him on Friday night, which was too bad for the Santa Maria event.

Richard the Gatekeeper Guards 
        the Gauntlet Photo: Mission
Richard serving as the gatekeeper

M.A. d'Dogge and Diosa 
       enjoying absinthe
Photo: Mission
Aren't Diosa's & MD's little absinthe cups cute?
Now you may be wondering what happened to M.A. d'Dogge playing pirate in Cleveland which I mentioned previously and then sort of dropped. (Even if you're not, I'm going to tell you.) Michael and I put the idea of his attending the opening of the Cleveland showing of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie to Mr. d'Dogge, who was enjoying some absinthe he brought with him. We explained that he would be perfect, with his ability to ad-lib. M.A. d'Dogge corrected us, explaining that, "I only got five minutes of shtick. Once you get to six minutes, everyone's in trouble." Plus he could not get off work because it was, in his words, "Hell week!" Then he went back to drinking his absinthe.

For those of you not familiar with absinthe, let me enlighten you. It an alcoholic beverage which is made from Wormwood, a minor devil in the book The Screwtape Letters. He apparently is made of licorice-flavored cough syrup, because that is what absinthe tastes like to your author. It does clear your sinuses up very nicely, however. Diosa and M.A. d'Dogge were quite taken with it and drank much of it on this voyage.

Bat who?
The one, the only, the imagined
Absinthe is also said to have the property of causing some people to see green fairies - I guess this is a property possessed by alcohol made from demon trainees.

Now I don't want to get everyone all excited here, but there were fairies about the Santa Maria on Friday night as you can see in the series of photos below. I can't say for certain that this was due in any part to the absinthe, because the fairies had a decidedly yellow cast to them, but they were out there. As you will see below, Michael Bagley and Mark Gist did what they could to capture one or more of them, but didn't quite manage it. It's really a shame, because I'm pretty certain that the National Enquirer would have paid a hefty ransom for a photo of an absinthe fairy, green or not. In fact, I think The Sun would be willing to pay for a badly rendered sketch of one, which they could then put on the front page posing with bat boy in a badly edited composite photo/sketch.

Michael tries to lasso a fairy Photo: Mission
Michael trying to lasso a non-green fairy.
(Fairies appear as little balls of yellow
light in this story,)
Mark trying to catch the faries Photo: Mission
Mark chases fairies by the ship.
(Ignore the dust speck reflection. Some
claim those are spirits, but they're crazy.)
Mark still after the faries Photo: Mission
More of Mark chasing the absinthe
fairies. They seem to be clustering
in this shot...

After all that excitement, I decided it must be time to leave. Well, that, everyone had stopped hanging out on the gangplank and I definitely didn't want anything more to drink. (I do not recommend mixing absinthe, Crown Royal Reserve and Laphroiag all in one evening.) So I staggered (literally) back to the Hyatt, which is where Priceline always seems to put me. (Not that I am complaining.) In fact, it was pretty nice because I had no trouble finding my way there, even with the hour being late, my mental state a bit fuzzy and my faithful luggage, Phydeax following rather raggedly behind me on his hind wheels.

On arrival, I staggered up to the counter, gave my name and was given a key with the warning that, "You're on a locked floor. You must insert your card into the slot in the elevator or you won't be able to press the 19th floor button." Ah. Noted and understood. In the elevator, I encountered a pilot or copilot who appeared to me to be pretty sober. (Not that I was a very good judge at that point.) He, however, did not understand the desk clerk's instructions for some reason and it was up to the drunken surgeon Mission to explain why he couldn't just press the 20th floor button. "Ah, it's one of those," he remarked with urbane off-handedness. I'll bet he was chasing green fairies just 20 minutes before.

I leave you with two photos, one of a row of busses, which is actually a photo I have tried to get before on my way to the Hyatt, but it always came out too blurry to post. I guess the absinthe/Crown Royal Reserve/Laphroaig touch was needed. (Can't you just hear the busses talking as they sit there. "Can you believe it? That lady that rides the whole route and then gets off at the same stop she got on at rode me again today!" " Dat's nothin'! I had a whole bunch a' third graders who went from da' museum to da' ice cream shop and den back to da' school. My floor boards is so sticky right now! Ew!" "Yeah, well at leas' yur got yur windsheil' wipers replassed las' mont'. I can harly see for all the finnerprins on my winnows!" OK, maybe the absinthe/Crown Royal Reserve/Laphroaig touch was too much.) The other photo (below right) is an interactive one that proves the existence of ghostly spirits in city hall. Either that or my head was sliding down the window when I took the second photo. To see what I mean, mouse over the photo below right.

When Busses Gather
Photo: Mission
City Hall Spirits
Photo: Mission

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