Why Pirates

It all began a very long time ago, when a merchant ship was set upon by pirates of the Singh Brotherhood…wait a minute…that’s a different story. This story starts when I was a kid. We lived in a rural area and there were very few restaurants so we didn’t eat out much. The small towns in that area usually had a cafe or steakhouse and maybe a Dairy Queen if you were lucky (or unlucky depending on how you feel about Dairy Queen). On occasion we would make a trip to the nearest ‘city’ to shop for something we couldn’t get locally or maybe see a movie. This, of course, meant that we would get to eat someplace ‘exotic’. For me, it didn’t get any more exotic than Long John Silvers.

I loved Long John’s for so many reasons. First of all, it was seafood. I know that some would argue that what they serve hardly qualifies as seafood, but when you’re a kid growing up in rural Texas those greasy planks of mystery fish totally count as seafood.

Another thing I loved was the decor. In the olden days, the restaurants were designed as if they were ships that had just sailed into port and docked for your dining pleasure. You actually walked on a wooden “dock” to enter and exit the restaurant. The inside of the restaurants were filled with all things nautical/piratical from ceiling to floor. It was amazing.

I could go on and on about the container the kids meal came in or the fact that it came with a cardboard pirate hat that was actually black with a skull and cross bones on it (instead of some stupid neutral colors with the company logo), but the best thing by far was the treasure chest.

I know now that the treasure chest was just a glorified gumball machine, but at the time it seemed magical. This is how it worked. Each kids meal included a gold coin retrieved by divers from a sunken pirate ship. Now that I think about it, they must have just been some cheap metal tokens, but that’s not the point. In those days you would (were forced to) enter the restaurant through one door and exit through another (like an amusement park ride). By the time the meal was over, that gold coin (aluminium token) was burning a hole in your tiny pocket. As you got up to leave, you would turn down the narrow hallway that led to the exit…and there it was…the treasure chest! The chest seemed to be glowing as if by some piratical magic (it was probably just lit from the inside by a small appliance bulb). It was filled with all kinds of amazing toys, one of which would be yours forever after you deposited your token and turned the knob (or at least until you lost it down the crack of the backseat later that afternoon).

What can I say. It was an experience that left a lasting impression on me as a boy and sparked an interest in all things piratical that continues to this day.

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