Thursday, October 30, 2014

A small world of pirates

Because I am at Disney World, or just about to go, or just returned from Disney World, all depending of your particular view of time, I thought I might like to share the joy of it all with you.

I know that half of you haven't the faintest interest in Disney World, and the other half harbor varying levels of affection and interest in Disney World ranging from "I'd go there" to "My heart bursts before you even finish pronouncing the 'Diz' part of Disney World!" But perhaps it is because of this great diversity that I want to bring everyone together. Also, really, I wanted to bring everyone together because in the end I believe it's a small world. 

After all.

So we're all going to get in a boat!

Don't worry, there are plenty of seats. This blog isn't the Smitten Kitchen or something. We can fit all my blog readers into one or two boats. Just step all the way down to the end of your row. We are going on a remembered ride through Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean, the greatest amusement park ride ever created. Since the ride is in my memory, it will be at the better Disneyland version, it will be before any Movie tie-in stuff was added, and it will not so perfectly correspond to the actual ride as it exists, but rather to its alchemy in my soul.


Our boat drifts slowly out into the southern swamps, the Louisiana Bayou. It is late dusk. Clouds smear across the moon and fog rises from the water. It's quiet and the smell of swamp and expectation is so lovely and powerful that the first time I went to the real southern swamps of America's Southeast I already knew them, from this. Old shack houses sit on stilts in the water among great cypress trees hanging with moss. The first stars appear in the sky. Fireflies are blinking about. An old man rocks his chair on his porch watching us float by. He knows more than we do even though we have been on this ride 40 or 50 times and he is just a robot.

I will tell you that many, many exciting things lie ahead of us beyond this quiet swamp, but nevertheless, this, this, with its moody evocativeness and leisurely anticipation, this, is the best part of the whole ride.

We enter a tunnel, a cave, darkness, and our boat plunges! Everything changes. It is our first shift. We are now deep in lost sea caves. The tone is quiet and haunted. We see scenes of past pirate disaster, a murder on treasure island with skeletons and jewels to tell the tale. All that is left alive here is a black bird. But what is life? A skeleton sits propped up in bed pouring over his maps. Down in lost lands of mythical treasures and terrible curses, picked clean corpses still go about their debaucheries, though there is no satisfaction left in them without flesh.

Now A skull, a talking skull adorning the entrance to the next tunnel haunts us with grim warnings.

And I will interrupt here, because the pace of this ride is slow enough, to note one amazing thing: Of course we don't think this is all actually happening, these tableaux, these tiny one act plays, or that any of it is real, but nevertheless we never question the space. We never think "Ah, we are merely traveling in a clever building. There is a wall. This is a set." We believe the space. We are someplace other, with undefined limits, neither inside or outside. We know it is proscribed, but also in our hearts we believe we are on a journey.

We plunge over another falls as the skull warns us and then...

Pirate song! Ribald revelry! The half chaos of rich and wild and amoral and silly and mad pirates. We see them feasting and wenching and drinking and enforcing their powers and lack of supervision, their absurd freedom. We see the florid drunkenness of their lovely, busy Caribbean town. And make what condemnations you like about pirates, but their music is excellent, and rousing!  We wander into a ship to shore cannon battle that is fascinating because we are so safe and it seems so gentle. The way a 16 lb. cannonball plunges into the water is so quietly fascinating.  Even gunfire and battle and people idly shooting guns and cannons off and lighting barrels of explosives is just more fuel for the party.

Until, of course, it all starts burning down. 

The whole town end to end is now burning. Trapped pirate prisoners beg a dog for their keys. Flames roar and how amazing it is that we can pass through them immune to heat. Our boats are immune on the water, but Pirate Town is burning to the ground!

Here too we have plenty of time to admire the disaster. We look into the deep glowing embers of the great beams of wood. We watch the licking flames that are made of something other than fire in the way that Michelangelo's David's hand is not a hand, but marble. Only somehow this is sillier, and includes a boat ride. 

And then, and then, and then!

it's over. Our boat goes uphill! We see the line where we started. There is a fake parrot and real people and the world we know and understand. We get ready to leave our boat, ready for the next thing. 

But I ask you this: Where exactly were we?

Please exit to your right.


  1. Aaaargh, tis true! The bones need flesh if there's 2 B pleasure!

  2. Squawk, Aye, Aye! Polly wants in on the booty, Squawk!

    1. Not that Polly isn't entitled, but what exactly does Polly do with the booty?

  3. Aaaargh har har! Tell the nice man what parrots do with gold dabloons, Polly. Ye dirty bird. Har har!

    1. I suppose I would be okay if Polly kept some bird secrets to herself.

  4. Replies
    1. I am thinking maybe I should move towards writing for more of a bird audience.


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