You work hard. Between vet appointments and housecleaning and the 9-to-5 grind at the acid mines or nail factory or law dispensary or whatever you do for a living, you’re beat. And you long for nothing more than to cut loose and blow off steam in a manner most piratey. You reach for the rum and cigars, but then remember the doctor told you to cut back. You’d settle for striking a jaunty pose, but your knee isn’t what it used to be. You could say bugger it all, grab a flintlock and raid the neighbors poolside tiki bar, but there’s that damned restraining order to think about…
So what’s a modern pirate to do? All you ask is the chance to swash the occasional buckle, but Talk Like a Pirate Day is months away and your hearty crewmates are all busy with their kids at judo practice and ballet recitals. You’re too landlocked to steal a dinghy, and too broke and/or out-of-shape for any respectable carousing.
Whenever the call of the sea is thwarted, it’s good to remember our pirate forebears of old, and how they dealt in such times. When Blackbeard had to let the Queen Anne’s Revenge sail without him while he stayed behind for jury duty, did he mope around the docks, morosely stabbing strangers with a sad little “yar”? Probably. But it didn’t help his sour mood—that could only be remedied with a pirate spa night.
Set the Stage
While we’re on the subject of Blackbeard, can we take a moment to appreciate his badass marketing skills? From the beard to the lit fuses to his willingness to fire blindly beneath the table at his own crewmen’s kneecaps, this was one hype-man who understood the power of a strong personal brand. When merchants spotted his trademark jolly roger on the horizon, they had no doubt it was an appropriate time to piss themselves. That’s because Blackbeard knew how to set the tone of battle—and we can safely assume he was no less committed when preparing for spa night*. Except instead of setting the stage for carnage and mayhem, he more likely aimed to build a calm within the storm; a place that all the stress of pirate captaining could melt from his weary shoulders, even as the madness of his existence whirled around outside.
Although your own form of pirate captaining most likely involves a minivan, and the only whirlwinds you’ve experienced lately stemmed from flushing an overpowered airport toilet, we can still take a page from Teach’s book and create an environment conducive to roguish relaxation. Begin in the most chill room in the house: the bathroom. Draw a warm bath** and dim the lights. You’ll want to create a scene you can experience in darkness, which means sound and smell will rule the moment. Consider a scented candle. Something that conjures the aftermath of a successful raid—after the blood has all been mopped up, but before the Spanish hulk has stopped smoldering on the horizon. As to sound, you’ll want to emulate the gentle moments of the dog watch. Ocean waves, creaking oak, maybe a few “all is wells” from the watch captain. Amazon offers a streaming track called Pirate Ship Meditation***, which is two hours of the exact soundscape you’ll be wanting, assuming you don’t already have a ship, ocean and watch captain handy.
At this point of a spa night, most writers would suggest you sprinkle the tub with lavender petals or chamomile tea or whatever lubbers are into these days. But a pirate spa night requires something more robust. Like a Gunpowder Bath Bomb. Scented of pineapple, leather, tobacco, and heliotrope (which sounds awesome****), this bath bomb is designed to soothe your achy muscles and moisturize dry skin. Also available as a Gunpowder Fizzy Foot Soak, if you’re pressed for time.
Moisturizing the entire body is important, but unless you’re one of those dastardly mer-folk, you’ll be keeping your head above water for most of this experience. Lest you deprive your sunburnt face of spa night’s full benefits, dig up some sort of rum-scented facial scrub, preferably rich in antioxidants—because no respectable pirate ever died of old age, nor should they look like they’re about to.
Plan fer Retirement
(By “retirement,” I meant in the context of “retire for the night,” not “retire so you can spend more time with the grandkids.” Few pirates lived long enough to retire properly, and most crew’s pensions were lackluster.)
Now that the bath has cooled, the candles burnt down, and your two hours of pirate meditation soundtrack has fallen deadly quiet, it’s time to prep yourself to turn in for the night. But not before first treating your swarthiest of pirate assets. The internet is chock full of pirate-themed beard oils, so just do some googling and find something promising. Choose by scent, or by pirate—most any of them should do a fine job of nourishing your beard so you can face tomorrow with pride, courage, and a fresh, piratey scent.
All that remains now is to find a way to bask in the calm aftermath of pirate spa night until sleep takes over and you can dream of Frenchmen begging for mercy. I recommend curling up someplace with a good pirate book. Any will do, depending on your mood and temperament, but I find bedtime is a great time for the classics. Treasure Island or Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates both strike a wonderful balance of nostalgia and gentle adventure—just enough to warm the heart without quite boiling the blood.
Don’t struggle to finish the chapter. Don’t even fight to reach the end of a page. Read, relax, and—when ready—let sleep take over. That’s the magic of pirate spa night; to let the night engulf you like the loving embrace of a heartsick kraken. To sink beneath the waves of slumber ever deeper, but without the crushing suffocation. Enjoy this moment, you’ve earned it.
*Blackbeard isn’t the only pirate we can turn to for spa night inspiration, but he does provide the best balance. Jack Rackham’s own routine mostly involved mud baths and cucumbers. Effective, but not very piratey. François l’Olonnais, on the other hand, favored stewed entrails. Best we stick with Blackbeard for now.
**If you only have a standing shower, consider investing in a kiddy pool. Preferably one with shark, anchor or ship patterns. In a pinch, Spongebob is acceptable.
***I’ll be honest, I stumbled across this audio track last week and thought “why in the world would anyone need this?” From there I thought it might be an interesting bath tub soundtrack, and then I just got carried away. This post is the result.
****Not awesome. Just a flower. I looked it up.
Awesome post, Bilge! Haven’t heard or seen anything from you in a looong time. Good to hear from you. I’m going to have to check out that track, Pirate Ship Meditation. As for the books, well, read both of them several times. Currently reading, The Pirate Captain Nor Gold by Kerry Lynn. If you haven’t read it, check it out. It is the 2nd book in the series.
I have a little joke for you. They say it takes years for pirates to learn the alphabet because they spend years at C! Yarr harr harr
May your home be full of those you love, and your tankard overflowing with rum and good cheer!
Quite pleased to see you’re post. Have missed the radio show. Good to see you still floating around out there!
Your post…dang auto correct…