MARKINGS OF A MISCHIEVOUS PAST
Here we are in the dog days of summer and the hot weather has driven us to the pool! Now I'm not one for public swimming, but it was so hot!!! Why don't I like public swimming you ask? Its not the extra winter weight I'm still carrying or the mysterious warm spots that seem to have a yellow haze. No its the constant questions about my tattoos. People are always asking, "What's the story behind that one?", or, "Why did you get that?"
Some of them are just long stories of youthful indiscretion. Stories that I don't want to take the time to share when I'm in the middle of a belly flop contest with a ravenous pack of Jr. High boys. Those are just mementos of a life long lost to me, and most are not as embarrassing as the way I chose to show my undying allegiance to a certain television phenomenon. I try to stay calm while discussing it, but usually end up screaming something along the lines of, "He was robbed of the win!', or "More then just grandmothers love his music!" At which point I brake down and agree to tell the tail behind one of my more colorful pieces of body art.Truth be told I don't really like talking about my past, but "true story" this one gets my blood pumping! And that my friend is why I live, for adrenaline.
Where was I? Oh, yes. It all began while I was traveling Europe trying to find out the origins of my mother's maiden name, Grotzke. I was just tired of not knowing whether or not to be offended by Polish jokes! Everyone should travel Europe at a young age it really helps clarify things. Things like history, politics, hygiene and why we have freedom fries among others. It was a blast! All the freedom and non of the trappings of responsibility.
Well it all changed when Lech Walesa was elected the first President of Poland on December 10,1990, I had to stop by for the party because I have an odd connection to Lech. Now some of you may be confused because Lech Walesa looks so much like my dad, and I still filch every time I mention him. After all how much teasing can an elementary school kid take? "Your dad's Lech Walesa! Ha Ha!", they used to yell. I am so glad that the American school system has deteriorated so much that kid's don't know who he is any more. I would hate to think of my daughter having to endure the taunts of "Your grandpa's Lech Walesa! Ha Ha!"
Anyway just to put the issue to rest once and for all. The black and white picture is Lech Walsa first President of Poland and the color picture is my dad, Phil "Not Phillip" Neuenschwander.
No resemblance at all! Ok back to our story.
In August 1991, Moldova, which is the Romanian name of the region, was declared an independent republic. One minute I was traveling within the glorious USSR under the safety of mother Russia and the next I was trapped under the oppressive rule of the Commonwealth of Independence States. The CIS was, as we all know, just a lie propagated by Russia to appease the West. Ok enough of the history lesson. The point is that Moldova began a guerilla war for independence and I was caught in the middle.
The shock was that I, like every other left handed boy with a mischievous streak, was drafted into the Moldovian Pirating Core. Don't get the wrong idea I'm all down with independence, but when I was grabbed away from my morning coffee it put me into a surly mood! So I swashed and I buckled with an intensity never before seen in all of the Baltic region. At this point some of you may be wondering why you have never heard of the dreaded Moldovian pirates. I'd have to say its the same reason you have never been tempted to vacation in Moldova. Bad PR! Its hard to compete with Russia, who gets the Beatles and Scorpion to write rocking party songs about them. We couldn't even get Phish to play our bon voyage party, and we offered them all the weed in the Shire. But I digress.
The odd thing was that surly moods really get you far in pirating. It also helped that I understood how to read a map and was blessed with a seventh grade teacher who taught me the properties of gun powder. Truth be told most of the native Moldovians had never been aloud to leave the country before so I was really the only "world traveler" on the ship. When this was discovered I was quickly made the navigator. Being the navigator meant that I got to go to many of the places I had always wanted to go. Here's a picture of the crew on the island of Tobago.
Yes, there where quit a few women on the crew. Most pirates would have believed women on a ship to be bad luck. Moldova is however a very forward thinking and progressive nation. A nation that did not discriminate based on sex, race or religion. They do however hold to an ancient myth which prophesied that a great left handed boy would lead them into a golden age. This worked in my favor of course along with that whole understanding gun powder thing. That "understanding" was something that good old Capitan Jack didn't possess. No matter how many times I told him not to smoke near the powder keg he just wouldn't listen. Needless to say he was careless and after a rather large explosion all we found was his hat. A hat that I wore with pride the day I became captain. I did clean the hat a bit first.
With my new promotion I needed a new navigator and my brother Scott had recently joined the crew so he got the job. Some of the crew did complain about what they called an obvious case of nepotism, but I warned them not to question the wisdom of the leader of the golden age. After that anyone who complained was dealt with by Pepi'.
Now Scott really did look good in the gear of the buccaneer, but other then that I never really understood why he volunteered to join the crew. Although some of the crew claimed to have over heard him mumble something like, "can't let my brother get all the booty!", in his sleep. So I pretty much think he was in it for the money. That and he only wears a shirt when he has to. Just like a pirate!
Now if you ever meet Scott don't hesitate to ask him who he got his pirating tattoo. It really is a great story and happens to be the same story as mine, but I don't have time to cover all the details here. Truthfully I may be a little jealous do to the fact that I wanted that tattoo. We actually had to play a game of dice to settle who got which piece of body art. You may wonder why we both couldn't have it. The answer is easy, rule 13. Rule 13 was set down after the big Aiken incident of Papua New Guinea. After a very successful raid the crew wanted to show their loyalty and appreciation by getting the same tattoo. Unfortunately Scott convince them that my Akin tattoo was of the great pirate Joshua "Baby Face" Barron. Needless to say if you ever run across a pirate with this "Barron" tattoo, DO NOT MOCK! Mocking caused the death of a grandmother in Spain and I just could not live with another incident like that. Any way rule 13 plainly states that no two pirates can bare the same tattoo. Unfortunately this also has lead to many deaths do to an oversight on my part. I did fail to state that a pirate and a dead man could not have the same mark.
Now don't go crazy with wonder. I do intend to reveal the story of this mysterious Pepi'. Pepi', who was also known as the bringer of pain, was non other then my trusty Peruvian Llama. Pepi' was a direct descendent of the great royal Llamas who protected the Inca kings. Sadly he was forced to flee his native land when the Peruvian Inca Orchids, also known as the Inca Hairless dogs, came to power during the disco revolution of 1981. Disco came late to Peru. When I found Pepi' he was scraping a living working at a petting zoo in north Jersey. So we liberated him from a venomous horde of kindergarteners and set sail. It took him about a month to get his sea legs and after that he was unstoppable. I believe it possible that Pepi' could have been captain one day if it had not been for an undying prejudice against those lacking a posable thumb.
Pepi', Scott and I had a good thing going. Sadly a man has got to follow his dreams and Scott had always dreamt of being a professional TV talk show host. Who was I to stand in his way. It was a sad day when the letter from Telemundo arrived and off Scott went.
After Scott's departure things where never the same. Pepi' did his best, but he is no navigator and we ran aground several times. He did redeem himself while saving my life from a shark when I fell in the tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Sadly in his zeal to save his beloved Capitan he forgot that he did not swim. Lucky for me his floating carcass distracted the shark as I swam for shore.
The loss of Pepi' signaled the end of my pirating days. The crew was disbanded and the ship was donated to the Molovian national museum. I took to land and headed south to visit an old friend in Israel. Unbeknownst to me my trail had been picked up by the famous bounty hunter, James "Law Dog" Law. After a close call in Bethlehem he finley cornered me in India. I was all alone just me and my swash buckling sultan sword, but that is another story.