Food for Thought-“Baby, Did You Know There Was A Redbeard on Ocracoke Too?”


We were riding home on the ferry last Saturday afternoon. The long hot trip was made much longer by the number of people on the boat. We were lucky to find seats. Now, I don’t want you thinking I’m an inveterate eavesdropper.   Actually, I am. My ability to listen to the conversations of others is made much easier because most people have forgotten how to use an “inside voice”. People talk way too loud in enclosed spaces, especially tourists. Even within the soundproofing of the ferry’s air-conditioned passenger lounge, people are practically yelling at each other. I might also add that I have the hearing of a genetically modified jackal.  Eavesdropping, while repulsive in some cultures, is part of my job. I like to see myself keeping an ear to the human condition.

The young couple sitting behind us was coming to our fair island. They had a book, map, and head full of information about pirates. I know this because I heard them talking. The gentleman, a young man in his mid 20’s seemed to be extremely well informed. So much so, I believe he was trying to impress his lady friend with the amount and quality of his knowledge. My guess is this: his plan was to impress his female companion with the breadth of his pirate talk in the hopes of gaining her affections later on in the evening. This is only a guess.

He was pouring it on thick. “Baby, you know there were other ‘beards’ on Ocracoke don’t you?” This question perked my attention.

“Oh yeah, there weren’t just Blackbeard. There was Redbeard and Bluebeard.” For the record, Redbeard was an Ottoman pirate who never came near Ocracoke.

I saw the movie Yellowbeard. Why did he leave out Yellowbeard? Surely, he’s joking. Nope, this is real world craziness on display. As they were looking through their guidebook he made the same point at least four more times. He didn’t want to let go of the idea of Redbeard or Bluebeard being on Ocracoke. With enough hair dye, I could have morphed into one of those two while there on the boat.

I don’t know if he actually believed in Redbeard or Bluebeard’s presence on Ocracoke.   I could tell she wasn’t buying his argument.   She did have a book, presumably with an index. It’s amazing how far people will go, even manipulating the history of Ocracoke’s pirates, to look intelligent and have coitus.