Stereotypes and Old Pirates

Everybody stereotypes and there are stereotypes about everybody. We all know that fat people are jolly, egg heads don’t have a social life, ugly women make better wives than pretty women, black people love water melon, all Jewish people are doctors or lawyers and wealthy, white men can’t jump, and blonds can’t spell jump.

Of course, not everything about stereotypes has to be false. Remember the old saying, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out to get you?” Well, for every thing we believe to be true about a given type or group of people, there probably is some fundamental reason it is considered universally true. For example, Saint Nicholas is fat and he is jolly, ergo, fat people are jolly. One of the best wives I ever met was pretty damned ugly and the Nicolas Brothers could tap dance up a storm. But for every example there are countless others that disprove the common conceptions. The lesson is, we should never stereotype. The reality, however, is we do. So, let’s have a little fun with stereotypes.

I was recently sitting in a McDonald’s in Marathon, FL and a guy walked in who was the living, breathing, example of a ton of common stereotypes. First he was gray-haired and salt and pepper bearded, which denotes he was either prematurely gray or well into his 60s. I don’t suppose being gray-haired and 60 is a stereotype since it really is a common condition. But, put the length of his hair with the pony tail hanging down together with other aspects of his appearance and this dude becomes the poster child for all those in denial of their impending elderlyness. I’ve also heard it said that men grow beards to compensate for a lack of testosterone or masculine security.

He had his head wrapped in a black bandanna with a Harley-Davis logo on the front so I’m thinking this guy is a biker and just rolled on to Mickey D’s lot riding a full dresser hog. Both his arms were covered in faded tattoos which told me he had obviously been a seafaring man at some point in his life. All sailors love tattoos, you know. Given that his tattoos were faded tells me he didn’t just jump on the turnip cart…this old dude was a trend setter long before Axl Rose got all inked up.

In one of his ears he had two large gold rings. I don’t know what all this signifies but first, depending on which ear denotes what, he may have been gay which is also supported by his not wearing a wedding band. If not gay then, I’m pretty certain the conventional wisdom says old men with pierced ears are having a late-life crisis. Either is reinforced by the fact that he was wearing even more gold bling around his neck and on his wrists. Real men would never wear much bling other than a small and tasteful St. Christopher medal given them by their grandmother following their First Communion. They certainly wouldn’t be sporting a couple of cowry shell bracelets.

His t-shirt was plain white. With white denoting cleanliness and sterility I deduce this man may have been slightly germaphobic. He was wearing a pair of knee-length black denim jean shorts and high top pure white knee-length stockings along with a pair of black Dr. Scholl’s orthopedic walking shoes with Velcro closure tabs. This could have indicated a sensitivity to sun light, further evidence of germaphobia, he suffered from arthritis, or simply, he was just a nerd. If he’d been wearing a pair of black rimmed glasses held together with white adhesive tape I’d have known for sure. The nerd thesis is further supported by his wearing a couple of utility packs on his belt. One held a cell phone and he probably used the other as a form of pocket pack for his mechanical pencils, Waterman brand fountain pen, and mini slide rule.

What this guy really was, was a fine example of the type of person seen all over the Florida Keys. Aging men who are trying to live a carefree lifestyle, maintain a grasp on their youth, and wishing there was a way to keep the sun from leathering their faces even more. They are grizzled men with sun washed hair and beards and whatever their true story is, if you wrapped their heads in a scarf, topped them off with a tri-corner hat, strapped a saber to their sides, and gave them a gleaming gold filling on a front tooth, they’d all be perfect pictures of pirates.

I have a couple photos of this guy but for legal reasons I’m not including them. I did take a close look at one of them and discovered I was wrong about his shoes. He was wearing a pair of new and very white athletic shoes to match his pure white stockings. It was me who was wearing the black Dr. Scholl’s orthopedic Velcro fastened shoes (with white ankle socks).

Matter of fact, taking a brief look in a mirror, I resemble a lot of those Key West pirates. Basically I’m knocking on 70’s door, my hair is long with little to show for natural color other than gray, I’m bearded, gnarly looking, my nose hasn’t stopped growing larger, my skin is blotched, and young children run to their mothers when I approach. I don’t have a gold tooth, a pierced ear, or any tattoos. But, I do wear just a little bling and with a dagger in my teeth, a head scarf, and one of those bloomy armed blouses I could easily pass for the first mate on the Queen Anne’s Revenge serving alongside Blackbeard.

I share another thing with those old dudes running around the Florida Keys, I haven’t given up on experiencing life, even if it means getting older. You see, the idea that old men should just kick back and die, well that’s just another stereotype.


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