Carnival of the Non-Pirate

ARTHUR NEAD ILLUSTRATION

If you see a pirate this Mardi Gras, don’t call my name because it won’t be me. Most often in recent years I’ve dressed like a rogue from the seas for several reasons:

• I have by now collected a bag full of pirate-like costume parts.

• Pirate costumes are not too cumbersome, possibly because the pirates often had to make quick getaways.

• When you meet another pirate coming down the street on Mardi Gras, they often go, “Arrrggghhh!” I reply with a similar response, which is about as deep in conversation as I want to get with a passing pirate.

• Though no one confuses me for Johnny Depp, I do get to wear a Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean, wig.

• I also get to wear one of those cool tri-cornered hats.


Nevertheless, my act has gotten stale. “Not a pirate again?” acquaintance would say. I could have countered by saying, “No, I’m a privateer,” but that’s so UNO, no one would believe it.

One year, with the help of a friend who’s a great costume maker, a new costume was made. Thinking ahead to the city’s tricentennial in 2018, I intended to be Bienville. The costume was quite imaginative, complete with a vest and breeches made with gold-colored fabric, but the tri-corner hat did me in. I could have been George Washington but people still saw me as a pirate, albeit a well-dressed one.

Bienville will make an appearance again on another Mardi Gras, but this is the year I have to break the pirate image totally.

For a Twelfth Night party, I searched through a costume shop not wanting to get one of those velveteen pre-made costumes of Dracula or a medieval executioner, but hoping I could find parts from which a new costume would be fashioned. I was about to give up when I spotted a pilot’s helmet like the type that the early aces, such as the Red Baron, wore. I bought that and a pair of optional flight goggles. There was no pilot jacket per se, but there were camouflage shirts that had nothing to do with flying, but that when combined with the helmet and goggles looked like something that might have been worn during a dogfight over Prussia. All aces wore a long scarf, so I grabbed one from a selection near the helmets. So there I had it, a more or less complete costume. Then I noticed that the scarf I had picked was green. Once I wrapped it around my neck I pronounced myself to be the Green Baron.

At that Twelfth Night party most all of the other costumes were far better than mine, but the getup did earn a certain amount of positive reaction, if for no other reason than it was not a pirate. One woman, who actually is a pilot, was especially impressed with it.

So this Mardi Gras, the Green Baron will be patrolling the streets of the French Quarter. And should he meet another flying ace the response will be obvious: “Arrrggghhh!”

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