SCUZZY SON-OF-A-BITCH #3:
Captain Jack Sparrow
The Pirate Who Taught Me Not To Not Give A Fuck
I have been putting way too much thought into this.
For the last two weeks I have been laboring over this little riff about Captain Jack Sparrow. I’ve written, deleted, and re-written countless Perfect Introductions. I’ve spent an obscene amount of hours tinkering with witticisms. All I did last week at work was mess with this thing. Was I happy with anything I wrote? No, not really.
Sometimes, writing is very easy for me. I’ll come up with 1,000 words in an hour, read them once, pat myself on the back, and call it a night. Other times, I’ll write for two hours and then feel stuck. I’ll know where I want to go, but have no idea how to get there. I’ll then go back, read what I have, and think, “This is just not what I want.” That moment is just plain crushing. Why the Hell have I spent so much time on this piece of shit? How the Hell have I spent so much time on this piece of shit? Why even bother finishing this piece of shit?
When that happens, there’s only one thing I can do, and that is wait for The Muse to arrive. Sometimes, she appears to me in the form of a song. Other times, in the form of a memory. Once that bitch shows up, shit gets real. I don’t delete everything I have already done — I gut it like a dead fish. I tear its insides out of its asshole. I make that piece of shit my prison wife. I make it work.
I have yet to get to that point. All I’ve been doing for days is editing bits here and there — taking out a few things, rearranging a few things — and none of it has added up to much. Where The Hell is The Muse? Is she going to show up this time?
Here’s the thing: Captain Jack Sparrow is one of my favorite people of all time. Yes. I’m 24 years old, and I still idolize the stupid pirate Johnny Depp has been playing for eight years. I know that most of the sequels sucked, but I still went to see ‘em in the damn theater out of respect and love and loyalty. I’m not a Trekkie, I have never been to Comic-Con, and I didn’t see Captain America because I didn’t want to. When it comes to Pirates of the Caribbean, I go full Dungeon Master.
That was a little scary for me to admit. The fact that that was scary was scary for me to admit. Somebody save me from myself!
I don’t suppose too many 24 year olds feel the same way about the freaking Pirates movies, but why not? It’s true, Captain Jack Sparrow is not as iconic as Han Solo, Indiana Jones, or any other smooth-talkin’ hero played by Harrison Ford, but ya know what? He will be. I firmly believe that years from now, when Johnny Depp looks like Jack Nicholson, women all over America will show the Pirates movies to their kids, and a new generation of Captain Jack Sparrow worshippers will dress up as slightly gay pirates for Halloween. Like it or not, good ol’ Captain Jack is here to stay. Who am I to write about his greatness?
For the 500th time, here goes nothin’.
What the Hell was popular in 2003? I honestly can’t remember off the top of my head; I’d have to ask the internet. Seriously. I have no idea what songs came out that year, what the hit television shows were, or whether Brad was screwing Jenn or Angie. Did Britney still have a whole head of hair? Was Paris an amateur porn star yet? Had NSYNC officially disbanded? I don’t know. I mean, I remember the U.S. invaded Iraq that year, but I don’t remember why. Do you?
In 2003 I was in 10th grade. I was 16. I dug Bob Dylan and Harold And Maude. “Idiot Wind” was my I’m-A-Teenager-And-Perpetually-Heartbroken anthem, and “Life On Mars?” was my bad day ballad. I had Velvet Goldmine memorized. My favorite TV shows were on BBC America.
You see, I don’t remember what was popular that year because I didn’t care. Was I going to hear “Heroin” on KROQ? Nopers. Was I going to see Iggy Pop on MTV? No freaking way. Was I going to see Ardal O’Hanlon or Reece Shearsmith in People? Not likely. (Who the Hell are they?) I didn’t care about anything that was happening in real time; I was only concerned with glam rock, hippy culture, and men from The UK.
Then I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl for the first time, and Johnny Depp made it to the top of my list of “concerns.” The “first time”? Yes. Over the course of the summer, I saw it six times in the damn movie theater. I didn’t go alone — my friends were more than happy to join me.
Me? Little Miss I-Hate-Everything-That-Isn’t-Subtextually-About-Heroin-Addiction?
Yes, Pirates was a bigass, dumbass summer blockbuster, but let’s be frank here — there have been way bigger, way dumber summer blockbusters. What made Pirates less dumb? Captain Jack Sparrow. He was an excellent character, and Johnny Depp played him brilliantly. He was hilarious, sexy, and didn’t give a fuck. At 16, I wished I didn’t give a fuck either. I may not have cared about being trendy, but, despite my best efforts, I still cared about my grades, my appearance, my relationship status (thank GOODNESS facebook didn’t exist back then), and all the other bullshit that haunts teenage females.
When Captain Jack Sparrow first appeared on the screen, head held high as his shitty boat gradually sank to the bottom of the harbor, I felt what can only be described as Enlightened. “Someday soon,” I thought, “I will not give a fuck.”
No, I didn’t start smudging my eyeliner and wearing a funny hat. Je refuse. I did, however, feel a little less crappy about having to wake up at 6am for my summer geometry class. Nothing I can’t handle. I also didn’t worry too much when I heard the ten-minute-warning bell during nutrition break. So what if I’m thirty seconds late for the second half of class? What’s my teacher really going to do about it? When it was time to start studying for my final, I didn’t feel the overpowering anxiety that had plagued me since Ms. Bell’s 7th grade math class. I’m not gonna fail this one. Maybe I’ll get a B. So what? I don’t give a fuck.
Three years later, Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man’s Chest was released. I was one of the freaks who bought tickets days in advance. Some people hated the movie, but I loved it. I saw it four times in total. This time around, though, my friends weren’t psyched to go over and over again — I was the only person in the group who still considered Captain Jack Sparrow my fantasy boyfriend. I had to get resourceful, IE: beg my parents to come with me. Dorky? I didn’t give a fuck.
One night, about a month later, I got into a pretty heated argument with the guy I was dating at the time. We were having our nightly, “I miss you. Summer’s been so lonely without you. I can’t wait to see you in Santa Cruz. Blah Blah Blah Bullshit” conversation when, quite suddenly, things turned evil. He said some rather messed up things to me; things that stuck with me for a while. At around 3am I called it quits and went to bed. I just couldn’t defend myself anymore; it was exhausting. This pattern continued for several nights, and every one of them was more miserable than the one before. Why am I putting up with this? I wondered.
One of those nights, I had a dream that I was a pirate. I had been kidnapped by Davey Jones’s crew, and we were in a small tavern by the ocean watching Davey Jones make some kind of “rah rah rah” speech up on a stage. Next to me was the chest with Davey Jones’s heart, and I knew that I had to get the chest back to my crew so we could stab the heart and reclaim the sea. (In case you missed it, that is pretty much the plot of Pirates II.) Mustering all my courage, I grabbed the chest, threw it in my pirate satchel, and ran out of the tavern. I knew that I’d be killed if the pirates caught me, but I had to take the risk. I ran for a while, and then, gradually, the satchel became heavier and heavier. I mean really heavy. I tried to keep running, but that damn satchel was making it impossible for me to continue.
I woke up before the evil pirates made me into shark bait. I rolled out of bed, picked up the phone, and made the call. As I listened to the ringing, ringing, ringing, I thought about Captain Jack Sparrow at the end of the sequel, when the Kraken comes to eat him alive. He knows he’s going to die, but rather than wait for that moment to arrive, he pulls out his sword and jumps right into the fucker’s mouth.
To this day, when I’m faced with a fucked up situation that is definitely going to hurt, I think of this scene. Call it nerdy, but conjuring this image provides me with tremendous badassary. It has never failed me.
I suppose I had a difficult time putting all of this into words because in order to explain why Captain Jack Sparrow belongs on this list, I had to reveal some pretty weird stuff about myself. Captain Jack Sparrow helped you pass geometry? Captain Jack Sparrow helped you end a toxic relationship? Yes. Yes, he did. Does this mean you don’t love me anymore?
It is a Saturday evening in August, 2011. As I write this, I am listening to Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love.” I first heard this song when I was in ninth grade. I had already fallen in love with “Perfect Day” thanks to Mark Renton, so I typed “Lou Reed” into KaZaa. I have now been a Lou Reed fan for ten years, and “Satellite of Love” has never sounded bad to me. I have never gotten tired of it, and I will never get over it. You see what I’m getting at? If it’s acceptable for Lou Reed, or any other musician, to be an important person in my life, then I don’t see what’s wrong with loving Captain Jack Sparrow the way that I do.
And anyway, I don’t give a fuck.