I arose early the next morning to the blast of a fog horn. Peeling back the curtain next to my bed, I rubbed my eyes until a small, rickety looking sailboat came into focus. It was bearing down on our island. Through my sleep filled eyes, I could just make out Benedict in a life jacket yelling something. I can only assume it was, “I’m sailing, I’m sailing, look at me, I'm sailing. I sail now.” Even though we were commonly on a sail boat together, Ben insisted on reenacting What About Bob?almost every time. Jack was behind the wheel at the back, no doubt attempting to keep his head down while Ben attracted the ire of every fisherman in the bay.
They would be here soon. I wasn't ready for that, so I rolled over, put a pillow over my head, and fell back asleep.
It was nearly 2:00 in the afternoon before I woke up again. The house was strangely quiet. I peeked out of my room to assess the environment, half expecting a sneak attack from Ben. I saw no one, so I began quietly making my way to the kitchen. I didn’t see a soul on my way there. While I was still hoping to avoid conversation, it was a little disheartening to feel left out of the first activity, until I found a note stuck to the fridge that read, “Gone shopping – be back at 3 – be ready to leave at 5.”
This was great news. I wasn't ready to pretend to be cheerful and I felt freed by the extra hour of solitude. I smiled a little, made myself a sandwich, headed back to my room, got back in bed, and pulled up Netflix on my phone. Lunch and an episode of Parks and Rechad at least perked me up enough to start packing. I had packed my high school sailing team bucket bag for this trip, in part because I didn't want to take a roller bag on a boat, but if I am honest, mostly because in my mind canvas drawstring bags and sailing go together. I like when things go together and am willing to sacrifice convenience in order to tell the right story. In this case, the convenience sacrificed by packing in this bag would be having any wrinkle-free clothes. But I had no one to impress over the next few days, so what would it matter? Maybe I could pretend I was a broken-hearted sailor turned alcoholic who was running away to live on a beach in the Caribbean. That'd be kind of a fun story. With this vision in mind, I tossed in all the linen shirts I brought (which may have been more than the days we would be gone), three pairs of pants (two khaki and one olive drab), the corresponding amount of underwear, and my grandfather's compass for good measure into my bag. I was working on squeezing my laptop and camera in as well, when I heard a boat pulling up to the dock.
Benedict was going to bother me the whole weekend if he sensed I wasn't in a good mood, so I decided to be proactive and run down to meet them. Ben, who possessed some puppy-like characteristics, dropped his groceries on the dock and gave me a huge hug. It had been several months since we had seen each other, but mostly he just liked hugs. Jack was much less enthusiastic by nature, so we settled for a nice-to-see you handshake and the standard salutation of, “Hey, nice to see you.” Normally, I am much more of handshake man, but I have to say Ben's hug did actually make me feel a bit better.
Formalities aside, I grabbed the groceries and helped move them from the tender to the sailboat. Jack and Ben already had their bags in the boat. So Kip and I ran back to grab our stuff while the others got the boat ready.
I returned to the dock ten minutes later to see Jack on the phone, swatting Ben away as he aggressively attempted to put a feathered hat on him. I had totally forgotten about our trip rules. I was in the process of turning back to the house to see if I could find a hat, when Kipling walked out the door in a swim suit, tank top, and massive three cornered hat with a plume so big he had to duck to get through the door. He shoved an only slightly more tame hat in my hands as he walked by, Corona in hand.
Looking back toward the boat, I saw the a perfect picture of each of our personalities. Ben was a guy who desperately wanted us all to have fun all the time and always be together. He didn't even question whether or not something was cool, he just wanted to be with his friends. Jack was pretty buttoned up, but willing to play the part if it meant he got to take a quasi-executive role. Kipling always acted like he didn't care, but in truth he probably noticed the most and always planned ahead. There is no chance he hadn't planned that ridiculous bro-pirate outfit for months. He also planned that I would forget mine. Par for the course. I love to be part of our little fraternity.
I put my hat on with a smile and hurried toward the boat - I had to do the reading of our charter and perform the selection of the captain. Since we wrote this when we were 13, it's mostly nonsense, but it's nonsense we take very seriously. And, if I didn't get there quickly I would be tasked with cleaning the head.
Stepping on board I dropped my bag and Ben handed me our scroll. I unfurled it and began to read:
“We the sworn members of the Pee-quad , in order to form a more perfect brotherhood do hereby charter ourselves as privateers of the high seas. As such, we are bound to perform annual duties to further our bonds and control the Atlantic... Further we reject the tyranny of England, The Hawksmoor Academy, and Mrs. Brown. Being of able body, we do hereby agree that we will always do our duties even should they inhibit our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness...
I should probably note three things: 1) the ellipses are always meant to be read “dot dot dot” and do not actually indicate missing text; 2) we wrote it after a particularly compelling class on the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, and Constitution, so we felt pressure to include the pieces we thought made two of those documents so great, and 3) our teacher, Mrs. Brown, actually turned out to be a very nice woman.
Continuing, I read the bi-laws of the “Pee-quad's Journey.”
It is our belief that we are most able to perform these duties under the rule of law which is as follows:
A captain should be chosen from among you in a fair manner
A) Pooh sticks played with sticks of roughly equal size and weight is acceptable as fair
Whilst at sea appropriate attire must worn at all times
A) A pirate's hat is acceptable as appropriate
B) The captain must always ensure compliance with hat wearing or be so deposed
If anyone is caught for any reason without their attire they shall be punished under article 3, sections a or b
A) Walk the plank
B) Not be allowed to speak for an amount of time equal to 5 times the amount of time without his hat
BI) A minimum time is 15 minutes
BII) A maximum amount of time is life
The captain is allowed to come up with any law they like at anytime
The crew is allowed to perform mutiny if two criteria can be met
A) All can agree
B) The captain's hat can be captured
After the requisite reading of the charter and the rules, we went about playing pooh sticks under the dock - a task that is much easier in a river. After a little waiting for some waves to come along, Jack came out as the winner, so we crowned him with the captain's plume and were ready to take to the sea.
It was a perfect time to set sail. We left the dock just before 4:00 pm. The barometer was reading 29.9 inHg and it was about 89 degrees with blue skies as we started off into the Long Island Sound. This day was shaping up to be ok. Then, just as we left the bay, Jack brought out the champagne for the toast and announced that he had something very exciting to tell us.