My earliest memories include adults asking me if I was ‘Terry’ of “Terry and the pirates”. That cartoon strip apparently had a huge surge in popularity back then, but I was disappointed anyone would think it was the inspiration for my name. To me, pirates were not interesting. An eye patch, a hook instead of a hand, big deal, Dick Tracy had a wristwatch video and audio communication device. I even liked Beetle Bailey better with his cartoon jeeps, army fatigues, and goofy observations.
Over the years, the ‘pirate’ moniker has popped up less and less, but occasionally, someone will greet me with something like, “Hi you old pirate, how ya’ doing?”
Flashing forward, Emmy and I went to visit our kids and grandkids near Boston Massachusetts a few weeks ago.
My grandson Tate is three and it has been decades since I spent any time with a three-year-old. It brought back to mind my own boys at that age. It all came back to me; the most charming thing about a three-year-old is that they act like a three-year old. The most annoying thing about a three-year-old is - THEY ACT LIKE A THREE-YEAR-OLD.
Our visit allowed me to spend hours with Tate, several days in a row. At the start of our visit, his jabber seemed that of a miniature drunken adult, just rambling, but the content soon became a bit disturbing to me.
Tate told me he has an imaginary Grandpa and Grandma. He referred to them as his ‘evil grandpa and grandma,’ “Fire rocks” and “Nancy.” Tate’s sister, our sweet six-year-old granddaughter and Tate’s number one interpreter, matter-of-factly confirmed my understanding of what he said. I found it troubling he referred to any grandparent as ‘evil’, especially Emmy or I. “Fire Rocks” was just weird.
On our previous visit, when he was only two, Tate couldn’t understand that his grandparents were different entities. He called both of us ‘grandma’, kind of disconcerting for me. When I did get him to call me ‘grandpa,’ he referred to Emmy as grandpa also.
Even though he is hard to understand, I realized he was saying that the evil grandpa and grandma were neither Emmy nor me.
When asked who his real Grandmother was, he indicated Emmy. Pointing to myself, I asked him if I was Grandpa Fire Rocks and he said ‘no’ and he asked, “What’s?”
I said “Grandpa Terry”.
Tate looked as though the name made no sense, I was in a hurry to replace ‘evil grandpa’. Still pointing to my chest, I said “Terry ...like Terry and the Pirates”.
His face lit up, he said “Terry and Pirates Grandpa?”
He then added, with a big grin, “King of Pirates.”
I thought that was the end of it. That evening we watched a movie our grandkids had not seen all the way through called “Coraline”.
It is a ‘stop motion’ animated movie. I only watch animated movies with my grandchildren, but this movie was fascinating. The plot includes Coraline, a young girl who dreams of an alternate family and neighborhood. The alternate parents are perfect at first but in the end they, and most of their alternate universe turn evil. Yup, it is a terror movie for the young’uns.
At one point, a character in the movie who is a neighbor and trapeze artist in Coralines’ evil alternate universe appeared. Tate jumped up, pointing to the screen excitedly saying “Grandpa Fire Rocks”. He was as happy to reveal the “evil grandpa” mystery, as I was to have him show it to me.
Now I’m “King of Pirates Terry”, or “Pirates Grandpa”. How could I object to that? So much for “Terry and the Pirates” being a dull comic strip.
Next visit, we will try to unravel the mystery of “evil Grandma Nancy.” Emmy might like some answers.