Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Black Rose Kate: On Halloween and Modern Life

(Originally posted elsewhere on Halloween night)

Kate and Karen's collaborative decor.
Before I turn this forum over to my guest (I have already temporarily changed the About Me section of the sidebar at her insistence), I should explain that I am typing this at the kitchen counter. The roofers came today, and there's a good chance that in their tearing down of all things roofy (the tv antenna is on the ground in the back yard now), they may have somehow messed up the phone jack in my office. In any case, I was unable to get a dial tone there, no matter how many times I checked the modem cord. Between that, my guest, and my 106 trick or treaters, all given toys and candy by me or Kate, I've been a little busy. This chair is not very comfortable, either. Hmm. I think I'll go grab my office chair before taking down what Black Rose Katie Specks wishes to say to you tonight.


an unusual Jolly Roger.Marry, but 'tis certain that my hostess has more capacity than cause for complaint! As I understand it, this flat box, marked with letters and numbers, on which she is pounding away at this moment, is a means of communicating from one end of this old world to the other, very nearly at the speed of thought. Yes, I do know that though we often speak of "the ends of the earth," in truth there is no end to it, unless it is to go into the sky itself, and seek out the moon and stars. The rest is all connected - sea and shore, lake and river, mountains and sand. But in the life I know, charting blue-green courses from one bit of land to another may take weeks or months, sometimes even years. Posting a message across all that distance and more, to the interior of a country, and putting it in the hands of the intended recipient - this, too, is a lengthy and uncertain process, and often dangerous as well. I therefore have little sympathy for a woman who sits in a well-lit room, far from danger or any real discomfort, and sends my words spinning gaily through the world, mere moments after I utter them. I am convinced that Karen has never suffered any real hardship - troubles, yes, as do we all; but no true privation.

Kate at Karen's front door.
Who am I? My name - at least, the name by which I am known, from Brazil to the Bering Sea - is Black Rose Katie Specks. The name exists in several variant forms as well. Those who focus primarily on my fondness for roses drained of color call me Black Rose Kate. Those who find it odd that a pirate would be female and bespectacled prefer the name Katie Specks. Some choose to add a title to my name: "the Pirate Scribe," due to my uncommon literacy. Whichever name they call me, however, 'tis all one to me. My birth name was quite different. So long as I hear neither that hated moniker nor any insult, ye can call me as ye wish. (And I shall put you on notice right now that I seldom display more than a hint of the coarse dialect of the common pirate. No amount of sea spray will e'er wash away my education or my intelligence.)

Despite the best schooling ever afforded a woman of my generation, I must confess I have little idea what magic or science brought me to Karen's house, far from the sea and farther still from my own time. 'Tis my hope that whatever unnatural tide bore me to the Arizona desert in the Year of Our Lord 2005, 'twill soon wash me back where I belong. In the meantime, however, I have enjoyed marveling at the modern wonders of computers and automobiles, digital cameras and more, at the strange landscape and stranger customs.
Kate is in charge.
Your All Hallow's Eve, for example, is much changed since my day. You have eroded the words into Halloween, and the fear and awe that suffused the date in times past exists now only in caricature, in fun and games (save for the practices of a few older cultures - or so Karen tells me). You play at fear, but seldom feel it. You dress as a ghost or a pirate, a witch or a vampyre, but you know not what is is to be any of these in reality. Chidren pretend to be angels and princesses, heroes and villains and monsters, primarily for the chance to eat sweets proffered by strangers. And people like Karen, decades past the age for this "trick or treat" custom, nevertheless plan their costumes with as much enthusiasm as the most wide-eyed child. At her place of business today, I saw several green-faced witches and a woman in pyjamas, a living scarecrow, an ersatz vampyre and a pretend pirate, and even a woman dressed as a male ghost in a striped suit, apparently named Beetlejuice. 'Tis odd behavior, to my mind, but these people seem to enjoy it. Perhaps in your modern world, with its dearth of real adventure and onus against mayhem, you must create such things vicariously.

Karen claims that she is tired of typing this, and begs me to allow her to stop for this night. And in truth, I am a bit weary myself, after an evening of mutual exploration of our respective lives and times, all in between the giving of toys and candy and pretend coins to the children of strangers. If I remain in your century another day or more, I shall continue my dictations tomorrow evening. In the meantime, I remain

That Disobedient Wench,

Black Rose Katie Specks

P.S. If you have any questions for Black Rose Kate, either about her life as a lady-turned-pirate or about her reactions to the modern world, please post them in comments. Thanks! - Karen

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