This past Saturday I was treated to one of the craziest history lessons I have ever witnessed, anywhere. It took place at Anachrocon, a 9 year old science fiction convention with a heavy focus on history. The panel was titled “Captain Rumpot and the Drunken Pirates of the Caribbean”, led by my friend Captain Rumpot (aka Roger Wade Riddle).
I had arrived late to the convention after an afternoon spent at the formal public opening of Base Camp ATL LLC, a new specialty film and television production center some friends opened just off of I-20, near Six Flags Over Georgia.
The Spanish Entrada
The first panel I attended was focused on the Spanish Entrada, led by my friend Dea. An archeologist by trade, she presented an academic account of “documents that survived the invasion and archaeological evidence from Spanish contact sites which provided a rare glimpse of the prehistoric societies encountered by the DeSoto and DeLuna expeditions.”
She had a PowerPoint presentation and diagrams and citations and everything.
At some point after her panel ended I mentioned my interest in attending Roger’s 11pm panel and Dea’s eyes flashed DANGER! – it turned out that she had witnessed Roger’s “historical performance” the previous year and she had a warning to impart.
“Listen,” she said, “they had to wheel him out of the room in a wheelchair last year.” She was trying to let me know that she wasn’t even slightly kidding, but it didn’t matter – her warning only made me want to see Roger’s panel even more.
She probably told me some other stuff too, but I’d stopped listening by then because anytime you hear about an act where they have to roll the performer out in a wheelchair afterward… well, that has got to be worth seeing! You kind of interpret any warnings as endorsements.
What a big mistake.
Soon enough I spotted Roger down the hallway, dressed in more modern attire. It wasn’t quite time for his panel yet and he was taking it easy. I hadn’t seen him in person in nearly 6 months so I walked down to greet him and to get his version of events from his panel the previous year. Was it true that he’d been so drunk they had to roll him out in a wheelchair?
Rumpot Provides an Excuse
“Oh no,” he assured me, “I wasn’t drunk last year. I had food poisoning. You see, I’d gone to Burger King a little bit before my panel and I’d ordered a fish sandwich. Well I never order fish sandwiches from that place because they always make me sick. Plus I think I was a little dehydrated.”
Now, I may have gotten the specific fast food chain incorrect, and the dialogue is approximate, but he was confident that he’d gotten sick from a fast food fish sandwich and dehydration – both excellent explanations in my book.
His reassurance dispelled any concerns Dea had instilled. So much so in fact that I sat in the second row of his panel, which as you will recall was titled “Captain Rumpot and the Drunken Pirates of the Caribbean”.
The Panel Begins
The panel consisted of Roger as Captain Rumpot, providing an oral history of many of the best known pirates operating in the Caribbean during the 18th century.
Arrayed on a table in front of him were more than a dozen different bottles of rum, and each bottle represented a pirate in the story he was going to tell us.
The gag was, every time Roger mentioned a pirate by name he would stop and take a swig from the bottle of rum he had assigned to that particular pirate.
It was like a history lesson and a drinking game wrapped up in one single package!
As Roger launched into the story it became obvious that he relished this particular panel more than any other he would lead all weekend. Roger truly does love history and has spent time reading up on the lives of the pirates you’ve heard of and many more that you haven’t – so his fun late night demonstration had a nugget of education at its heart.
Each time he mentioned Pokey Joe or Taters McGee or Stabbybeard he’d grab their bottle and take a big swig. If he happened to forget to take a swig the audience would quickly remind him.
As the panel neared the 30 minute mark it was apparent that Roger was slowing down a bit, and that it was all building up to something that could only be solved with the help of a custodian with a mop and a bucket and some of that weird smelling granular powder they keep around for emergencies.
Roger hefted a bottle of Blackheart rum to his lips and began to take a swig.
And then it happened.
Roger threw up a little in his mouth, right in the middle of a sentence.
His hand shot up to his mouth and he made a noise like “glurb” or “glarf” or “hrunk” (I can’t exactly remember at this point, because I was too busy being horrified that something extremely bad was about to happen).
Everyone in the room knew what was happening as soon as Roger had gone “glunk” – in fact we’d known that’s where we were headed all along. It was the only place he could go. As he stood there with his balled fist held in front of his mouth I heard him apologize very, very softly to the room in general: “Sorry.”
The people in the back probably didn’t hear that apology, due to the continuing roar of shocked laughter ringing around the room. I was surprised to find myself standing outside the room thanking my lucky stars that he hadn’t gone full Gallagher on those of us on the 2nd row – I had apparently evacuated very quickly.
The staff member working the door to Roger’s panel informed me that “We have a wheelchair standing by for him after what happened last year”.
I should have listened to the archeologist’s warning, not the pirate and his “bad fish sandwich” excuse!
Once Roger was sure he wasn’t going to hurl he gamely concluded his performance. A few people swarmed the stage to congratulate him, while the rest escaped out the door and down the hall before anything worse happened, a funny story in their back pockets to share with their friends.
After the panel I went up to snap a selfie with Roger to commemorate his epic barfing storytelling session.
Dea snuck into a shot and everything was going fine until she yelled out “There’s vomit on the table!!”
That’s about the time I left.
Thanks for the epic adventure, Captain Rumpot!