There was a time some years ago when Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla was so powerful that Tampa shut down even the schools for a day so those pirates could invade the city. A few lonely souls were brave enough to object, among them members of the National Organization for Women.
The women said that by honoring the mythical pirate Jose Gaspar, Tampa was paying tribute to somebody who, even if a fake, was a rapist.
This observation generated mostly laughter.
But now that two black men have joined the Krewe, times have changed, or so we are led to believe.
As a result, NOW wants women admitted to the Krewe.
Theoretically, this is absolutely the right idea. No woman should be barred from a group such as this that can significantly boost her professional standing. This same argument was used successfully with Tampa's University Club.
So if NOW wants to bang on the Krewe's door until the Krewe takes its own sweet time to open it and condescends to admit women, fine.
Thinking this is a worthy goal seems to assume, however, that Jose Gaspar has been secretly shipped off to a shrink for an attitude adjustment and has returned promising no longer to pillage and rape.
That is what pirates do, isn't it?
Or do they just fire guns while prancing around in makeup and tights?
Now, most women already spend a fair amount of their lives in makeup and stockings, if not tights. Nobody has bothered to fete us with a parade, and we are long overdue for one.
I even dream of this parade. It would be led by the Krewe of Everywoman.
This Krewe would not be based on some silly fantasy, but on facts, not all of them especially pleasant.
But the Krewe of Everywoman would still whoop it up big.
Admission would be open to every woman in Tampa Bay. It wouldn't matter whether you lived in a waterfront condo or a second-hand mobile home. It wouldn't matter if you were fat or thin, black or white. Nobody would care if you were single, divorced or married, or if you brought your kids along.
There'd be only two rules:
And No Guns.
We wouldn't need guns, anyway. We could bang pots and pans or jangle our car keys, not only to celebrate but to symbolize all the meals we cook and all the places we chauffeur our children, while trying to conduct the rest of our overbooked lives.
Even with this racket, not all the spectators lining the bay shore would comprehend us immediately. But we would at least have their attention.
That's when the floats would start passing.
There would be floats of women punching the keys of computers, women ringing up cash registers, women nursing their children and giving them strength, women studying for doctorate degrees, women answering phones, women serving in wars, women taking customers' orders in restaurants, women cleaning other people's houses or their own and women making good money in jobs where they are respected for their power.
Regrettably, though, there wouldn't be many of that last group. And frankly, the secretaries would outnumber the managers, the nurses would outnumber the doctors and the paralegals would outnumber the lawyers.
Nevertheless, we would all be doing the best we could. If the Krewe of Everywoman had a central mythical figure, in fact, it might be Superwoman.
She's the woman who, married or single, worries whether women will ever move along in life as fast as men and, if she's a mother, whether her day-care bill is eating up her salary. She asks herself what would happen if it were her husband, not herself, who had to take time off from work to care for their children, and whether her male boss appreciates what is on her mind.
But for one sunny day, while she marches with the Krewe of Everywoman, even Superwoman wouldn't worry.
Surrounded by other women, she would realize her own strengths and have a wonderful time. Everybody would, even the bystanders lining the bay shore.
Everywoman's Parade would be such a success that even men, perhaps also the Gasparilla pirates, would want to join the march.
When they asked, we women would confer among ourselves, toss them a few phony doubloons and a smile _ and promise to get back to them.