Jennifer Nelson:A pirate’s plea for no tax decree

My friends – we’ll get to them later – said not to write about taxes. “Nobody cares about taxes,” Jonah said.

“Besides,” Sean tried to convince me, “there’s so much going on in the world.”

Yes, there is.

But I was tired of the war before it even started. Now I’m just downright exhausted.

So, as far as I can tell, there’s war, and then there are taxes, which are exhausting too but in a different sort of way.

Death. And taxes.

Death and taxes.


Which might explain why, after filing mine Monday (yes, April 14), I found myself not studying, but in the company of these men, these pirates. Jonah and Sean.

“Nobody cares about taxes,” Jonah said, pushing up the sleeves of his shirt and reaching for his drink.

“Besides,” Sean added in a tone that suggested I should know better, “there’s so much going on in the world.”

“You mean war?” I asked.

“Aye,” he (although I’m not sure which he) said. (OK, maybe he just said yes.)

“I can’t,” I said. “It’s been done. I’ve done it. Everyone’s done it. And it will continue to be done until the war is over.”

The table was quiet for a moment, and even now I’m not sure why. Maybe we were all thinking of the war, of the past week’s news, statues crumbling and rescued treasures. Maybe we were wondering when exactly our refund checks would come, because we all needed another drink. Maybe we were trying to think of something clever or funny or comforting to say. I know I was. But all I could come up with was, “… I think I’ll do taxes.”*

And then he (again, I’m not sure which one) said what all friends of writers say at one point or another: “You could write about us.”

I never take my friends seriously when they say things like this. I usually laugh, give an awkward chuckle and bite my lower lip, then change the subject. That’s what I did Monday. Because no one wants to tell friends they’re not interesting enough. It’s not that. They’re just not news.

But, then I got to thinking.

These aren’t ordinary friends. Like I said before, Jonah and Sean are modern-day pirates, strange and wonderful pirates who’ve circled the globe on ships that fly like birds.

They’ve pulled all-nighters in French villages not because they had to but because life is too short not to. They’ve danced on the equator and seen the sunrise from the edge of the universe. They’ve had Turkish coffee in Turkey and Spanish wine in Spain and one of them, Jonah, once stood on the tip of Africa because that’s what pirates do.

They know baffling things, like how to speak Norwegian, and troubling things, like the fact that people in Nepal watch “Friends.”

They want to go to Kyrgyzstan.

In other words, they are really, really interesting.

Sean’s right. There is so much going on in the world. And not just in The World, but right here, at home in Portland. Our World.

People (maybe even someone you know) are living lives that are better than newsworthy. They are inspiring.

And that is more than I can say for either death or taxes.

* I’ve never claimed to be clever or funny or comforting. Like everyone else, I only try.