My father was a Navy Captain. When I was six, my family spent 21 days at sea. On Halloween there was a costume party for the kids on board. I was wondering what to be when the Captain said, “You’re Pecksbadboy!” I didn’t know what he meant but it was clear the Captain did, and he was busting proud.
He dressed me in his golf cap so I had to hold my head up to see. I wore rolled-up trousers and a khaki shirt and shoes so big I shuffled when I walked. “Perfect!” he said.
It was a splendid turnout of witches and pumpkins and cowboys and fairies, bats and monsters and ghosts—and Pecksbadboy. We paraded around the ship and everyone cheered. Then we stood before the judges for “best costume.” They smiled at me and I smiled back. “Who are you?” one asked. I held up my head and said, “Pecksbadboy!”
“Peck’s Bad Boy? But you’re a girl.” The judges looked at one another and frowned. Then they laughed. Then everyone laughed. My face got hot and I could hardly breathe. But I held my head up, and not to see who won. I was Pecksbadboy, the Captain’s kid. And so I am, and busting proud. If anyone finds that funny or wrong—it just doesn’t matter. jb