Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Crazy Australian

My longtime friend Paul is known as The Crazy Australian. Mutual friends, when inquiring of his welfare, don't ask "how is Paul?", they ask "how'se that crazy m-fing Australian friend of yours?".

I miss Paul and wish I could see him more often. Problem is, he's living in the Sydney, Australia area right now, and I'm smack dab in Texas. He's a good enough friend that he was best man at my wedding. He's the kind of friend that I can go for 5 or 10 years without physically seeing and immediately upon seeing each other, we're right back where we were the last time we were hanging.

He's been a friend for a long time. When I moved to central Texas to finish my college degree after a few years of policing in Houston, Paul was one of the first folks I met. A fellow student, he lived off campus with another fella *who came to be known* as John Juan, but John Juan is another story entirely.

I became his roommate for quite a while, and we had lots of adventures together. Mostly though, I was, as his mother said "a severely calming influence" upon Paul. Paul was the king of hair-brained ideas for fun but more often just for the excitement, with only one out of a hundred having a snowballs chance in hell of succeeding. I was about three years older than Paul, and we became close friends quickly, as did my long-time best friend Billy Ray.

I tried talking Paul out of doing a lot of stupid shit. Sometimes he even listened.

Paul is, indeed and in fact, Australian by birth and by citizenship. His mother, an impressionable and attractive young English lass, went to Australia on a holiday and met Paul's father, who was then and now a singer in an Aussie rock and roll band. Marriage and Paul ensued, and then divorce and Paul's mom moved to America, where she married at some point Paul's stepfather and other calming influence, David.

Paul could've gotten American citizenship at any time, having been raised from the age of seven in China Spring, Texas, just outside of bible-thumping Waco. As important as his father and step-father in shaping Paul's life was his mother's brother, a secret agent type for the British Empire who had been in the famed special combat unit the SAS prior to entering MI-6 or whatever secret agency he worked for.

Paul had an Aussie accent with a Texas twang, if you can imagine that, because that's the only way I can describe it.

So Paul has been back in his homeland for nearly 10 years. After a somewhat successful career as a competition white water kayaker on the east coast, Paul moved back to his homeland as he said he always wanted to do.

Paul's kayaking career was something he started in his early 30's. When I first met Paul, he was going to college and was also in an aviation education program for a dual degree at a specialized aviation school. The school taught them and got them certified to fly everything from a single engine plane to huge Air Force transports and civilian jetliners like the 707 and the 747.

The reason I will never, ever fly in a plane with Paul piloting is because I have personally witnessed Paul doing "touchdowns", or as it is known in the vernacular, "just trying to kill yourself in an aeroplane".

Touchdowns involve acting like you are gonna land but then at the moment when your wheels hit the ground, you give it the gas and pull up and take off again, without ever really landing. Per se, I mean.

Now, touchdowns are taught to every pilot in their training. There are a myriad of reasons why a landing might need to be aborted, such as a flat tire or an obstruction on the runway, so learning to briefly touchdown then take off has it's place in all pilot training.

Except Paul wasn't doing it at school on the runway under controlled circumstances. Paul did it at pastures and more dangerously, roads with electric wires on telephone poles. I know because I once happened to be fishing in a pond located in a remote portion near Fort Hood Army Base in Killeen, Texas and saw him do what is called "an illegal touchdown", i.e. in a rocky dangerous hilly area, next to the lake I was fishing at. Scared the heck outta me and the danged fool nearly crashed into some huge rock hidden by a bush.

Paul missed his calling as a stunt man. I've seen him jump out of planes on multiple occasions, fly a wide variety of planes large and small, slow and fast, and just do a bunch of daredevil stuff in so many facets of life. Off-Road racing. Check. Scuba diving. Check. Parasailing. Check. Extreme surfing. Check. Bungee jumping in some extreme circumstances. Check. I've never seen him break a bone but he has come oh so close a thousand times.

The point of this post is, that if all stays on course, Paul will be getting married later this year. And he'd like me to attend as best man. So I have to go. Deal is, the wedding will be *at this point in the planning stages* in Fiji. Worse case scenario, the wedding will be in Australia.

Although Paul has had *many* relationships since I've known him, *some even serious*, this is his first marriage. All I know is the she is "Brazilian" and has a 20 year old daughter, therefore I gather she is in her late thirties or early forties. She apparently "comes with money" as a friend of mine used to describe the born rich, and treats him well and loves him dearly.

I'm sure he will marry as I did, on or at a beach, and I can understand Fiji as a destination marriage location. All I know is, I already know what fly rods and ocean fishing gear I'm taking, and yes honey, I know we'll have to pay extra to ship my tackle box and fishing rod case. I'm not a light packer when it comes to fishing expeditions, but that's another story.

So either way, I'll get to spend some time with the Crazy Australian.

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