Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friends... Just a Click (and 10,000 miles) Away

If you follow Grumbles and Grins, then you know about Jack Ramsay, my Scotsman pal who lives Down Under. You know what a great friend he is, and what a colossal pain in the neck he can be. You know Jack proof-reads my writing and gives me (really sad, pathetic) advice. You know he makes me laugh. Makes me mad. And then...makes me laugh, again.

You might remember that I performed a comedy show last year to raise money to donate to charity in his and his wife Alison’s names. Many of you even autographed the poster I had printed of him, which is now on display at Frog Hollow, Karana Downs, Queensland. At least, it had better be on display… That was artwork at its finest!

You also know about my buddy Larry, who traveled 10,000 miles north to Maine last summer for a month-long visit. It just so happens that he lives on Russell Island-- off the coast of Brisbane, and only one hour away from Jack and Ali’s mainland home.

My two friends had never met. They’d never heard of each other until I talked to one about the other, and to the other about the one. It only seemed natural that the two should meet. I mean… if I love them both, then surely, they would love each other!

So, when Larry left Maine, he had Jack’s phone number and address in his possession, and he promised to look Jack up when he got home. I didn’t really hold out a lot of hope that my two friends would make a connection, though. Larry Gilles is as laid-back a man as I’ve ever known. Totally self-confident and completely calm and peaceful. He does things at his own pace.

Much like that of a turtle.

And speaking of turtles, I’ve rarely laughed as hard as I did the night that Larry told me how a turtle broke his foot. It’s true. If ever you think, “Gee… I’d better stay away from _______ or I might break my foot!”…. well, I’ll bet the image of a turtle was not what popped into your head!

I’m not talking big turtles, here, either. Not like a Galapagos Turtle--which can weigh up to 400 pounds! Or even the North American Alligator Snapper, which can grow to 100 pounds at maturity. Nope… I’m talking normal-sized turtles. They kind you keep for pets when you’re a kid. Benign, plodding--and known more for retreating into their shells than for their aggressive, bone-crushing behavior.

Yep. A normal sized turtle broke the foot of strapping, six-foot-three-inch tall Larry.

But see, this was an extraordinary turtle—even though it was tiny in comparison to my Aussie mate. The turtle which snapped his bone in two was a FLYING turtle. I know, I know… I was a tad incredulous, myself. I mean, really! How na├»ve did this man think I was?

However, as accomplished a story-teller as Larry is, he doesn’t exaggerate. He doesn’t fib. The man is so bloody honest it’s scary. If you don’t think you can handle a truthful answer, you do NOT want to ask that man a question. Nope.

Larry was riding his motorcycle cross-county one night when he saw the headlights of a car traveling at speed towards him. Seconds before the bike and auto met, the car’s tire barely grazed the edge of the shell of a turtle who’d been hurrying across the road since sunrise of the previous day. Pinched between bitumen and rubber, the turtle was launched into the air… catapulted to connect solidly with the top of Larry’s boot-clad foot.

There are many more details to this legend than what I’m able to repeat. That’s because I was doubled over, laughing so hard I couldn’t hear his narrative. It’s always been a failing of mine…this propensity I have to get hysterical over silly accidents. It’s not that I didn’t feel bad for my friend. I’m sure getting a tarsal bone busted by the armor of a terrapin was terribly painful.

Ah, but the images! A big bruiser of a biker… a mean, sexy machine… both brought low by a wee little turtle. Did the poor tortoise have time to pull himself inside his shell before he struck leather-coated flesh? Or were his scaly little arms and legs flapping wildly as he tried to ascertain his natural aerodynamics so that he could come in for a smooth landing? What expression was on Larry’s face in that split second prior to impact, when he realized he was about to be undone by one of the most benign reptiles on the planet?

Did he have time to articulate his impression of the event about to take place? Truth be told, there probably wasn’t time enough for words which contained more than… oh, maybe four letters, or so.

Months later, I’m still giggling. My son Guy once had his big toe broken by a lake trout from West Carry Pond… but I’d never heard of a man getting his foot busted by a flying turtle. Those Aussie men! Always gotta get one up on us Yanks!

Anyway, I digress. To my delight, Larry really did call Jack and Ali when he returned to Australia in August. Tickled pink to make the connection, the Ramsays invited him to their home for the weekend, and the three of them bonded instantly and had a grand time. And, I dare say, they consumed enough alcohol to pickle a pig.

Larry and Jack share the same core values, and they both have an excellent sense of humor. They are both brutally honest—and I have the scars and the laugh lines to prove it. But more than anything, Jack and Larry are both very dear friends of mine—and knowing that Jack, Ali and Larry truly liked each other gives me a warm glow, way up here on the 45th N latitude..

This weekend, Jack and Ali are traveling to Russell Island, where—I have no doubt--Larry will be the ‘host with the most’. In some small way, I’ve helped enrich the lives of these three folks Down Under, simply by being the first of many things they have in common. I’m grinning ear to ear as I think of the fun they’re going to have with each other.

And I’ll admit-- since I share that propensity for being honest—I’m a little bit envious, too.


  1. Hey, well you guys purdied me up sweet in that thar postah! Might need to go out and shop for a real handbag before long...

    Pickling pigs in alcohol is a thing of the past for me, Kaz - what with the GFC and my paunch, I can only afford to pickle meself these days. Poor pigs.

    Looking forward to the trip off Australia. Haven't stepped off for a while. And I'll make sure Larry gets a copy of this post :)


  2. Okay... I have no idea what a GFC is... but I bet it tastes good.


    And... 'we' did have fun with the poster. I wish you could have been there...there are 3,300 readers of the Irregular who love you like I do... and who now think you're a bit of a buttwad, too.

    (Hey... here in the hill country, that's a GOOD thing!)

    Thanks, sweetie. Have a gret time at Larry's and give him a big sloppy kiss for me.

    Okay. Hehehe.... That image made me snicker. Like there's a chance in heck of that happening...

    Oh, go play! And know that I'm thinking of the three of you and hoping you have the best of times.


  3. Wait... it just came to me!

    Ground Fault Connector?? Huh??

    (What the dickens does that have to do with pigs and pickling them???)

  4. What a great way to start a weekend - giggles courtesy of Karen ! Loved your story......

  5. Hey, Dozy dear! How wonderful to see you on GAG!

    Perhaps you have a story about a reptile you'd like to share? I have the feeling that the ones you've seen lately aren't quite as benign as the ones Larry hangs out with!

    Come back soon!

    Love you.

  6. Hey Karen

    Thought I'd pop in before heading off to go get 'horizontal' with a good book.

    I sure have seen some reptiles lately - most of them have been over 12 ft long & with lots of very big teeth - pretty awesome creatures & not at all benign. Luckily none whacked me in the boots though......

  7. Must be pissed... haven't yet met my fellow Ozzies and don't know anything about us going to Russel Island together...?
    Ali g

  8. Hey, Ali g! How delightful to see you! You've been away for far too long!

    Now when you say 'pissed'... do you mean ticked off? Mad? Grouchy? Or are you talking the Aussie 'pissed'. i.e. 'in your cups?' You wouldn't be schnookered would you, Ali g?


    Never fear, Larry will find you. He simply works at his own pace. And if you read this article, you'll know what that pace is...

    Personally, I think y'all oughta have a "Maine T-shirt" reunion... a big party/get-together of all you who have received Maine t-shirts from me. There'd be you and Lady M, Dozy, Jack and Ali, Pete and Naomi, Crookedpaw and Larry. Maybe Mrs. Crookedpaw got one, too?

    You should arrange that, Ali...some day when you've nothing else to do! After all, if there's one thing I know you are terrific at, it's making guests feel welcome. And you guys are all so fabulous, you'd have an absolutely wonderful time together!!!

    Oh, well. A girl can dream, can't she? Have a great day, and don't stay away so long, next time. (And I'll TRY to find more time to write...)