Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stan the Man

I had an email from Stan today. I don’t get them very often. He’s busy, happy and living the ordinary life in Aotearoa. Yet there is nothing ordinary about this bloke.

I first met him in 1995 when we were hiring freelance Graphic Designers. We were in a meeting when the receptionist rang through on speaker phone and said “I should probably just warn you that your next interviewee only has one hand!” . . . amid a flurry of giggles and ‘Oooh aaahs’ we wondered how on earth someone with only one hand could drive a mouse and a keyboard, let alone a vehicle to photo shoots and art direction . . still these were the days of equal opportunity and it was time to see what he was made of.

Whilst pretending to work, a very tall, surfie type with white blonde, scruffy hair, was lead towards the light box to show off his portfolio which had been captured on 35mm slides. I swivelled in my chair All I could see was the back of his head, his broad shoulders, tanned ‘arm’ fabulous bottom and long legs wrapped in well fitting dark green Benneton . We all looked approvingly at each other and were encouraging our Creative Director to hire this guy without even knowing the quality of his work. He did . . he was a sucker for the girls and so Stan was hired for a three month contract. He was a Jersey boy . . on a 12 month visa travelling the antipodes with a couple of friends but needed work before reuniting with them on the Queensland coast. He was/is a champion kneeboarder, choosing this because paddling with one hand is difficult, and he can use fins, but he’s also a fine surfer!

We became great pals at work and mucked around on the email. We had a similar sense of humour and family values and developed a long and lasting friendship that I have since discovered wasn't dependent upon constantly being in contact.

Stan had a Van . . he lived in his van which was at the time being parked behind the local pub. In the burbs this is considered highly suspicious and he was being moved on with great regularity. He spent 5 days a week working, living on five minute noodles and peas and then headed north to the beach on the weekend where he could meet up with pals and bludge a decent meal. After feeling sorry for the lad, I invited him in . . he could park in my front garden and sleep in peace. And so began a lovely and lasting friendship. It was a time when my house was seemingly full of party people. We had another freelancer from England who was a regular visitor having lived with us for a few months prior, and another lonely heart who my cousin had just deserted . . .We socialised in the evening, went to the movies, local and distant pubs, had Friday drinkies that went well into the night with the work crew and partied hard. Even with two kids in tow, we had amazing fun.

He is handsome, bright, intelligent and funny and his one arm is no impediment to anything other than cutting his fingernails! He tells the girls he’s been attacked by a shark! In reality, it’s a birth defect that he’s become so used to, there’s nothing he can’t do. Seriously, he’s fixed my wobbly fridge, the toilet seat (you try being a bloke peeing with one hand and the toilet seat keeps falling down), repaired my arial, rustproofed my car, even chopped onions, cooked meals, decorated Easter eggs and made a little horse out of the wire from a champagne cork. He’s just a lovely lad, a quality designer, a slow typist but a great friend. Luck follows him everywhere and despite a few surprisingly failed relationships, he seems to have found his niche.

Over the years, Clare and I have stayed with him in beautiful Jersey, met his family and his favourite haunts and he with us on several occasions in Oz, alone, with girls and even with his mum but it’s been 4 years since I’ve seen him. I haven't hugged the man for a very long time and I miss him much. He now lives in New Zealand his not so new love and nstant family who he’s embraced big time. He’s built a beautiful house on the beach, has great job and is thoroughly enjoying teaching his girls to surf and rising to the challenges of instant fatherhood. As he approaches his 40th birthday, he's happy, settled, calm, in love and living the normal life . . it suits him!Lovely to hear from you Stan and your little brood! If I was 12 years younger . . Tena koutou ehara koei aia Stan!


Nick said...

Well, that puts me to shame seeing all the things he can manage that I can't do at all! I wonder if I would be so capable in the same situation? He sounds like a really lovely guy.

steph said...

BEAUTIFULLY told story!

It has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster!

"Stan the Man in his Van"

More power to you, Baino, for knowing a good thing when you see it :-)

Baino said...

Ah Nick he's a gem. The most resourceful person I have ever met and the luckiest. Thinks just go right for him. Love his bones I have to say although I'm really looking forward to seeing him as the insta-dad!

It's totally true, he had this crappy van that he bought from some backpacker, looked like an old ice cream van and I'd take him a cup of tea in the morning to wake him up. He's a lovely boy and a special friend even though we spend very l ittle time together. He also taught me the virtues of putting pepper on strawberries and chocolate in chili!

Grannymar said...

Wow! Anymore friends like him knocking around? He sounds like a very fine guy.

RED MOJO said...

It's wonderful when someone touches your life, and makes it richer. You have done a great job describing his beautiful soul, not too mention his bum.

Baino said...

Ah Red . . tis a delight to behold. I've decided I have a bit of a thing for surfer's bottoms!

Jefferson Davis said...

He sounds like a great friend, Baino. I had a friend years ago that only had one arm...he raced enduro bikes. It didn't slow him down a bit.

Quickroute said...

It's important to realise who is important but more important to tell them such before they pass this mortal coil. This guy should have a blog too!

Baino said...

JD: By his own admission he is a shit friend! I get apologetic emails once in a blue moon and he never talks to me on Skype! I hear more often from his mother! Hope you're reading this surf god!

Quickroute: Making a one handed man create and maintain a blog is cruel and unusual punishment . . I love it!