I head to Traralgon today to meet James Plunkett or “Plunks,” or “Guns,” as we called him back at MUBC (Ahem, that would be my rowing days . . . harrrumph). Guns is funny. He does not look like a rower. He is built like linebacker with broad shoulders and huge arms... Guns. He is now a Lawyer in his home town of Traralgon, where as he says 90% of lawyers give the last 10% a bad name. A desk job has added some padding to his waistline, but he retains the boyish features and massive arms. In fact, if it wasn’t for these attributes, he might seem intimidating. He’s a master of self-deprecating humor and an aficionado of superman – a fact proven as he wore a Superman shirt out to dinner that night.
That night was St. Patty’s day. We hit the local hot spot - Cargo lounge - to find that on this glorious day for drinking dark beer, it was anything but. Our arrival now necessitated that the staff count the number of customers on two hands. Turns out they had their party on Friday night, and Traralgon was now party-pooped. However, the bartender, in heroic attempt to bring back the sprite of that snake-smiting saint (and no doubt to get rid of the cheap and crappy beer scwag that Guinness no doubt peppered the world with), gave us hats that looked like Frankenstein’s monster ... if Frankenstein’s monster had been a shamrock . . . and a pint of Guinness. It was, in a word, low key, and we sipped our beer in the waning heat of a late summer night, chatting of memories past and the past five years while wearing our Franken-shamy-pinty hats.
As I stated before, James is a lawyer, and while I date myself when I say this, he pulled a "Van Wilder" in College. I should explain first that "colleges" in Australia are, in the roughest American translation, a "fratority" (fraternity + sorority). Guns, using a mix of undergrad, grad school, tutoring and internships, managed to spend 4/5ths of a decade in this dream world that was Queens College at Melbourne University. After spending nearly a year at an office in Melbourne, he came to the realization that as "low lawyer on the legal brief" [I’m proud of that one], his career was better served if he traded country for city and went to work for Steve Plunkett - his dad. In their medium-sized country town it made the paper, and on their refrigerator is a clipping with an almost Jimmy-Stewartesque image of a proud father leaning over his sharply-dressed son with many leather-bound volumes of legal nandies and dandies behind them. I’m not sure what nandies and dandies are. It’s late.