Tough Guy with a Heart of Gold
Paul looks young for being 50. But when he speaks, he draws from the wisdom of a much older man. He's lived several lifetimes in his lifetime, and accumulated volumes of good stories. Ask him about his time in a punk rock band, his life as a bouncer, or the time he guarded heavy equipment for a mining company. Oh yeah, and a pro football player in Italy? Of course, following the natural progression, he's now a middle-school teacher.
He's a modest mountain, towering over me with a sly grin. But what strikes me most is his habitual over-polite conversational style. Paul will get halfway into a story and suddenly chide himself, asserting that you must be bored by now, and he should give you a moment to speak. It's endearing, and the kind of thing I wish more people would be aware of.
So it was my pleasure to interview Paul, and give him an opportunity to speak about himself without that lurking cloud of self-doubt.
SPLOTCH!: What did you have for breakfast?
PAUL: I had an HEB brand microwave burrito, piece of toast with peanut butter on it, and um, a cup of milk.
SPLOTCH!: Where was your last vacation?
PAUL: Fort Davis. Texas. No internet, no movies, no cable. Just a sky full of stars and a family that wanted to kill each other.
SPLOTCH!: What's the most amazing thing that's ever happened in your life?
PAUL: There's two answers. The one that everyone would give is like- is when my first child was born, I looked down at her, and she's this very long... Baby. And I was holding her in my arms and realized that uh... That I'd been listening to her heartbeat on the microphone, like a little toy submarine propeller. And this is this person right there, and she's looking kind of unfocused on me or whatever. I'd just given her a bath after she was born. And it was the most powerful... Experience... Of my life.
The other answer has a lot to do with um... Driving a 1968 Firebird down 35, and we hit about a hundred and fifty, and the car started shaking and rising up and I smelled burning brakes as I tried to slow down and I survived through that. So two things.
SPLOTCH!: Flip-flops: Yes or no?
PAUL: Absolutely yes. Pro flip-flop. With or without socks. Doesn't matter. You rock out with your flop out. It's real. It's a thing, man. Flip-flops yes.
SPLOTCH!: What do you laugh at?
PAUL:. I laugh at my own stupidity. I laugh at the pain and suffering of others, especially if the people, I think, are stupid too. I laugh at fart jokes, toilet humor. I laugh at intellectual stuff. Uh, but I think mainly the funnest- the most fun a person can have is laughing at, uh, at one's own foolishness and the suffering of others... that are fools... and dicks.
We had a good laugh. Paul shook my hand with his gigantic steak paw. He had to run, because his daughter was waiting for him. His absence became the loudest thing in the room. And I looked forward to the next time.