FREMANTLE, Australia — By now you’re probably wondering how I pulled it off — keeping the America’s Cup down here in Australia — so I’ll tell you.
It began with a story idea. An interview subject. I had heard tales of the legendary Crocodile DunDeeDee, and though she probably didn’t exist, I went looking for her anyhow. Over highway and byway and into the Outback, into the bush. And then I got out of the bush and hit a tree. For days I searched. And finally, I saw a dusty old tavern.
I pushed through the doors. The tan faces looked up. “I’m looking for . .
. Crocodile!” I said.
Just then a knife came whirling from the back room and stuck with a thud into the bar. It was long and lean, and so was the person who threw it. She came out wrestling a 12-foot alligator. I knew I had found my woman.
She sized me up and offered her hand. “Micki ‘Crocodile’ DunDeeDee, at your service,” she said. Her grip was steel. She yanked me to the dance floor. We did a waltz. Something about Matilda.
“Listen,” I said. “I’m an American sports writer. And I’ve–
“I know what you’ve come for, mate,” she said. “You come to make me famous. Put me in a movie. Let’s go. I’m ready.” Who sips from a cup, anyway?
Well, wait, I said. It wasn’t that simple. For one thing, had she done anything of note? She stared at me, then pointed to her ankle. “Have a look,” she said. “See that? Dog bit me once. Had to walk two blocks to the doctor.”
“Well,” I said, “that’s not exactly . . . “
“It hurt!” she said.
What else? I asked. Nothing much, she answered. Hunted crocodiles, wrestled snakes, lived in a tree. Once she went a whole year on yams.
She walked me through the Outback, through the bush. Then I came out of the bush, and brushed myself off. The night was dark. There were weird animal sounds. She lit a fire.
“Listen,” I said. “I really came to talk about the Cup. What do you think about losing the Cup?”
“Dunno,” she said. “I drink from the bottle.”
“No, no, the America’s Cup. Stars & Stripes? Kookaburra?”
“Kookaburra?” she said. “That’s a bird, mate.”
“It’s also the name of a boat. A yacht. Kookaburra III, the Australian yacht, lost to Stars & Stripes, the American yacht, and now the Australians have to give back the America’s Cup.”
“Well, if it’s America’s Cup, what were we doing with it anyhow?” she said.
I wasn’t sure how to answer that.
“This guy who won it?” she asked.
“Dennis Conner,” I said. “Heck of a sailor.”
“Hard for a man to live just on sailing,” she said. “Does he fish? Hunt?”
“He sells draperies,” I said.
Just then a crocodile jumped out of the water and grabbed my microphone. I should have let it go, but it was a Panasonic, and I got it on sale. “Help!” I screamed. Micki came flying overhead with that huge knife and with one stab the crock was history. It slithered into the water.
“OK,” she said, pocketing the blade. “Let’s see this Cup. Then we make a movie, right?”
“Hey,” I said, “what’s with this movie stuff? You haven’t been talking to–“
“Mick?” she said. “Crocodile Dundee?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Never ‘eard of him,” she said.
Switchblade? No sweat
We drove in my rent-a-car, through the Outback, through the bush. Damn bush ruined my windshield. We reached Perth — where the Cup ceremony was taking place. But as we pulled up, the crowd was dispersing. “Too late,” someone said. “They’ve gone to the airport.”
We sped to the airport. The crowd was huge, thousands of weeping Australians come to see the Cup off. It looked impossible.
“No worries, mate,” said Micki.
She lifted herself up and climbed on the heads of the crowd. I followed behind, apologizing for my boot heels. The Cup was being carried to a Learjet by the Commodore of the San Diego Yacht club. Micki leaped in front of him.
“So this is the mug, mate?” she said.
“Mug me?” said the Commodore. “No, you don’t.” He pulled out a switchblade.
“Watch it! He’s got a knife!” I yelled.
Micki laughed. “Aw, that’s not a knife,” she said, reaching in her pouch.
‘This is a knife . . .”
And so the America’s Cup is now safely back in the Royal Perth Yacht Club. Several hundred people come to see it each day. Micki is a national hero, and has settled into a two- bedroom condo overlooking the Indian Ocean. She has a new line of signature cutlery coming out, and when she is not sleeping, or cooking yams, she is working on her screenplay. She has found the perfect ghostwriter. I get 10 percent.