how I almost made it with nicole kidman

Es­ti­mated reading time is 6 min­utes.

FELLOW ROCK & ROLL FAN Steve Adams posted an image on my Face­book page of an Aus­tralian predator. It brought back mem­o­ries that I had long sup­pressed of an event that in­volves three in­hab­i­tants of Aus­tralia: the Mamu, an an­cient spooky thing from the deserts of Down Under; the drop bear, a leg­en­darily fe­ro­cious critter that preys on un­wit­ting tourists; and the ex­tra­or­di­narily lovely ac­tress Nicole Kidman.

I am going to as­sume that Ms. Kidman needs no in­tro­duc­tion, but that the drop bear does. The fol­lowing is taken di­rectly from the Aus­tralian Mu­seum’s web­site entry on the creature:

“The drop bear (Thy­larctos plum­metus) is around the size of a very large dog with coarse or­ange fur with some darker mot­tled pat­terning (as seen in most Koalas). It is a heavily built an­imal with pow­erful fore­arms for climbing and holding on to prey. It lacks ca­nines, using broad pow­erful pre­mo­lars as biting tools instead. 

Ex­am­i­na­tion of kill sites and scats sug­gest mainly medium to large species of mammal make a sub­stan­tial pro­por­tion of the an­i­mal’s diet. Often, prey such as macropods are larger than the Drop Bear itself.

Drop Bears hunt by am­bushing ground-dwelling an­i­mals from above, waiting up to as much as four hours to make a sur­prise kill. Once prey is within view, the Drop Bear will drop as much as eight me­tres to pounce on top of the un­sus­pecting victim. The ini­tial im­pact often stuns the prey, al­lowing it to be bitten on the neck and quickly subdued.”

What the Mu­seum ig­nores is the fact that Abo­rig­inal Aus­tralians be­lieve the drop bear to be a fa­vorite form of a na­tive shape-shifter. They also be­lieve that this shape-shifter has adapted com­fort­ably to the white man’s cul­ture and en­joys taking the forms of movie and pop stars.

I found this out the hard way in 1989 when I was working in down­town Seattle at a for­get­table sales job. I worked the late afternoon-early evening shift, so I was usu­ally at the bus stop a few min­utes after 8 o’clock.


DropBear poster yellow 500

This poster con­tains a simple warning from the Aus­tralian Foun­da­tion for Na­tional Parks and Wildlife: “Look up! Stay Alive.” Nonethe­less, tourists pay no heed, thinking the whole drop bear thing a Down Under joke. I learned the truth of the drop bear the hard way.

Excuse me, I need some help

One night, as I was walking down 4th Av­enue to get the 545 to Bellevue, I heard someone say “Ex­cuse me . . . I need some help.” It came from a table in front of one of the count­less in­de­pen­dently owned coffee shops that made Seattle so mar­velous for espresso-lovers (be­fore Star­bucks wiped many of them out).

I stopped.

I turned.

And there was Nicole Kidman looking up at me from be­neath a paisley babushka.

Now, Ms. Kidman was hardly a house­hold name at that time, but I was a fan of Aus­tralian films and had seen Dead Calm a few months be­fore. I im­me­di­ately rec­og­nized the beau­tiful woman calling for my at­ten­tion. 1

I asked what she needed and she ex­plained that she was in Seattle for some Catholic charity event, and needed some help with “things” in her hotel room.

Would I help?

Hoowah, would I help?!!?

So she asked me to ac­com­pany her to her hotel room (no hard sell there). Once in her room, she was quick about telling me her “needs.”

Al­most bossy about it.


NuraRupert spirits 800

“Mamu (Spooky Spirits)” by Nura Ru­pert is a syn­thetic polymer painting on linen (ap­prox­i­mately 3 x 4 feet, or 92 x 122 cm). It is very dif­fi­cult to find any de­pic­tions of a Mamu, but Ru­pert’s painting cap­tures a child­like sense of the dread of spook­i­ness that is uni­versal in the human spirit.

Bossy women with accents

I was a little nervous—bossy women with Aus­tralian ac­cents were al­most as sexy as bossy women with South African accents—so I had to use the bath­room. I wanted to brush my teeth—make a good im­pres­sion on that first kiss.

I al­ways car­ried per­sonal items along with a sketch­book and pen­cils in my man-bag. My tooth­paste was Tom’s of Maine all-natural, fluoride-free Cin­namint, made with propolis and myrrh.

When I walked into the bed­room, some­thing dropped from the top of the wardrobe onto my head and at­tacked me!

It was screeching and growling.

It was strong as a leopard.

But I didn’t have to fight it off much: For some reason, it screeched loudly and ran out the window and up the fire escape!


Seattle rain painting jer 088 600

De­spite the fact that Seattle has far less rain than most of the other major cities in the states, it’s al­most im­pos­sible to watch a movie filmed in Seattle without one scene of the city in pouring rain. No doubt it’s an archival film made by one person years ago and re­ferred to by di­rec­tors who have never been to Seattle and don’t be­lieve in re­search, This painting by Jer-088 is 6th Av­enue in down­town Seattle. (It wasn’t raining when I thought I’d met Nicole Kidman.)

Nicole Kidman would attract any man

I thought it was a Koala bear but had never thought of them as vi­cious. A little re­search led me to iden­tify it as an Aus­tralian drop bear. Fur­ther re­search with a few knowl­edge­able sources—I had a friend that dealt in the types of in­ves­ti­ga­tions that would have tit­il­lated Mulder and shaken Scully—I con­cluded the following:

1. What at­tacked me was a su­per­nat­ural crea­ture re­lated to the Mamu of the Anangu Pit­jan­t­jat­jara Yankun­yt­jat­jara. 2

2. It had taken the shape of a drop bear, as Mamus never allow them­selves to be seen in their nat­ural form out­side of Australia.

3. It had ini­tially taken the form of Nicole Kidman be­cause it too had seen Dead Calm and thought Nicole Kidman would at­tract al­most any man.

Here is what I also learned: I was lucky that I had my man-bag in the bath­room, as the smell of myrrh re­pulses drop bears. 3

I was very lucky to have es­caped with my life!

Still, I was a bit bummed, you know, as that’s prob­ably as close to sleeping with Nicole Kidman as I am gonna get in this life.


NicoleKidman red hair 1000 crop

HEADER IMAGE: You know what the critter at the top of this page is by now, so who needs to see more, right? In­stead, I’m just going to post a photo of the actress-as-redhead. And yes, this is the real Kidman, not a shape-shifting im­i­ta­tion like the one that se­duced me all those years ago. 4



1  Dead Calm is a suspense-thriller film from 1989 star­ring Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman, and Billy Zane. It was based on the 1963 novel by Charles Williams and filmed around the Great Bar­rier Reef of Aus­tralia. Not bad if I re­call correctly.

2   The Mamu is an Aus­tralian de­struc­tion spirit, a dingo spirit, that eats and ab­sorbs the spirits of chil­dren who stray at night. (God­checker)

3   “When it comes to mag­ical uses, myrrh has a wide va­riety of ap­pli­ca­tions. In fact, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are nearly end­less. Be­cause the scent is fairly strong, it’s often used in con­junc­tion with other herbs or resins, like frank­in­cense or san­dal­wood. As­so­ci­ated with pu­rifi­ca­tion and cleansing, you can use myrrh in a number of dif­ferent ritual and mag­ical con­texts. Try one or more of the following:

Burn myrrh, com­bined with frank­in­cense, in rit­uals re­lated to ban­ishing. In some mag­ical tra­di­tions, myrrh is in­cor­po­rated into work­ings to break hexes and curses, or for pro­tec­tion against mag­ical and psy­chic at­tack. You can also blend myrrh into an in­cense to use for pu­ri­fying sa­cred spaces, or to con­se­crate mag­ical tools and other items.” (Learn Re­li­gions)

I wonder if Tom knew all that.

4   Um, some of the facts above were made up. You figure out which is which . . .




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Brother, you got closer than I ever will...But I’m glad you’ve learned your lesson about hanging around too closely with beau­tiful blondes!

Grommet (?) willing and the levy don’t break, most of the above won’t happen!
Having been a few feet from fame and the fa­mous a couple of times mine-self, I feel your feel­ings of sad­ness and re­straint, but at least the Drop Bear didn’t getcha!
That, ma’bouy, was a close one.

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