What has ever been hotter, male-of-the-species division, than the Australian? Paul Hogan as Paul Hogan. Paul Hogan as Crocodile Dundee. Crocodile Dundee as Paul Hogan. The Shark. All those blond-doll hunks defending the America's Cup. Even the politicians. The prime minister, Bob (not Robert) Hawke, has the dandiest straight-back wave left anywhere in the male kingdom. The Fatal Shore, Robert Hughes's best-seller about Australia's development, even makes matinee idols out of cheap scoundrels and common sneaks-men, till friskers, pradnappers, buzz-gloaks, bolters and bushrangers like the fabled Michael Howe and Martin Cash.
"And don't forget Men At Work," says Martin Cash's great-great-great-grandnephew, getting this discussion back on a high plane. "They really made people recognize Australia." Got that, Rupert Murdoch? And don't forget Mel Gibson, who gave one of the best standing-up kisses in film history to Sigourney Weaver in The Year of Living Dangerously. Men go to Australia to learn to kiss like that. Women go to Australia to get kissed like that.
Not only are Australian men spot on, but they also have gotten this reputation despite their habit of giving each other the twerpiest nicknames. Rochie and Dibles, Hoadie and Edo, Mackers, Dave-O, Fitzie and Cashy, for example, are all nicknames of manly Aussie tennis stars. Still, Australian men remain chic—like Australian everything. "Everybody I meet wants to go to Australia," says Martin Cash's great-great-great-grandnephew. "And I know how they feel. Because I want to go to Australia, too."
He smiled. He was in the Green Mountains of Vermont, come from California, packing for Montreal. He keeps house in London with his girlfriend, a Norwegian he met in Houston, and their baby boy. He is away from home for months at a time.
Martin Cash's descendant, Cashy, the Wimbledon champion, is only 22, but already he looks forward to when he can get back to Melbourne, get with his mates, stick the sheilas over in the corner, have another shout of Foster's and watch Aussie Rules football. "I couldn't think of anyplace else in the world to live," he says.
However, until these recent months, Pat Cash was a hero rejected by many of his self-conscious countrymen, who were either embarrassed by him or, worse, afraid that he would embarrass Australia. Cash was an unrepentant high school dropout given to vulgar temper on the court and discomfiting gaffes off it. Like some rowdy buccaneer, he favored long hair, a bandanna and a bejeweled earlobe. He seemed to inherit all the worst of America from his mother, Dorothy, who was born and bred in Chicago, and the worst of family from his father, Patrick Sr., a combative lawyer who championed his son's rebellious instincts and assailed his critics.
That he reminded people of another temperamental tennis player who loves the guitar and has a lawyer for a father made Cash all the more aggravating. If you don't care for John McEnroe, you sure aren't going to tolerate a discount McEnroe. Moreover, all the Aussie champions who came before Cash—no matter how fun-loving, audacious and flippant some might have been—were well-mannered, respectful and a credit to their mates.
When Cash won Wimbledon and clambered up into the stands to the players' box to embrace his coach and family—surely one of the most engaging actions ever by any athlete—his mother, who was watching at home on TV, was mortified. "I couldn't believe he would do that," says Dorothy. "The English will think. Oh, those Australians!"
What do you make of a 22-year-old whose two heroes are Mother Teresa and Clint Eastwood? While on court, Cash is demonstrative and bold, often venturing the most difficult shots. But by his own admission, he is painfully shy. Often when talking he turns his whole head—not just his eyes—away from the listener. As a result, he can come off as uncouth and rude.
Cash mumbled his way through one memorable press conference with his feet up on a table, while spittle and bits of a sandwich he was devouring spilled out of his mouth. In another, as cameras whirred, he leered in a joking aside about a trip he was to make to Queensland and the sexual adventures he planned there with three women. Last January, after he lost to Stefan Edberg in the final of the Australian Open, sponsored by Ford, his entire on-court speech consisted of the following: "I'm supposed to thank Ford and all that other junk, but I'll leave that to Stefan." Shortly before Wimbledon he referred to women's tennis as "rubbish."