Monday, 27 April 2015

Tubby Tommy

If there's one thing I've learned from years of standing behind this bar its that the more stupid a person is, the more convinced they are of the brilliance of their words. Only the wise are filled with doubt. I know this was said by someone very famous, I just don't know who.

Another thing that I am convinced of is that stupidity and cruelty go hand-in-hand. As proof of this theory, I'd like to tell you about Tubby Tommy.

The other night, a few blowhards had gathered at the end of the counter, trading stories. As the tide of bullshit flowed from them I pretend to listen, and polish a few glasses. Sometimes you have to be a bit forgiving of crassness, it is a pub after all.

As the night drew on, the tales got taller as pint after pint vanished. About an hour before closing-time the door swung open and Tommy entered the bar. Tommy is a lovely chap, it's true, he's about as tall as he is wide, but that hardly justifies calling him, "Tubby Tommy," which is just what one meat-head at the end of the bar shouted.

"Well if its not, Tubby Tommy himself. Come over here and grab a stool, lad," said the biggest of the guys, sharing a nasty wink with his buddies.  I can tell you, my hackles began to rise, but these fellas had been filling the till all night so I bit down on my tongue and moved a little closer to keep an eye on the group. Tommy smiled in his innocent way and wobbled over to join them. Tommy is a famous face about town, he works for the council, keeping the place tidy by sweeping the roads. Rain or shine, he'd push his cart around the town diligently taking care of his business while sharing a friendly smile with anyone he passed. Tommy isn't about to appear on "Mastermind" any time soon, but that only put's him on par with the men he was joining at the end of the bar. It was clear they thought differently. I served Tommy up his usual pint of Harp and as he sucked the foam over the lip of the glass. The guy who had given the nasty wink asked Tommy if he was going to vote, yes or no, on the upcoming referendum. The referendum the man was referring to was on being the first country in the world to allow same sex marriage.

"I haven't decided yet," said Tommy, putting down his glass and licking his lips.

"Ah, Jesus, Tubby, it's either yes or no, how hard can it be?" sneered the big ape, making all the chimps join in with jeers of there own.  Tommy just smiled, the ridicule going completely over his head.

"It's a lot to think about," said Tommy.

"It's easy, Tubby, should they allow gay people get married, or not."

Tommy smiled and said, "When you put it like that, yes."

"So you don't believe in God, so?"

A worried look passed over Tommy's face and he said, "Of course I do, I go to mass every Sunday."

"If you vote yes, Tommy, the priest will throw you out of the church and you'll go to hell when you die," said the guy, sharing a sly wink with me. I felt like pulling that eyeball out of its socket.

"They wouldn't do that," sputtered Tommy.

"Oh yes they would. It's in the rules, Tubby."

"I'd better vote no, in that case. Mammy would never stop crying if I got thrown out of the church, she'd be shamed."

"So that means your a Homophobic, Tommy, they will put your name in the papers," sneered the guy finishing the last of his drink and slamming the glass on the counter.

"I am not," said Tommy, sheepishly clearly having no idea what a homophobic was, but not liking the sound of it.

"Not what Tubby?"

"What ever you said," said Tommy.

"A homophobe, Tubby. A gay hater, if you vote no, that's what you will be," teased the group. Taking it in turn to call Tommy different names. I'd had enough so I swiped up their glasses. "Enough now," I said, in a way that made it clear they were about to cross a line.

"Yea, fair enough," said the leader of the group, getting off his stool and walking toward the door followed obediently by his shuffling disciples. When they were gone, I turned to Tommy and said. "Don't mind them Tommy, you vote what every way you want."

"It's still a lot to think about," said Tommy seriously, sipping his drink while I cleaned up the rest of the bar. I was mobbing the floor behind the counter when something made me stop and ask, "Why did you let them call you Tubby?"

"Them lads?" asked Tommy, pointing towards the door.

"Yea, them and all the rest," I said, leaning on the mop.

Tommy laughed and slapped his belly for emphasis when he said,"I'd rather have a keg than a six pack."

"Don't you mind, it then?"

"Na," said Tommy, finishing his pint. "Them kind of guys just feel bad about themselves. That's why they say those things, it make themselves feel better I think. It's a bit sad really."

Tommy wobbled to the door throwing a cheery wave over his shoulder. "Night so Squid, I think I'll vote yes, just don't tell Father Tom," he said, and with a shy giggle Tommy vanished into the night. I was stunned by the pearl of wisdom I had just heard and from Tommy no less. Perhaps he might appear on Mastermind after all, if they have a category called seeing the world as it is.

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