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Bubba, Red Man’s Shill at Olympics


hadn’t seen Bubba Whartz at The Blue Moon Bar for a couple of months, and one hot August day, later in the month, I stopped in for something cold and found him sitting at the bar, alone, the only customer in the place. He had no one to talk to. Doobie was busy stocking beer coolers. Bubba looked lonely, I thought, as if he could use a friend, so I took the bar stool right next to him and said hello. I startled him, actually, but when I told him that I had missed him at our mutual watering hole, he brightened up some immediately and smiled at me. Then he said, “Doobie, bring us a couple of beers, would you please?” Doobie looked at me, because she knew I would be paying for them, and I gave her a slight nod of my head to indicate that I was aware of the play in progress and that it was all right with me. “It’s nice to be missed,” Bubba said as he downed the nearly full glass of beer that was already in front of him before the new order arrived. “Where have you been? It has been a while,” I declared. “I have been in England, at the Olympics, Olympic sailing, actually. I thought the sailing events were going to be on the Thames, but they were in other places,” Bubba responded. My mother, who was born in England, in Charing Cross, London, always referred to the river in London as if it rhymed with “hems,” making the “h” silent. Bubba pronounced it so that it rhymed with “trains,” pronouncing the “h” as well. It was a first for me, but I ignored it in the interests of having a stress-free chat. “What other places?” “Weymouth and Portland,” said Bubba. “That’s where the sailing venue was.” “Gee, Bubba, that’s terrific,” I exclaimed. “I didn’t even know that you had competed and won at the Olympic Trials. What kind of boat did you sail and how did you do?” “Oh, I didn’t sail,” said the live-aboard, live-alone sailor. “I never even got out on the water. I was there as a

representative for Red Man Chewing Tobacco, but I didn’t have a pass to get into the Olympic Village, so I was restricted to proselytizing out on the street.” “You did what out in the street? “I proselytized,” responded Bubba. “Security was tight over there, I know. Didn’t that get you arrested?” I questioned. “No, not at all,” smiled Bubba, probably having a private moment of amusement with my personal confusion. “It wasn’t like I was carrying a firearm or a bomb. By the way, do you even know what proselytize means?” I admitted that the word was beyond my ken. “It means that I was trying to convert others, in this case American Olympic sailors, to using Red Man Chewing Tobacco as an offensive weapon out on the racecourse,” Bubba explained. “Offensive weapon, Bubba? What the hell are you talking about?” “Well, it takes some practice. You don’t get to be an expert the first time out of the box, just like sailing,” Bubba replied. “But, for example, if an American Olympic sailor were closing in on an opponent downwind in a Laser radial, then the American could discharge a squirt of Red Man juice; the air would carry it and put spots all over his competitor’s sails, distracting the competitor. Then the American could slide right on by while the competitor was wondering how his brand-new white sail ended up with brown spots all over it.” “Bubba, you may not know this, but the only people who competed in the Olympics in Laser Radials were women. How in God’s name are you going to get American women to start chewing Red Man when they are racing?” I asked. “Are you sure you have your facts right?” Bubba asked me. “Of course, I am,” I emphasized. “I am a journalist and we are supposed to get the facts right. The only exception to that is Geraldo Rivera. He gets a pass.” “Hmmmm. No wonder I wasn’t having any luck get-

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September 2012


Southwinds September 2012

Southwinds September 2012