Be careful whom you’re nice to!

Gym proprietor  Velda John: Lucky for two early-morning  political bodymen that she wasn’t around when they decided this week to carry on like quarrelsome school-yard kids when they should’ve been pumping heavy iron!

Gym proprietor Velda John: Lucky for two early-morning political bodymen that she wasn’t around when they decided this week to carry on like quarrelsome school-yard kids when they should’ve been pumping heavy iron!

It’s 3 o’clock in the morning on a recent Saturday, and two long-time boozing buddies are having a rum time at a popular Rodney Bay establishment, although they can barely hear themselves above the amplified boom-boom-booming from the customized loudspeakers.

Sharing their table in the darkest corner of the dimly-lit room is the suited-up proprietor, citizen of high standing (which is to say he’s got more bucks than the average bear). Of course his main claim to fame is he knows the difference between a Q-tip and a QC. Come to that, unlike most of his regular patrons, he never has any trouble discerning a bar association from, well, a Bar Association!

As for the other two late-night revelers, one is a particularly well-loved member of his community, most of whom call him PIP short for Phartz Inniz Pantz. Back in the day his recently deceased bluer-than-blue war-veteran father had named his only son after a man who had been especially kind to him, despite being member of Hitler’s Marineflieger. Alas, the old man had passed away before he taught his son that white people are not all bad!

The bibulous threesome were still engaged in their pointless battle with an over-amplified Vybz Kartel when a wet dream in a sprayed-on ensemble that matched her glossy en-rouge lips sashayed past on six-inch heels, en-route to a fellow moonflower at a nearby table.

Pip spoke first: “Gasson dah woman makin’ like some kinda goody-goody church mouse, as if is candles alone dat comin’ between her and her Calvins.”

“Until the sun goes down, that is,” cooed the guy in the suit, his voice as smooth as Nat King Cole’s when he recorded the original When I Fall In Love.

“Yeah,” said the over-excited man left of the proprietor, in his own pickled mind a man of many talents.

“Dere have a lotta woman like dat in dis place. Church mouse by day, rat by night. In de dark dey ready to chew up whatever you put in dere mouth.”

The din from the loud-speakers was no match for the belly-busting guffaws that followed the last gem.

“Awah-awah, gentlemen,” sing-songed the neatly-accoutered silver-tongued bar devil. “C’mon now, Trevor [chuckle, chuckle]. You saying that sweet little dolly is really a disguised rat? Come, come, be nice [chuckle, chuckle, chuckle]. A rat?”

Ah, yes, be nice! Abruptly I am reminded of something I read seemingly a century ago, from a book that I lifted off my father’s bookshelf. In truth it was hardly a bookshelf: four bits of crudely cut plywood nailed to a wall near his bed.

Of the ten or twelve literary works on the shelf, all but three were related to my father’s passion for bringing sick cars back to health, a passion he shared with my younger brother Vaughan (sadly deceased).

The three items were responsible for my interest in what really was a blue-painted apology for a bookshelf. One of them, I happily recall, was a hardcover volume over a thousand pages long that concerned itself strictly with the English language: usage, grammar, syntax, good and bad sentence construction, and so on. The best part was that it was written in a style often referred to as racy, yet simple enough to hold for hours at a time the interest of an over-energetic 12-year-old.

The second magnet (actually my first love) was an illustrated manual for students of judo, jujitsu and boxing. Then there were my dad’s four dog-eared editions of Readers Digest, one of which had delivered to my young impressionable mind two lessons, one I always remembered too late: “Beware the baleful influence of the more fascinating types of the opposite sex!”

The second lesson—which I’ve never forgotten—was: “Advice is often thinly disguised criticism.”

For reasons soon to become obvious, all of the above came to mind yesterday as I listened in awe to a blow-by-blow replay of an encounter of the weirdest kind that took place, of all places, at Vel’s Gym, named after its exquisitely put together proprietor Velda.

For the especially imaginative, I need quickly add that Vel’s is a health emporium; a heavenly place where the stresses of daily life can be pounded out of the system via particular exercise routines designed for the enhancement of body and soul. Some prefer to start their day with a good workout, the better to prepare themselves for their hectic work schedules, or to help them recover from overdone nocturnal activities. Only genuine nutcases would find cause to disturb the unique atmosphere at Vel’s.

By reliable account the current tourism minister (doubtless acting on the advice of his colleague the “you-are-what-you-eat” health minister Alvina Whatshername!) was doing his daily dose at Vel’s when in strode his predecessor, himself set on shedding a couple hundred kilos, perchance to discourage comparisons with the two fattest guys in the House.

The previous evening the latter had attended an artery-clogging, calorie-loaded SLHTA dinner during which the tourism minister was expected to deliver the keynote address but had proved a no-show, by some accounts without explanation.

So, doubtless overjoyed at discovering it was not chikungunya that had prevented his successor from attending the fat feast with his somewhat pyknic prime minister, the former tourism minister and party leader sans constituency, tried, well, to be nice: he put out his hand, hoping the minister might do likewise, and when that did not happen, asked: “So how are you feeling?”

Possibly recalling the last House session, the minister growled, eyes locked on his impressive image in the gym mirror: “As you can see, I’m just as I was the last time you saw me. “What were you hoping?”

Thrown off balance by the unexpected riposte, the former tourism honcho stuttered: “Well, you know, since you were not at the SLHTA dinner I thought maybe you were . . .”

The current office holder cut him short: “Whatever! As you may have noticed, I’m doing just fine. But just so you know, I don’t appreciate your texting people all over the world about my absence at . . .”

“And I don’t appreciate the way you’re always talking about my phone bills at the ministry and how much traveling I did as tourism minister and all that other stuff you keep repeating.”

They reminded of young girls down by the schoolyard arguing over boyfriends.

The office holder turned to face his red-faced predecessor. “You don’t like it? Well, get used to it anyway. You’ll be hearing a lot more of that.”

“In that case,” said the party leader, sounding like yet another lawyer with his eye on a career in politics, obviously no longer pretending to be nice.

“I think you’d be well advised to do some real work for local tourism, for a change.”

He struck a nerve with that low blow: “What the hell you saying? I’m twice the tourism minister you ever were and will never be again!”

By this time they were chest-to-chest, ears smoking.

“Oh, yeah?” said the party leader. “You’re so full of it. I prescribe for you a strong laxative that’ll get all that accumulated crap out of your system.”

That did it. The minister dropped his dumbbells, turned around again to face the party leader, eyes like billiard balls:  “Just step outside and say that again, if you dare!”

All of that because the other guy had merely tried to be nice (I think!).

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