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Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Tony is toothless and apparently, likes mashed potatoes; a wise menu choice for someone who is sans teeth. For years now, I’ve noticed Tony wandering around town all alone, not a tooth in his head, and painfully thin. He always has his shirt tucked in and a belt synched tight around the waist. He is so skinny that I am sure he had to punch a new hole in his belt so it could properly hold up his pants.
Although “Toothless Tony” is not his real name, it is certainly fitting, and the name that comes to mind whenever I see him. Despite his lack of teeth and questionable mental clarity, he always seems a happy sort, with a smile ever present on his face and a bounce in his step. But these days, Tony has a bigger reason to feel chipper other than just a general love of life.
Tony has a lady friend; a Ying to his Yang, a match to his scuffed shoe. She is around the same age as Tony, maybe in her 50’s or 60’s, with a body that is soft and round. Tony’s lady has monotone coloring, with a fluff of blond hair almost the same color as her skin. This is apropos since it reflects the blandness of her expression. I’m not sure what it would take for Tony’s girlfriend to have an emotion register on her face, but I have never seen any sort of reaction from her.
But her non-reactive personality doesn’t seem to be a deterrent to Tony. He often can be seen guiding her through the streets of our town. Although her shuffle is reminiscent of someone who is heavily medicated, Tony keeps on talking a blue streak, while she placidly follows along with her gaze never really focusing on anything.
Recently, I spotted the lovebirds at a local fair, and all I can say is that Tony is one chivalrous, romantic dude. He was leading her around the fair grounds, pointing here and there while giving a running narrative of the rides and concessions. She walked beside him with a detached air, barely glancing at the raucous amusements. I don’t know how anyone could not be star struck or at least dazed by the over-the-top lights, sounds, and smells found at a fair, but she didn’t respond to any of it.
I saw them again about a half hour later, and there was Tony’s lady with a huge Teddy Bear clutched to her chest. Her face was as vacant as ever, but Tony had a huge toothless grin, obviously proud of winning his woman a prize.
A month after that sighting, I saw the pair walking together in town. Tony was talking a mile a minute and she, as usual, was a blank canvas. Tony suddenly stopped to pick an item up off the sidewalk. I mistakenly thought he had dropped something, until I noticed that he had found a discarded cigarette, which he promptly lit.
I glanced at his companion to see if she would be aghast at this act. To be honest, what I was really hoping for was some sort of life to flicker across her face.
But, ever the gentlemen, Tony handed the cigarette to his lady love so she could have the first puff. There apparently is no limit to his thoughtfulness.
A little while later, I was out in front of my house when my path crossed with the couple again. I caught a snippet of their conversation as they passed by.
“I like mashed potatoes,” Tony shared with his girlfriend, as he helped steer her around a rock on the sidewalk.
“Now see, this a better way for you to go. This is the way you should go next time,” Tony continued. Perhaps he was giving her a preferred route to her previous, less desirable way of going. I could imagine that he may be concerned if she were to walk alone past a busy road. I’m not sure how aware she is of her surroundings. But, with Tony acting as her human guide dog, he can make sure she is kept out of harm’s way.
I find it very interesting that your first thought when seeing Tony could very well be, “I hope this guy has someone helping him out.” But as it turns out, he is the caregiver who looks out for his lady’s wellbeing by steering her in the right direction and caring about her needs and safety.
Obviously, you don’t need to have a tooth in your head or even weigh more than a large child to be a true gentleman. Tony is quite a guy and I hope that his lady knows it. I hope that somewhere, deep inside that blank exterior, she is smiling.