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Toby the Penguin and Fiona the foxy Panda

About a year ago I went to Hawaii. I stayed in this luxurious hotel by the beach, with a bar that served the best lightning flavoured cocktails. Each evening I went to the bar for my daily cocktail.

On my third evening I thought I’d try out something new. I ordered a music flavoured cocktail. It wasn’t very good though: it tasted like Miley Cyrus Ft. Kings Of Leon… Horrible! Because I didn’t want the bartender to feel offended I drank it anyway.

When I was trying to finish my cocktail I heard someone snivelling. I looked around to find out that it was a penguin sitting on the other side of the bar, sobbing. I asked Julio (the bartender) what was wrong with the penguin and he replied: “I don’t know. He arrived half an hour ago and asked for a glass of heartbreak. Once he had two of them, he started wailing.”

After an hour or two Julio was getting testy. The penguin hadn’t ordered any new drinks and he was driving the other customers away with his crying and mumbling. I decided to find out why he was so sad. I sat down next to the penguin and asked him what his name was. He shortly replied “Toby”. When I asked Toby why he was crying he tried to get rid of me by saying: “Leave me alone! I don’t want to talk to anybody.” But I didn’t give up and replied: “Listen, I’m not Anybody. Anybody is sitting by the beach with his wife, Somebody.” He stared at me with his big sad eyes. To break the awkward silence I asked him whether he fancied another drink. In a shaky voice he replied: “No thanks, I still have some…” Soon I noticed that Toby was catching his tears in his glass and was drinking these. After a minute of complete silence Toby started talking…

“I used to have it all. I was a rich business penguin, I had a wife Cindy and three beautiful children: Alf, Ralf and Calf. After being married for 4 years Cindy left me and the kids for a new life in Bollywood. This was the saddest day of my life, this is also when I started drinking. I usually drink three heartbreaks. Once I’ve finished those, I become so emotional that the homemade heartbreaks start pouring out.” At this point he started crying again. I gave him a few pats on the back and said to him: “There, there… Toby, drinking is not the solution. What about your children?”

Toby looked at his glass and continued: “My children hate me, they’d probably rather see me dead… Two years ago I still was a successful businessman. I couldn’t quit my job to take care of the children, we needed the money! So I hired a nanny to take care of them. The children hated her and hated me for leaving them alone with the nanny all day. They described her as an ugly, overweight version of Julie Andrews (you know, from the films “The Sound Of Music” and “Mary Poppins”). One day I came home and found her in the living room, singing very badly to my children. They were dressed in clothes made of curtains and looked at me in horror. After seeing this, I fired her. I think that’s the last good choice I made for my children. When I started talking about getting a new nanny the children begged me not to. I hired one anyway: a hot, I mean, nice bird from Italy. From then on everything went downhill again: my drinking habit grew stronger, I lost my precious job after arriving at work drunk…” Toby shook his head dismissively and continued: “After being unemployed for a year my children tried to confront me with my drinking habit I denied that I had a problem. At some point they told me to choose between them and my bottle of heartbreak. I chose the bottle…”  He drank another shot of heartbreak that he had filled up with his tears and continued: “I took the first plane out of the country and ended up here, in Hawaii.”

After hearing this horrible story I promised Toby that I’d help him with his drinking problem. I told him I’d give him a place to stay if he returned with me to the Land by the Rainbow and if he stopped drinking. I told him he’d love it there: the houses are made of candy, everyone is always very friendly,… The day we arrived in the Land by the Rainbow I went to an AA-meeting with him. Just like all the new members, Toby got a chance to introduce himself and talk about his problems in front of the whole group. When he sat down next to me after sharing his history with the group, he let out a huge sigh. I think it’s safe to say that sharing his problems with the group did him good. At the end of the meeting all the new members got a buddy, someone who has been sober for a longer period and who can guide them through the whole process. Toby’s buddy was a beautiful female panda called Fiona. When Toby saw her for the first time a smile appeared on his face and he got this twinkle in his eyes. (This was the first time I saw him smiling!)

On our way to my house all Toby talked about was Fiona. He kept on saying how beautiful she is and how wonderful she smells. Because I thought he talked about her a lot I asked Toby whether he was in love with her. Toby didn’t reply to this question until a minute or two had past. Then he calmly replied: “I think I am… What should I do?” To which I replied: “Why don’t you text her? Ask her out for dinner… You can tell her that you want to talk about the programme, that you have some questions…” I didn’t think Toby would follow my advice, I thought he’d be too shy to text a woman he fancied. So you can imagine the surprise on my face when I saw that Toby did follow my advice. You should have seen the look on his face when Fiona replied that she’d love to go out with him! This was the start of a beautiful relationship between Toby and Fiona. This was the day Toby started feeling happy again…

(Thanks to @ichbinjon (Twitter) for helping me with find a more appropriate ending to this blog post.)


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