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Tom Strubbe

Christopher Locke

Man of many faces

Tom Strubbe is very persuasive. He's got a tempo and cadence like a sportscaster or sideshow barker. So it should be no surprise that he's worked multiple sales jobs in the past. At one point, he was the proud owner of a boat repair shop, and he's happy to tell you stories of his craziest customer experiences. He also is an avid fisherman, a capable drummer and guitarist, and a devoted husband. In addition, he actively pursues all things leisure.

I conducted this interview just outside a diner, north of Austin. People were milling around, waiting for tables, saying their goodbyes, and checking their phones. Tom's wife and my wife chatted nearby. The rain had let up just a bit, so water was still dripping off the building's overhang, and the pavement was slick. The air smelled like it had been steam-cleaned.

We rested our elbows on the windowsill and began.

SPLOTCH!: What did you have for breakfast?

TOM: So, I had a waffle, and I had two scrambled eggs and about three cups of coffee.

SPLOTCH!: Where was your last vacation?

TOM: Puerto Rico.

SPLOTCH!: What's the most amazing thing that's ever happened in your life?

TOM: I helped pull in a 242-pound blackfin tuna in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico... I should say also I was married, but we're gonna go with the fish. Hehehehe [breaks into full laughter]

SPLOTCH!: Flip-Flops: Yes or no?

TOM: Hell yes! Not just yes, but HELL yes. Any time you can get away with 'em!

SPLOTCH!: What do you laugh at?

[I think he gave this next answer without breathing. He didn't really speed through it, he wasn't talking quickly. He just didn't pause between phrases. Remember, he sounds like a sportscaster.]

TOM: Everything and anything, life to me is hilarious, I love things that are juxt- juxtapositions, I like irony, I like things that are very unexpected, I also tend to laugh a lot when very very sit- serious situations occur, but I can instantly see they won't have ramifications if I laugh at them, I do that pretty much constantly. [breathes]

We shook hands, as semi-sophisticated men do. I realized how contagious Tom Strubbe's smile was. As we headed for the parking lot, he patted his full stomach and looked both ways. Climbing into his big white truck, he repeated his catch phrase. “Good times.” And in an instant, he was gone.