Robin Hemley: A Brief History of an Odd Bar
Remembering the Hobbit House and its iconoclast owner.
By Robin Hemley
I hesitated to enter the Hobbit House my first time in Manila. Simply entering seemed a betrayal of my self-conscious sense of ethics as a liberal white American. I imagined dwarf tossing, dwarf wrestling, drunken and demeaning displays to entertain little-brained people of otherwise average height and size. I knew better than to call little people anything other than that or possibly dwarves, which was acceptable, but never midgets and certainly not hobbits. I would never have worn a T-shirt that read, “World’s Shortest Waiters.” And yet there was a certain frisson about crossing the threshold of this bar, to be honest. Perhaps this was a form of rebellion against my mother, something she would have considered unforgivably “gauche,” in her terminology. All the same, I entered.
I am not big on morals, especially in stories about real life. But if there is one here, perhaps it is this: One tends …
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