December 19, 2009 8:47:00 PM
Jan Swoope - email@example.com
Shane Tubbs would be the first to tell you he''s still got a big dose of kid in him. And Shane Tubbs loves Christmas. It''s one of the reasons the irrepressible skateboarding, singing deacon -- and can we add actor? -- easily sheds any ribbing he gets from the guys for turning into the gingerbread man every December.
How did it all get started?
"My wife leaves me alone at home for too long by myself," he laughed.
Always smiling, seldom still, this 31-year-old auto technician with an aversion to idleness and an easy charisma says his interest was piqued about six years ago. That''s when his wife, Melissa, the general manager of Harvey''s in Columbus, gave him a pre-made gingerbread house kit.
Convinced he could improve on that version, Shane bought a few store-bought pieces of flat gingerbread and tested his skill. Now he prides himself on making his annual creation completely from scratch -- including the "glue" that holds all pieces together, the icings he "paints" with and even the hard candy he uses for windows and roofs.
Friends and family never know what design Shane will come up with. One year, it was a skateboard ramp, last year a large Advent house. This time around, he tackled a gingerbread model of his place of employment, Express Service Center, in East Columbus. He even added his co-workers to the piece. A good friend, Daniel Petters, pitched in to help with and paint faces on the miniature crew.
What did they think of being immortalized in sugar and egg whites?
"They thought it was hilarious I was even going through with it," Shane chuckled. "I guess they didn''t realize I could actually do it."
A tiny, store-bought model car sits in one of the gingerbread service bays.
"That''s the only thing I didn''t make myself; everything else is from scratch, even the black icing for the asphalt, except I did use ready-made icing for the curb because I needed something really thick."
When pressed for why he goes in for such a pastime, the Tuscaloosa, Ala., native said, "I think it''s the something-to-do aspect of it. And now that I''ve done it a few times, it''s a big challenge. Like, seeing what I''m capable of and how much stress am I willing to go through to do it."
The tasty structures, he said, eventually "fall to pieces." "I won''t let people eat ''em because I''m attached to ''em."
No one-trick pony
There are, of course, other sides to this quirky take on a Renaissance man.
"Unlike some people," fellow Murrah''s Chapel church member Angie Basson said, "Shane is a jack of all trades and master of a lot of them."
He picked up skateboarding at age 23, almost by accident. The former football and roller hockey player was looking for an athletic outlet.
"I was out roller blading with a friend who had a skateboard, and I ended up accidentally learning how to Ollie," he grinned, referring to an aerial maneuver that causes the skateboard to jump. "I fell in love with it, man."
Skateboarders praise him as a strong, vocal advocate who helped spearhead the ramp project at Propst Park. He actually designed -- and built -- much of it.
"Roger Short (of the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority) and the city and the mayor have been really great to us; David Armstrong helped us out a lot with that," Shane said, with gratitude.
Music and film
Some folks know him as a humorous and talented performer at Columbus Arts Council open mic events, where he delivers Tim Wilson''s "First Baptist Bar and Grill" to uproarious laughter and sometimes performs with Basson.
"Shane''s always going. If he can make it fun, that''s where he''s going to take it," she said of her friend.
One of his deepest joys is playing what he calls bluegrass gospel on Wednesday and Sunday nights at the church on Highway 69 South, where he teaches Sunday School to youngsters.
"Murrah''s Chapel is seriously the greatest church on earth in my opinion," he said. "We have a close church family. They''re always behind me about my music -- and they even asked me to be a deacon, with my haircut," he grinned, referring to his usual look -- shaved, with a mohawk on top so long it drapes to one side.
At present, though, he has a more mainstream style, thanks to his foray into film.
Having seen Shane at an Arts Council open mic, producers of the Genesis Media Productions short film, "The Flight of Calvin Waters," asked him to play one of the central characters and to perform part of the score.
"It was all shot here in Columbus, I believe," he said, speaking of the film that may be ready for public screening in January.
"It was my first big acting gig, my first any-acting gig. It was awesome. I really didn''t expect it to be as big a thing as it was, but it was really something, all business. But yeah, I had to cut my hair for the movie," he smiled.
While he waits for his signature do to grow back, Shane is eagerly anticipating Christmas and turning a thought or two to what he can conjure up in the gingerbread kitchen next December.
Whatever the new year holds, he''ll gratefully look for the positive -- and no doubt find a few ways to spread smiles.
"After all," he said, "anybody that knows me knows I''m not happy unless I''m doing something ridiculous."
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.