All washed up at the cooler
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2Come on. It's 9:01 a.m., I've blown out of my cubicle already after a productive 60 seconds of work, and I'm looking for some Sparkletts at the cooler. What do I get? An empty bottle. No agua.
I feel like the Ancient Mariner -- and I'm not talking about Rickey Henderson.
I've got my boy Johnny -- you remember him, the shoeshine guy from the old "Police Squad" episodes -- but no refreshment.
What's up with that? Aha! I see now. The water boy is delivering the goods. Here he comes, water slung over his shoulder. Big guy. Stocky. High hair. Tribal beads.
It's David Tua.
The man who lost to Lennox Lewis is bucking for Employee of the Month at a bottled-water plant.
"David Tua!" Johnny shouts. "Dude!"
"S'up, brah?" Tua says, engaging Johnny in an elaborate Samoan soul shake. The hand gesture takes up about 15 seconds, ending with Tua embracing Johnny as if they were long lost cousins. Island soul, baby -- you can't beat the love.
"But on Saturday, you were in Vegas, fighting for the heavyweight championship ..." I stuttered, unable to finish my thought.
"And now I'm delivering bottles of water, brah," Tua said, knowingly.
"What can I say? They found me out. The cannibal stories, the warrior ancestry, the banana trees I knocked down in the South Pacific -- turns out I can't fight."
"So you're delivering water?" Johnny said, still unwinding from the soul shake.
"Yeah," Tua said, checking a box on his delivery clipboard, then winking: "Until XFL training camp starts in January."
"Solid," I said, giving Tua the 25-second version of the elaborate Samoan handshake, ending with the long-lost cousin embrace. Island soul, baby -- you can't beat the love.
"I've just got one piece of advice for you, brahs," Tua said. "Watch out for the new lady at the front desk -- she's tougher than a bamboo tree, brahs. That's why your water was late -- she was giving me the shakedown. Here she comes now."
A stern-looking woman strutted her way to the water cooler.
"Hey, I recognize you," I barked out. "You're that woman from the Palm Beach County elections commission. You're that Carol Roberts woman. You were cracking skulls around 11 p.m. PST on that live feed from Florida on Saturday night. You're like the nightmare substitute teacher! You were hilarious!"
"It wasn't funny, punk," she said, staring daggers. "It was serious business. I count for real. And as for you," she nodded to Tua, "you're just lucky I wasn't ringside, scoring that abomination. You'd never fight again on my scorecard."
"Yes, ma'am," Tua said, ducking out of sight.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, boys, I have to go call the BCS to straighten out the whole Miami-Florida State-Florida nonsense," she said. "By the time I'm done with them, we'll damn well know who's bucking for national champion -- and we don't need no stinkin' secretary of state to tell me otherwise."
A slumped man approached Carol Roberts with a polite: "'Scuse me, ma'am," and leaned into the cooler for some water.
I recognized the accent as straight outta Zimbabwe.
"Nick Price!" I said. "What are you doing?"
"Fetching my damn Precepts," he said, still bitter from No. 17 at Valderrama. He held the paper Dixie cups under the spigot. Plunk! Out came one pearl. Plunk! Out came another. Laden with penalty strokes, Price took his cup and bailed.
"'Scuse me, Nick," said an oncomer.
"You're all right, Tiger," Price said, moving on.
"Eldrick?" Johnny said. "You took the choke, too?"
Tiger's death stare froze Johnny. His paper cup under the spigot produced a Nike golf ball. The drink was rough for some of the world's finest this weekend -- including the red-clad warrior who will have to wait till 2001 to win 10 events in a season.
"You're on his Christmas card list, now," I teased Johnny, "right next to Tim Finchem."
Just then, the wee lefty Mike Weir approached. No balls in his drink. Just a steady championship and outstanding play, taking down the world-class field in the heat of a Sunday.
"O Canada!" I said, high-fiving the little guy.
"My home and native land," Weir winked, heading down the hallway.
Tiger, meanwhile, had bumped hard into Johnny, forcing some water spillage on Johnny's special Monday gamer.
"He's ruined it," Johnny whimpered, proud of his Sacramento State No. 32 jersey. "And why won't anybody give Charles Roberts any love? Dude broke the all-time NCAA rushing record, and what did he get -- a couple of paragraphs in a newspaper roundup?"
"I'm down with you," I said, hoisting my Dixie cup. "To Charles Roberts!"
"And to the Saints, and to the Ravens and to the Eagles, and to this Saturday's epic Oregon-Oregon State game," Johnny said. "It was a good weekend for the little man."
"Uh, dude," I said, pointing out the window to the 255-pound Samoan climbing behind the wheel of a water truck.
"Ah, he'll be all right," Johnny said, drying his Sac State jersey.
"He's got island soul, baby. You can't beat the love."
Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Examiner will find refreshment at the Monday Morning Water Cooler every week on Page 2.
|David Tua was left unsatisfied after losing a unanimous 12-round decision to Lennox Lewis on Saturday night.||