Feeling a little phat

Special to Page 2

Four days away from the office. Can I even find my way back to the water cooler?

Terrance Howard
Notre Dame reached a $13 million paydirt after its victory over USC.
Admittedly, I'm in a daze. Ever since I did a slow drop to the floor around 7:30 p.m. PT on Thanksgiving night, mercifully loosening the tyrannical belt, I had experienced only a few waking moments: The light sweat on the forehead that comes with overeating, and the tryptophan-induced hallucination that it was actually Pat Summerall who was stuffed and served on our Thanksgiving table.

What I need is a grounding experience. I need my boy Johnny.

Nine oh-one a.m. Like money in the bank. Here comes Johnny. With props.

Not only is my boy wearing his A-Rod gamer to work, but he's carrying two things: A satchel full of cash, and a clunky, 1960s-IBM prototype computer.

He set both by the cooler and took a long pull from the Sparkletts -- his mouth on the nozzel.

"J-Man, you ate well?" I asked, noticing he went with the sweatpants to work.

"Couldn't squeeze into the 38s with Crisco on my thighs," he said.

"Nice, dude," I said. "And A-Rod and Scott Boras made it to your crib for some turkey?"

"What, you think this dough here is a payoff from Boras to pimp A-Rod in the column?" Johnny said, indignant. "You forget, my man. I have deep connections to the Golden Dome. Got a sweet little cut from the big win over 'SC. They found it in their hearts to remember Johnny when the $13 million check came through. You know, after all I've done for them."

"Nothing like playing a college football game for the sake of the dear old alma mater," I said, high-fiving J-Man and getting $50 in return.

"And the computer?" I asked, pocketing the $50 and thinking about Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship.

"Kiped the BCS mainframe," Johnny said. "Late Sunday night, when those geeks with the NCAA were preoccupied, talking about voting booth fantasies with Katherine Harris."

I knew my man would come through. For a couple of years now, we had been ripping the BCS, wondering whatever happened to the beauty of The Big Four: the old Rose, Sugar, Cotton and Orange Bowls only on Jan. 1. Wondering whatever happened to Don Criqui live from Little Havana. To Keith Jackson in the French Quarter. To Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen in the Arroyo Seco. To Lindsey Nelson in the Big D. To four couch-inducing New Year's Day games that always produced a memorable national champion without some dude named Sagarin.

Now Johnny had stolen the BCS mainframe, an act of revolutionary beauty on par with the write-in campaign to cancel "The Michael Richards Show."

"You know what my man John Wooden would say about the BCS," I said. "Same thing he said about UCLA's mustard yellow jerseys Jim Harrick tried: 'There can be no progress without change, but not all change is progress.' "

"The Wizard: A Purdue man," Johnny said, raising the roof to the Boilermakers' stuff of Arizona on Saturday.

"Uh, J, nobody 'raises the roof' anymore, bro," I said. "But I will give maximum respect to any effort at taking down Lute Olson's boys. I can't think of a less likeable college coach."

"Right back at you, Irish," Johnny said, counting C-Notes on top of the cooler. "No self-respecting white man tries to front with the phrase 'maximum respect' like he's Wyclef Jean."

"Fair enough," I said. "Now, what's in that BCS computer? More nonsense about the Sooners?"

Johnny and I had long been proponents of the beauty of the W. In our poll -- posted in the men's room stall at work -- no No. 1 team loses votes, juice or rank because of a win. The object is to defeat the opponent, and when the Sooners posted No. 11 with a tight one over Oklahoma State, they lost no points in The Murph and Johnny Poll, which is somewhere in importance between that dude Sagarin and something out of Seattle.

"If Oklahoma loses any juice because of it, or if Miami gains because of a blowout, I'm holding this bad boy hostage for the princely ransom of one of Lindsey Nelson's old plaid blazers from the heyday of the Cotton Bowl," Johnny said.

"Yo, dude, Lindsey's gone to the Great Mike in the Sky," I said. "You're like Dr. Evil asking for one ... million ... dollars."

"Whatever it takes," Johnny said, placing his pinky on his lower lip, complete with the Oklahoma national championship ring Barry Switzer gave him one night mid-bender.

"Onward," I said. "You catch The Skins Game?"

"Was my boy playing?" Johnny said, resuming his count of the South Bend cash.

"I forgot: No Eldrick, no Johnny," I said. "You're Tim Finchem's best friend."

"Why would I want to see a Scotsman with a body like you slap it all over the desert?" Johnny reasoned. "Especially when I could spend my time watching my new boys: Aaron Brooks and D. McNabb tearing it up for the Saints and Eagles. And don't think I don't have that A. Brooks gamer on order. You'll see it next Monday."

"Until then, I get you in your A-Rod?"

"Hey, man, gotta support the greatest living player," Johnny said, tidying the Irish cash into a bundle. He headed off for his cubicle and another week under the flourescents, but first turned his head and winked: "Besides, dude, who do you think gets that office space Boras is asking for?"

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Examiner will find refreshment at the Monday Morning Water Cooler every week on Page 2.

hit the cooler 

Murphy: A rose is a rose ...

Murphy: All washed up

Murphy: Cooler heads prevail

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