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Thirsting for Anna
Special to Page 2

Editor's Note: When we got to work today, we found another e-mail from that bartending, skateboarding buddy of ours in California. We decided to pass it along again. A word of warning: always wear a helmet.

Chapter Five
... in which our hero gets up close with Anna Kournikova.

Every competitor dreams about a mob of people shouting his name. But I never expected it to come true for me the way it did. Or to cause such a crisis.

It started a few weeks ago. My homey Puker and I visited the skateboard facility they'd finished building down on the beach in Venice. Puker had told me it was a joke.

And he was right.

By the time the lawyers and suits got finished slobbering all over their liability garbage, there was almost nothing vertical about it. It is a disgrace to civilization. You couldn't break a bone if you tried.

"There's only one thing to do -- take this to the limit," I told Puker.

"You've been watching too many Mickey Rooney movies," he said after I told him my plan, which was to go to the City Council and work out our own vert design and get them to give us a better site. "What we really should do," I told him, because I have a tendency to think big, which I'll never let anybody tell me is a bad thing, "is go all the way to the Halls of Congress."

I told Puker that if the Venice City Council didn't agree to give us a better skateboard park, then we'd organize "Skateboard for Freedom." We'd get as many athletes as we could. And we'd skateboard across the country raising money for every mile we went to combat Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Over the Rockies. Across the Great Plains. Under the arch in St. Louis. Or over it maybe. And right into Washington. And see if we could get Congress to build a skateboard park worthy of this country on the National Mall.

But all that was before Anna Kournikova walked into my life.

I was behind the bar at Lore's when the manager Stu Getzler told me a film crew had rented the place to shoot a commercial. They wanted a few employees to work in the background. I'd get a couple extra bucks. And every penny counts when you're battling CTS, I believe.

Anna Kournikova
"I get so very thirsty after a match."
I never expected who they'd be filming. There were wires running all over the place. And lights all lit up when the door opened and in walked Anna the K. herself. Seeing her for the first time in person your insides sort of lose control
-- like they wiped out at street luge. She was supposed to sit on a barstool while seven dancers in spangled tuxedos twirled up next to her and she looked into the camera and said, "I get so very thirsty after a match."

The problem was she had to look thirsty. And the director decided she couldn't look thirsty if she didn't look hot and parched. And she couldn't look hot and parched unless she had little beads of sweat on her cheeks and arms and legs and forehead.

Being the envelope-stretching dude I am, I volunteered for the job. Before each shot, I lay on my stomach, stretched on the floor, spraying Anna Kournikova's legs and arms with a plant mister. Me -- Wheeler -- wetting down the Babe of all Babes.

I figured this would give me a chance to ask Anna if she'd lend her support to the fight against Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.

But it was hard to find the right moment.

Anna kept practicing her line: "I get so very thirsty."

And I kept busy carefully spraying little drops of water on her limbs. Looking all the way up her long bronze legs that practically touch where her blond hair tumbles down. I know she was supposed to be the thirsty one. But after a while my mouth and throat got way dry.

Anna has 113 little hairs on the outside of her right leg below the knee.

As I was counting them and the director was yelling, "Cut, let's try it again," and Anna was saying with that pout of hers, "I get so very thirsty," over and over, my mind kind of wandered. I imagined Anna wearing my extra helmet and pads. We were both skateboarding. Which she's monumental at. It's just Anna Kournikova and me. Jumping cars. Nose grinds down railings. 360s. Then we board over to this little patch of grass where there's a shade tree. We lie down under it, next to our boards. I take off my helmet. She takes off hers. I take off my knee pads. She takes off hers. I take off --

Suddenly I heard someone shouting my name: "Wheeler! Wheeler!"

Puker and a bunch of my homeys were standing on the other side of the lights and the commercial director wasn't very happy about their interruption.

I went over to talk to Puker.

"Did you forget, dude?" he said. "We're marching on the Planning Commission. We're heading to City Hall in a torchlight boarding parade for the new skateboard park."

"Yo ... dude," I said.

I motioned back toward the set.

Anna was looking my way.

"Come and wet me some more, you Wheeler guy," she was saying.

I was faced with a choice between two extreme challenges. Puker hasn't talked to me in two weeks.

Murphy: Party time

Wheeler's X-Cellent Adventures: Chapter 4

Wheeler's X-Cellent Adventures: Chapter 3

Wheeler's X-Cellent Adventures: Chapter 2

Wheeler's X-Cellent Adventures: Chapter 1

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