Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Rose Bowl Spills Down Under

Needless to say, took this pic in Australia. We made the Aussie Open the anchor of a 2-week vacation that I will prattle on about at great length if you care to write me about it.
Never did find the Hook'Em guy in this picture.
But you know I couldn't run up a UT flag without throwing some USC-salute at it.
That same night, on our side of the stadium, I spotted a guy maybe 10 rows ahead of us.
Maroon tshirt, with yellow lettering on the back: “Tommy Does Miami.”

Well, there’s your Orange Bowl.

The night rolls along (I think this was a Lindsey Davenport match), and I get up to walk out for a break. So does USC guy. From the stairs above him, I give him a ‘V’ and “Fight On.”
He smiles and stops. He’s mid-to-late 40s, skinny in a nervous kind of way. Maybe a little jumpy. Kind of guy who, well, would wear a football t-shirt to a tennis match in Australia.
He waits for me at the exit: I say: “Hel-“
“I had cancer.”
He just says it. Just like that. Whammo. Which, I figured, bought him an extra turn talking.
“After that, I decided if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. Since then, I’ve been to three straight Australian Opens here, and every USC football game.”
Through my astonishment, I’m proud to report I managed to ask: “Home and away?”
“All of them.”
So I guess he wins.
By the way – no “Hi”, no “What’s your name?”, no “j’go’da SC?” nonsense. Apparently this guy does conversations-with-strangers like he does sporting events – no time to kill.
We’re walking now, down the steps, out of the tunnel. I go for it:
“What did you think of the Rose Bowl?”
He stops smiling. He shakes his head once. Then he shrugs and nods, like someone had just said something he agrees with.
“I’d rather watch the Rose Bowl 100 times than get radiation therapy.”
Fastball, fastball, curve – have a seat, rook. He’s been here before

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