My Kind of Town
Don Chapman

Friday, December 31, 2004

A Super Tuber Bowl

» The Tube

Gathered in the throne room of King Kavawai and Queen Tuberosa, where their highnesses reclined on E-Z-Boy loungers, To'o the seer said: "He has proved his devotion to the gods and to Kamehameha. He has proved his courage and strength by spearing the great mo'o. I recommend Kaneloa be considered as the princess' future husband."

"First," the lovely Princess Tuberosa La'a interjected, "I would like to see him dance hula and play the pahu."

"Yes, of course," said To'o. "Later. Have you forgotten that kickoff for the Tuber Bowl is coming up?"

"Thank you," the king said. He was a sports fan, and as important as his daughter's betrothment was, well, the Tuber Bowl was a big deal too.

The annual game matched the Royal Runners against the Tuber Border Patrol, and was a day of feasting, friends and a ball game. And this year even more excitement was attached to the contest, because a descendant of a man who had played in the Tuber Bowl years ago, and then went on to play Topside and stayed there, was coaching No. 3-ranked Auburn in the Sugar Bowl -- Tommy Tuberville. It made every Tuber proud, and was a reminder of the quality ball played among the subterranean 7-foot white Hawaiians.

To'o insisted that Kaneloa attend the game with him, a sign to scores of other young chiefs who journeyed to the Royal Rotunda to contend for the hand of the princess. While this was disappointing, they were still there for the big game, many for the first time. Plus, Tokelani, goddess of whoopee, would be arriving any day now, so they'd all get lucky.

To'o and Kaneloa sat at the opposite end of the royal box from the king, queen and princess, and as the Royal Runners sped to an early lead, Kaneloa and the princess exchanged fleeting sidelong glances, just enough to warm the heart and fill the head with wonder. The game got even better in the second half as the Border Patrol stormed back with an attacking defense, and held off a furious comeback attempt, winning 32-29. It was only then amid the cheering that the lovers allowed themselves more than a moment of eye contact and smiles of happy excitement.

As players on both sides exchanged ha and fans cheered, To'o whispered in Kaneloa's ear: "Are you ready to perform now? Not just for the princess and her family, but for all these people?"

"Now? Here?"

"If you perform as you did in your other tests, you will win the princess' hand, and all the people will remember that you earned the right to be king at the Tuber Bowl. An auspicious sign."

Kaneloa took a deep breath. The young chief from Oahu had come so far so fast. "Yes, I'm ready."

And then, whispering, "Help me again, Great King."

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at dchapman@midweek.com

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