Fact is, if Mick O'Meara tried to swagger, if he tried to strut his stuff, walk like a big shot, you know, own the sidewalk, O'Meara would trip, fall down. And there would be Mike Mulas standing over him, laughing, smirking, saying something like, "I bet you're not going to try THAT again!" And then Mulas would fall to the ground, just so his buddy wouldn't feel alone down there.
Yes, they are something, this pair: Mulas, the dairyman, the firefighter and O'Meara the biology and chemistry high school teacher. Disparate occupations but a compelling preoccupation: Football. Mick and Mike joined at the hip by a football, 34 years on the Sonoma Valley High School sidelines together, 34 years in which they moved together in a greased groove, getting close without either of them ever realizing it. It just happened.
So when Mike's dad, Mitch, the legendary Sonoma dairyman, passed away on March 31, 2012, Mike asked three people to deliver a eulogy. One of them was O'Meara. The reason?
"Because he's a lot like us," Mulas said. Working with cows, on a farm, with sweat as your constant companion. All that tends to strip away pretentiousness, entitlement, attitude. In its place there is the honor of an honest day's work, work that produces something for the community and for Nilda Mulas — Mike's mom — that feeling of a shared existence doesn't stop at a barn.
So this Thanksgiving, just like so many others in Sonoma, Nilda will host Thanksgiving dinner.
"Whoever comes by is welcome," Mulas said. "We always seem to have new people every Thanksgiving."
As Mulas spoke Tuesday night, O'Meara looked at his friend the way one would look at a mirror. He saw the reflection and he saw himself.
"It was never about us," O'Meara said of the 34 years he has coached football with Mulas, 29 of them with O'Meara as head coach and Mulas as his defensive coordinator. "Whatever we did, we never intended for it to impress anyone."
So when I asked O'Meara if his coaching record — 174-135-6 — was accurate, the coach replied, "That's what they had in the (Sonoma) Index Tribune. So I guess it sounds about right. That's good enough."
That's good enough? Huh? Mick O'Meara and Mike Mulas coached their last football game last weekend and O'Meara gave the impression that he really didn't know his coaching record, that the 174-135-6 was a nice approximation. Sorta like 174 wins eight SCL titles happen to everyone.
"Those two guys are Sonoma football," said Joe Elwood, Analy's athletic director. "That they coached that long, that they were able to keep everything in perspective, it's remarkable. The lessons they taught their kids are invaluable."
Work hard, and get used to it, because you'll need to do the same thing as an adult. If you want to point a finger, point it at yourself. Success is labor-intensive; it's not waiting to get lucky through a lottery ticket. Mike learned all this stuff from Mitch and Nilda and in the fall of 1979, barely six months after he had graduated from Sonoma Valley, Mulas met this other junior varsity coach who had the same values. They slipped into their friendship smoothly to the point they can't remember when they started to click. They just did.