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Sun-deviled 

In the summer heat, ASU mirages rise from the asphalt.


THIS IS TRULY MY SUMMER of discontent. My beloved Honda died a horrible death a few weeks ago and I've been too lazy--That's weird! This computer's acting up. I kept trying to type "b-u-s-y," but it always came out a different way--to go get another one. So I've been borrowing my daughter's car. The only problem is that Darlene's car is bright red and has animal-print seat covers. This motif makes me look more pathetic than a bald-headed dentist wearing disco chains and driving a Corvette convertible.

Darlene's taking a summer-school physics class at the university, so the other day while she was doing her lab work, I borrowed her car to go get a soda and read the paper. Darn it! That was supposed to say "run some errands."

Anyway, I'm driving along and I saw what could only be the final, untold prophecy of doom in the Book of Revelations. On my right was a 10- or 12-year-old boy, riding a bike and talking on a cell phone! Kid, do you realize that your scrotum will now remain empty for the rest of your worthless, yuppiefied life? No self-respecting testicle is going to want to drop into a position where it might help you reproduce someday.

I was so damaged by the sight that I blew off the soda (I mean, errands) and went back to get Darlene. When she finally came out of the physics building, she was walking with her lab partner, Heather.

As they neared the car, I realized that Heather was wearing a gold-colored shirt, which, in these parts, is a relatively minor faux pas. But then I saw that written on the shirt were the words "Arizona State University."

Not having been properly introduced to Heather and not wanting to do anything that might embarrass Darlene, I proceeded with as much restraint as I could muster. I jumped out of the bright red/animal-print car and screamed, "Are you out of your freakin' mind?!"

Darlene, as always, ignored me. But Heather said, "What's wrong?"

"You're wearing an ASU shirt!"

She casually replied, "Well, I go to ASU."

"Yeah, I voted for George McGovern, but you don't see me advertising it on a T-shirt."

She couldn't understand what the big deal was, so I tried to explain. I told her that if she had worn that back when I was at the UA, they would have snatched her bald-headed and left her on the street corner, singing Beach Boys songs.

She told me that she wore ASU stuff almost every day and nobody had ever said a word to her. I looked around and realized it was probably true. The UA campus during the summer is a different place. A few people take summer-school classes, but a lot of them are just doing so because they didn't want to fly back to Saudi Arabia or China for the summer.

A handful of professors wander the halls, doing their best to make it look like they're earning their research grant money. And of course, there are Lute's kids, hundreds and hundreds of little rodents who strut around the campus like they own the place, not realizing that Mom and Stepdad decided that the several-hundred-dollar babysitting fee charged by Olsen's hoop camp was worth it if it meant that the kid would be out of their hair for a week. (Oops, that was supposed to say, "would get an entire week of top-level basketball instruction.")

Later that day, I received a hot tip that part of the under-construction UA Student Union was being decorated in ASU's colors and that the architectural firm responsible for the sacrilege just happened to be from Phoenix! I was suddenly revitalized by the thought of writing about such a horrible scandal.

I realized that investigative journalism requires both investigation and journalism, but I plunged ahead, nevertheless. The rumors were all over campus and I figured that if I didn't jump on the story right away, the Daily Star would probably run it in six or seven weeks. I called all over the place and finally reached design-build project manager Chris Kraft. (Don't bother; he's heard all of them before.)

I told him what I had heard and he had a good laugh. "Here's what happened," he explained. "The architectural firm (MHTN Architects) was going with a nice Southwestern style and decided to use a color called cranberry red as an accent color. Some people saw it, decided it was too close to the ASU maroon, and mentioned it. We agreed and asked the firm to change it. It's now going to be tan and teal in those areas.

"Oh yes," he added, "the architectural firm, MHTN, is located in Salt Lake City."

Well heck, if they're from Salt Lake City, you'd figure they'd use white as the main color and off-white for accent. When he finished explaining, I felt like that scene in Blazing Saddles when Slim Pickens finishes that "blacker'n any Indian" speech with a sigh and "Ah am depressed."

But then I realized that the non-story was a good thing. There are still people around here who hate ASU for no good reason whatsoever, enough so that they'll take offense that cranberry red is in the spectral vicinity of maroon. (In most of the rumors I had heard, an entire room in the Student Union had been done in maroon and gold.) They hate ASU enough that they'll make up entirely false stuff about something as boring as a firm of architects from Utah. And the glorious ASU hatred is so pervasive that those in authority would go with teal-and-tan rather than risk charges of dereliction of décor.

As I was getting off the phone, Mr. Kraft said, "You [the Weekly] should come and write something about (our progress)."

I said that I would, thinking to myself that I'd dump it off on Margaret Regan. Darn this computer! That was supposed to say that I'd give Margaret a heads-up.

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