‘Some ASU good-for-nothing skunks spray-painted ‘ASU’ on our beloved Wildcat statue!” Rusty rattled the morning newspaper over his empty cup. Hand on one hip and a coffee pot in the other, Rosa poured the roasted.
“I heard it’s an ASU program preparing seniors for future employment as paint-huffing graffiti artists.” Oh, snap.
At the Arroyo Cafe, scrambled eggs were on our plates and the Sun Devils were on our minds. Rosa asked me what I thought about the big game today. I turned to Rusty for his assessment. The old cowboy rolled his eyes and said: “Not much. There ain’t but one good thing to ever come out of Phoenix and that’s the Interstate.”
Lurleen, the Marlboro Queen, said she’d heard that one a million times before, coughed and ordered pancakes. “This is a good match, doll, a game you could lose big. Or win big.” Behind those cat’s-eye eyeglasses was a deep thinker.
“Their marching band had better know a funeral march ’cause that’s what the Sun Devils will be playing at halftime. Their wide receivers dropped more bombs this season than my granddad dropped during World War II.”
The old-timers sitting at the counter next to me were on a roll. Mentioning Arizona State University to this group is like throwing a wounded quail to a pack of Bobcats.
Rusty pushed his cowboy hat back off his brow and paraphrased his favorite life coach, Conan the Barbarian. “There is no greater pleasure in life than to crush Sun Devils, to see them driven before you.” He grinned. “And to hear the lamentation of their cheerleaders.”
Sanchez tapped his glass of orange juice with a spoon, signaling a speech.
“Amigos, today the Battle of Arizona will begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of civilization.”
Thumbs tugging at his suspenders he went on. “The whole fury and might of the Cats will very soon be turned on the Scum Devils. Let us bear down with such vigor that if the University of Arizona lasts for ten thousand years, men from Ajo to Tortolita will say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”
He scrambled Churchill while Rosa scrambled my eggs. Hold the blood, sweat and tears. I’ll take salsa on the side.
Rusty disagreed with Sanchez. Gen. Patton said it best. “No player ever won a game by dying for his school. He won it by making the other poor dumb player die for his school. We’re not just going to crush the Scum Devils, we’re going to rip out their ...”
Rosa held up her hand. Whoa. It’s just a game.
Just a game? Rusty wasn’t half done crushing those lousy Sun Huns by the bushel. He wrapped it up with, “All right, you sons of Wilbur. You know how I feel. I’d be proud to lead you wonderful Wildcats into battle any time, anywhere.”
We saluted him with our coffee cups.
I pointed out that their mascot is named Sparky in my best Seinfeld voice. “Sparky! What kind of name is that?”
“A lame one, vato.” Sanchez knew. “Apparently, ‘Skippy’ was already taken. Nice to know Elmer Fudd found work as a mascot wearing the worst devil costume ever made.”
Meet the scrawny new waitress. “Denise is a sophomore at the U of A.”
We all oohed. Denise nodded as she wiped crumbs off the counter. She asked us if we knew how to tell the difference between an ASU sorority girl and a rattlesnake. Well, you see, one is a cold-blooded venomous bottom feeder and the other’s a reptile.
Good one, Denise.
“Know the difference between a crisp one-dollar bill and the Scum Devils? No way you’re gonna get four quarters out of ASU. What’s the longest three years of an ASU student’s life?
Freshmen year. Get it?”
We’re giving Denise a good tip. Poor thing is driving to Phoenix for the game. She hates driving to Phoenix. Lurleen said she loves Tucson because Tucson sure as hell ain’t Phoenix. She says comparing Phoenix to Tucson is like comparing mayonnaise to salsa or Barry Manilow to Merle Haggard.
Sanchez quizzed us. “Can anyone tell me why the number 88 is significant?”
Lurleen patted her beehive hairdo. “Because it’s the collective IQ of their graduating class?”
“The average age of their cheerleading squad, after the oldest one retires.”
“It’s the number of years we’ve been fighting over the Territorial Cup. Since 1925. Back when Rusty got run out of Tombstone for stealing a Model T.”
Rusty shot back with, “Hey, what do ASU and the Dallas Cowboys have in common? They got no defense.”
Poke ’em with a trident. They’re toast.
Rusty was right. There is no greater pleasure in life than crushing Sun Devils and hearing the lamentation of their cheerleaders. Except maybe one more cup of joe.