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Share the Warmth. Whatever That May Be.

According to the Super Bowl XXX Host Committee Information Hot Line, "Share the Warmth" is the "official slogan" for Super Bowl XXX. Yet, perhaps, it is even more ...

It is the dead of winter.
A small child wanders away from his family's campsite, unnoticed as the adults sit around the fire, basking in the primordial heat. A light snow begins to fall, flakes translucent through the glow of the full moon, entrancing the boy as he trundles farther and farther away from safety.

Then the snow grows heavier, but the child continues deeper into the forest. Time passes. Suddenly, he begins to realize he is cold. He turns around, but can no longer see the comforting beacon of the campsite fire licking into the night. He is scared, and he is tired. Panicked, the boy hikes aimlessly through the woods, but it is becoming harder and harder for his small legs to cut through the drifts.

Finally, his fear gives way to exhaustion, the boy's eyelids grow heavy, and he is barely conscious of lying down in the snow, falling asleep. Things in his body--important things--are having a tough time working against the relentless cold. The heart is slowing down, blood flow is at a minimum, the limbs are losing any sense of feeling as they succumb to the lethal deep freeze.

And then ...
There is a sound, almost imperceptible, hardly louder than the delicate brush of snow as it lands upon the trees. It is the scratch of a claw as it steps on a fallen branch. Steam from hot, regular, ragged breathing shoots into the cold and quickly dissipates. A huge, gray wolf stands over the small, nearly frozen figure of the child. The wolf is motionless, apart from a dollop of hot slobber that drips from its mouth, open just enough to expose a pair of canine fangs the size of roofing nails. The slobber falls onto the boy's face. His cheek twitches.

Then the wolf lies down, curling its massive, toasty bulk around the tiny body of the boy. The wolf stays there all night, the boy does not die of exposure, thanks to this animal. This animal that decided to share the warmth.

Leesa Pauly, unemployed, Phoenix: "I don't know anything about football, I don't know about the Super Bowl. But 'Share the Warmth' ... 'Share the Warmth' ... I don't know what that means. It doesn't come to me."

Jaclyn D'Ottavio, parking-lot attendant, Phoenix: "I have absolutely no idea what that could mean. It's definitely something to think about."

The battle is heated. An infantryman, his spirit nearly broken by the never-ending fight, the terrible conditions, the pure horror of war, rises just above the edge of the foxhole and fires his weapon. At what, at whom, he has no idea. Just points in the direction of where the bullets are coming toward him, pulls the trigger and throws a few back.

It's been like this forthe last seven hours. The sun has turned thefoxhole into a hellish sauna, he has been unable to advance, unable to retreat. He's seen his buddies wounded around him, but there's little he can do. It just goes on and on; the only constants are frustration and helplessness. But there is something else those two elements have bred in him: There is anger.

He leans his head against the parched dirt, sweat dripping from under the steel helmet rolling down his face. Some kind of missile explodes near him--too damn near him--and the ground shudders. He thinks to himself:

"If only those bastards would show their faces, I'd give 'em something to remember. All I want is a chance; I'd make things hot for 'em, and how ..."

And then ...
The relentless hammering of machine guns, grenades and ack-ack fire stops for a second. Maybe two or three seconds. The infantryman hears something much louder than artillery; he hears the sound of boots running at him. From the enemy side. Then this beaten-down soldier smiles darkly at fate, the mighty sap of vengeance coursing through his veins, and he stands straight up as some advancing enemy grunts get the surprise of their soon-to-be-radically shortened lives.

The infantryman levels his gun, unloads from the hip. "All right, you sons of bitches!! Time for daddy to share the warmth!!!"

Stacey Anderson, server, Coyote Springs Brewing Company and Cafe: "Well, I mean, Iguess it's 'Share the Warmth' of Phoenix, you know, the people are warm, come and feel the warmth and stuff. But everyone here is from somewhere else, so I don't really know how they'd feel warmth from here. I don't have a negative feeling about it, it's just a pain. You know what I mean?"

Danielle, desk attendant, Arizona Science Center: "I wish it was the weather, but it's getting a little cooler now. I guess it's hospitality. Or something."

Mohammad Mobaraz, who works at Hyatt Regency Phoenix and America West Arena: "'Share the Warmth'? I haven't seen it. I don't know what it would mean." Can you guess? "No."

The air in the dingy office in the dingy building on the dingy downtown street in New York City stank. Like cigars. Old, cheap cigars. Which mattered not to the two men in there, one sitting behind a desk, the other pacing back and forth. Both had those cheap cigars sticking out of their faces, belching out clouds of smoke the shape of crippled ghosts.

These men were songwriting hacks. They made their money--enough for rent, cheap cigars, and extra knackwurst and Russian dressing on Reubens for midnight lunches with gallons of coffee from the 24-hour deli downstairs--by ripping off hits of the day.

And the day was one in 1967, when a tune by international, sensitive, beatnik superstar Rod McKuen was making its way up the charts, a tune called "Listen to the Warm." This was a bossa nova ballad: typically McKuen, a poetically soft and fuzzy number with lyrics such as:

"With love, it's either famine or feast/You've got to learn to smile at least/And store up pleasures for that rainy day/When love goes away and then/Soft, LISTEN TO THE WARM ..."

This is the song these guys were trying to rip off, tossing out title ideas that would turn into a song that would be sorta kinda like Rod's, close enough to sucker the public but not get their asses sued.

The fat boy behind the desk spoke: "Christ, Morty. How hard can this one be? I mean, 'Listen to the Warm'--what the hell is that?"

Morty's turn. "I know, I know. Okay. How 'bout, 'Feel Me Warmly'? 'Everything Is Warm'? Uh, let's see ... 'Feel Everything Warm'?"

The fat boy: "Nah, it's gotta have some kinda implied love bullshit. You know, like couples could like it. It's gotta speak to the soul, fer chrissake, Morty."

And then ...
Morty stopped pacing, removed the cigar from his mouth, let the smoke rise thick and yellow.

"Wait a minute. Share the Warmth!"
The fat boy looked at him, grinned slowly, thinking of extra knackwurst. "I like it, Morty, I like it."

Debbie Skiff, driver for City Chauffeurs: "I don't know, unless they're talking about the temperature here." Are you into sharing the warmth? "They can come, there's more than enough."

Jeff, who rides a bike downtown and gives out tourist information: "I don't know. I wish it was 'Share the Wealth.'"

Ted Stiles, man on the street: "It means keep the strength coming together, that's more or less it. It's a share-team-spirit thing, keep the right attitude, that's what it's all about. As long as you keep the right attitude, you're going to win. It's just another way of saying it."

According to the Super Bowl XXX Host Committee Information Hot Line, "'Share the Warmth' is basically because we're warm here."

--Gilstrap


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