The state bird of Arizona is a sweet little fowl called the cactus wren. We also have a state gemstone (turquoise), a state reptile (ridgenose rattlesnake), and I’m willing to bet we even have a state predatory arthropod, which would be that scorpion I killed under the Christmas tree yesterday.
Our state sport is not as well known, but it’s very popular. It’s called Weather Taunting, and Arizona is a perennial contender for the WTL (Weather Taunting League) championship.
What? You’ve never heard of the Willard Scott T-Cup? (The ‘T’ is for ‘temperature’!)
When my family first moved to Arizona from the East Coast, we were promptly registered with the Weather Taunting Commissioner and given ourjerseys emblazoned with the team logo (the motto “You Can’t Shovel Sunshine” on a field of blue sky). Of course, back then we didn’t have newfangled equipment like Facebook statuses and Instagram pictures of us golfing in our bathing suits in January. Back in the day it was considered big time when cordless phones let us hit the pro circuit and make those smug calls from the pool.
You already know how to run the classic Weather Diss gadget play: You call your relatives in Duluth on Christmas Day. You plan this call for about 1 p.m. CST, because your review of game tapes has informed you that Uncle Ed will be out clearing the driveway with his new snowblower right about then. Aunt Martha confirms this, and you marvel at the news that not only did the North Star State get 16 inches of White Christmas, the wind chill factor has made their holiday cheer feel like a balmy 24 below.
You see your opening, call a quarterback sneak and run for warm daylight when you casually holler at the kids to put their shoes on before they go outside to play. Before Aunt Martha has a chance to go for the blitz, drop back onto the deck and apologize for having to put the phone down so you can start the grill. Please note that the Weather Taunting Rules Committee has announced that tweeting selfies of you wearing cutoffs and a Santa hat and drinking margaritas constitutes “excessive celebration” and will cost you five degrees on the kickoff return.
If Aunt Martha’s got the sense God gave Chuck Noll, she’s going to anticipate with the pass rush and make a date to call you in July, when the average temperature in Phoenix runs about 106 degrees. This is a classic rookie mistake, so you run an actual flea flicker and remind her that, while the summer temperatures in Minnesota may not sear your eyeballs, Duluth does an excellent sauna imitation which provides excellent cover for those bomber squadrons disguised as mosquitoes.
Now you’re literally in the red zone because it’s 82 degrees in December which is a little toasty, even for Phoenix (they don’t call it a gridiron for nothing). You’re first and goal and as your O-linesets for the West Coast Offense, ready to score from your hammock, you pause to take a call from the office only to find out that you’ve been transferred to, you guessed it: Duluth.
Dude: the Commissioner is gonna want your jersey back.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.