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|BACK to Me and my Shadow supercar: Driver logs||An introduction to J. Staute and Shadowfast|
Until the story which belongs here is completed, the main feature of this page will be imagery from the story's timeframe. Actual artwork created either during or around that time (plus some newer bits to supplement it).
Some of the now decades old original art consists of cartoons created for the editorial page of my campus newspaper. Other images are basically doodles I did when I should have been studying. Please forgive the visual damages incurred by time and sloppy storage-keeping (this stuff's around 30 years old!)
As all this relates to my real-life supercar days too (and so certain details could prove troublesome for me if posted), I've blacked out or omitted some telltale bits in the pictures. Sorry!
For some backdrop to this tale, above is my fuzzy memory based artistic rendering of what my best friend Steve's 1970 Mustang loooked like during this period.
|To right is what my own Shadowfast looked like. He wasn't wholly complete during this time, but he was close to it.||
|To left is the type of auto Steve's girl Leann drove during this time: a Ford Pinto. I think it sported a light green and white paint scheme. We ran around in it a lot for gas conservation reasons, as it was a four-banger (Leann can be seen in a sketch below).|
Although I was pretty much oblivious to it the whole time I spent with Steve in my youth, that guy had a long term plan to change his life in extreme ways, and he was sticking to it.
Steve may have tried explaining his designs to me a few times, only to find me puzzled or disinterested by his long term schemes towards such ends.
Steve somehow knew and understood about networking even in his teens, as well as making his mark influence-wise in order to move up all the various ladders of life.
Steve had basically been born a hill billy like me. But so far as I can tell now his ultimate goal was to completely transform himself-- into a rich, jet-setting corporate executive playboy.
And damn if he didn't come darn close to that ideal! Ha, ha.
Decades later it turned out being an actual playboy longer than 20-25 years at a stretch is too exhausting. Even for mighty Steve. So after an airliner-like landing on a runway-- you know, where the wheels might make contact with the tarmac once or twice before they finally stay there-- Steve finally touched down and stayed grounded marriage-wise.
He never actually got rich (rich compared to me, yes; rich by strict definition, no). Maybe because he hadn't been born into that class, and like 99% of folks could never quite make up the shortfall connections-wise. But he sure lived rich. And traveled the globe. Some weeks he may have actually spent more time in the air than he did on the ground.
For quite a few years I personally thought all that traveling to be one reason Steve never got rich. For the far flung and exotic vacations to the Swiss Alps for skiing, and to various tropical islands for different recreations, were costly. Plus, his various domiciles seemed to get robbed since he was away so much, forcing him to replace lots of expensive material goods on occasion.
But all that would happen much later than the time frame covered by this story. In early college Steve was still climbing his ladders. Implementing his plans. Installing and spinning up all his 'wheels within wheels'.
And joining a certain fraternity in college was one of his milestones along the way.
Me, I'm not a joiner. Yes, joining in is essential for networking and schmoozing. But I couldn't stand networking and schmoozing. Besides perceiving it as agonizingly boring and demeaning, I also felt such behavior was frequently too fake and superficial for my tastes.
Yep. I definitely don't have what it takes to be rich and famous. Or a playboy either, for that matter (face it: schmoozing is required for robust dating practices, too).
Of course, some guys would ask what's left after you take all that off the table?
Good question! would be my response. Ouch!
But Steve's strategy of invading the social high life by way of channels like a frat was what got me pulled along a bit through there as well. Being his best friend and all. Plus, not being wholly without some usefulness to his plans, myself.
I guess I should mention here that I was never actually a member of this fraternity. Never even pledged. Steve and his brother Will did. But not me.
(Will wouldn't join us at Tech our first year, but our second; he being Steve's younger brother)
So how come I was allowed all the access to Steve's club described here if I never joined? Mostly because I'd helped his fraternity win a major greek organization contest on-campus, by creating a huge picture for them. I believe the contest consisted of somewhere between two and ten parts, with maybe the amount of money raised for charity being one. I can't recall exactly what all the others were, but somehow my big picture helped in one of the competitions.
I think I spent a couple weeks working on it before the unveiling and judging. We all of us (Steve, his girl Leann, me, and a few other campus pals) treated it like a big secret. Even surreptitiously sneaking it into the University Center in the dead of night before the day of the judging so the other contestants would get as little warning as possible about it.
Yeah, Steve was aware of the strategic advantage of minimizing the competition's chances for mounting a credible response.
Steve had persuaded me to do the pic in the first place, of course. Largely in order to leverage more influence and prestige for himself at the frat, most likely.
But it also worked to make me sort of an unofficial frat brother. Which to my mind was better than the official version. For actual newbie brothers had to endure various menial tasks at the house, as well as initiation rituals which I'm sure I would have refused. Maybe even punched somebody out over.
So I basically got many of the benefits without any of the hassles.
Yeah, something maybe as close to a free lunch as was possible in the greek system of those days.
I was the political cartoonist for our campus paper for a while. Steve probably set me up there too, I guess. Or greatly encouraged me in the matter. For surely I didn't initiate such a thing wholly on my own (I honestly can't remember the details now).
Anyway, I apparently maintained that gig for quite a while-- as today I have a surprising number of different 'toons clipped from editions I drew for.
Unfortunately, as the politics I spoofed were almost always of the highly local and immediate variety (on-campus issues of various sorts) I don't think today's decades newer internet visitors would find them particularly interesting. But in the interest of providing some evidence of the events related here, I provide some samples here and there on this page.
Indeed, it may be I only did one cartoon pointing to politics beyond our own small campus. And that one proved to be my last.
Why? Well, the paper's editor censored it.
Looking back on it now, I think she may have been ethnically related to a group she felt was unfairly treated in the cartoon-- despite my reference probably not even being recognized by most students.
In hindsight she was probably correct in censoring it. For I was basically reflecting the political leanings of my often-not-fully-informed self and peers with the piece.
Basically the editor had asked me to do a caricature of campus vandals-- or maybe we'd discussed it together and come up with the idea.
So I created this ugly freak of a thing outfitted like a vandalism commando, in the middle of a diagram explaining his heinous equipment and what he did with it.
He had an ammo belt or something like it running across his chest, with a T-shirt underneath. And on that T-shirt I'd put hints of a three letter designation which to me represented terrorism at the time.
The acronym wasn't fully visible-- but could be recognized by someone keeping up on current world events I believe.
Basically I'd created imagery the President of the United States (or other top ranking officials at that time) might have liked.
The editor though used white out on the semi-hidden reference before the paper went to print. Without telling me she did it.
Like I say, I know much more about the world now than I did then. So I wish I hadn't caused her that problem.
I can't even recall her name now, but she may have had something of a Middle-eastern lineage, like being from Lebanon or something, and was quite an attractive and smart lady. I liked her quite a bit before the censorship.
If she ever sees this on the net and recognizes me from this description of events, I want her to know I apologize. I shouldn't have done what I did. Before or after the cartoon went to print.
For you see, I got angry at my artwork being tampered with. Especially when (in my state of blind acceptance of what my leaders told me) I felt somewhat righteous in my veiled reference.
Plus, I wasn't getting paid for the cartooning. You have to be careful about pissing off voluntary workers like that.
My memory's spotty on those events so many years past now. But I think I was incensed by the censorship, and confronted the editor over it pretty soon after the issue came out.
Either she didn't explain herself well, or (more likely) I was just too self-righteous and pig-headed to really listen to her. So what she said didn't quell my anger-- although maybe she thought it did at the time. For came next week (or whatever the schedule was), and she was expecting another cartoon as usual. Only she didn't get it. I purposely didn't submit one, and didn't warn her beforehand of my intent, in order to cause her as much trouble as possible.
Like I say, I wish now I hadn't done that to her. But I did. I believe only days after that we saw each other again at one of the big campus parties described on this page-- standing only maybe 12-15 feet from one another. She gave me plenty of serious looks there, and I gave them right back. At the time I had grandiose thoughts of what she must have thought of me standing up for my principles like that-- but in reality she was probably thinking "what a jerk!" Ha, ha.
I'll say it again: sorry lady! If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't leave you in a lurch like that, or done that particular thing you felt you had to censor. No, I would have tried my best to make entirely different mistakes than those! Ha, ha!
If she ever comes across my web site, and sees the content I have today somewhat relating to the issues her censorship back then concerned, I believe she'd feel better about the whole thing: like maybe I finally learned something after all.
Ahhh! Even after decades, the cartoon above still applies; for college textbook costs are out of this world!
Above was depicted the widespread dissatisfaction with changes the college had made in registration procedures compared to the previous quarter.
Again, the comic is displaying student body angst over administrative changes. This time regarding a new or larger fee for parking stickers, which didn't help you park any closer to the the buildings you needed to attend.
Yes: the womens' dorm parking lots did resemble the cratered face of the Moon (though I did exaggerate it a bit (that was my job!)).
All right: this one's a bit harder to decipher, as I forget the details. But I think it had something to do with representatives of the fraternities and sororities on campus being denied their own representation in some sort of student governing board.
The women's dorms were for women only back then (not coed, like many are today). With some fairly strict rules on visitation by men. EXCEPT for the daily presence of male janitors in the hallways and bathrooms. Please note that dozens of students in the dorms had to share the same bathrooms/showers at the ends of their respective halls. Combine this with the many gorgeous women who populated this Tennessee college, and this particular clean up duty could have been considered a great side-benefit of the job for men. The female students however weren't exactly crazy about it.
A trio of mind-boggling parties
Although there was probably at minimum two or three good-sized parties a week at the Sigma Chi house on campus (they actually had two complete houses, one located just behind the other) during my first year at Tech-- and dozens of smaller, more private ones-- I personally attended only a handful that whole year. For I wasn't a terribly social person. Heck: often it was downright impossible to get me to 'loosen up', as some might put it.
Of course, I wanted to experience fun and avoid studying as much as anyone else: I just wasn't very good at such pursuits.
Anyway, of that handful of parties I did attend, three stand out as especially impressive in the mayhem they wrought, or memories left behind.
(Although I have zero photographic evidence today of the college partying I describe below, the pics of this Florida-LSU party and college girls having way too much to drink strongly resemble some of my own college memories)
Above is an aerial view of the college campus Steve and I attended in the 1970s
The food of the gods party
The most spectacular and hedonistic spectacle was a sort of combination costume party and surprise party.
It wasn't your conventional costume themed event though. For there were no rules and no unacceptable costume themes. This made for some pretty wild stuff being on display at the event. Like some women made up like awfully cute humanoid cats. I'm talking whiskers and cat mouth and nose and cat ears. And tails. At least one of those girls wore only a string bikini in terms of clothing. Some of the make up jobs involved in the cat thing looked good enough to belong in a Hollywood film.
I think there were some people there with major chunks of their clothing just painted on, too. I.e., naked or partially so, under the coloring.
I'm not entirely certain on this point though, because I tried to keep my distance from the possibly near-naked men-- and couldn't get close to the practically naked women, because of all the attention they attracted from others like me.
And those were by no means the wildest costumes or characters to be seen there. So the tableau didn't seem too far from resembling an event you'd expect to see on an alien planet. Some of the behavior rated that as well.
As for me, I wasn't wearing a costume. Just regular street clothes. For that was OK too. The students who took the costume thing the most seriously seemed to be the women, and those among the men who were older or more experienced with stuff like this, compared to a freshman like me.
As for the surprise part-- the surprise was on everyone there. For apparently in addition to the usual generous servings of alcohol, something else was added to much of the food and drinks available. A mystery ingredient. I believe lots of folks there like myself weren't aware of this factor until much later. Anyway, that stuff seemed to cause the whole thing to spin wildly out of control.
Fortunately the organizers had scheduled the party on the same night that not only the campus but the entire surrounding city would be hopping in various ways, thus hopefully maximizing the time required for the authorities to be specifically called in here.
I never in my life saw so many people at once going so wild as I did that night. There seemed to be a complete and total loss of inhibitions, after a certain point. Fortunately though everyone was happy crazy, rather than angry or depressed crazy. Almost every time I turned around or changed locations I was confronted with a new and (to me anyway) shocking tableau.
Here's just a small sampling of things I witnessed around the peak of the chaos:
Item: In the spacious and wildly varied terrain of the yard which separated the two frat houses, men and women in their underwear laughing uncontrollably as they skidded on their asses and backs down a steep muddy channel into a small, shallow mud pond at bottom. A few of course discarded even their underwear. Nobody cared. Of course, with all the mud coatings, people tended to look better covered than they would have in swimsuits on a public beach.
One guy I knew fairly well got so ripped he was just turning somersaults over and over again in his own little mud hole to entertain a few other people standing within feet of him watching. He was fully clothed, but out of his freaking mind. And happy as he could be. I'm sure he kept flipping over in that mud hole for at least five or ten minutes. And he was still going strong when I turned my attention to other matters.
It makes me laugh even today to think about him.
Whatever the mystery ingredient was, it made you incredibly happy and generous and friendly with everyone around you.
Many circles of folks laughed near uncontrollably for quite some time, sometimes breaking into tears from the intensity of their glee. I listened in for a moment or two on a couple different groups like this to see what was so funny, and never did find out. Either the jokes went right over my head, or I'd already missed something important to the hilarity before I came upon them.
Girls randomly kissed guys. And passionately, too! I was the recipient of several of these myself. The girls were all complete strangers to me.
In the weeks to follow though I'd learn some of the so-called girls at the shindig may have been men disguised as girls. YUCK! Technically that was allowed, being as how it was a costume party for any willing to dress up so.
I don't think any of the girls who kissed me were really guys-- but just the remote possibility of it sickened and alarmed me when I learned of it afterwards.
Plus, so far as I could tell there were very, very few truly homosexual men on campus while I was there. So that notion comforts me in regards to the recall of these events.
Don't get me wrong: I care not a bit about someone else's personal sexual preferences. But I myself prefer girls. Exclusively. And would likely punch a guy who kissed me while posing as a girl, if I found out about it. Just instinctively!
In general though I wouldn't mind if all the guys in the world but me turned gay-- for in theory that'd present a really nice and lopsided supply-demand curve for me personally to enjoy. Billions of heterosexual women looking for a single heterosexual man...with me their only choice. Yeah, such overwhelming numbers would surely kill me quick-- but I think I'd die happy!
I'm not sure what happened in the case that a given random man-woman couple decided to go further than making out at the main party. But I did know it wasn't unusual at regular parties for frat members to take women upstairs or off the grounds entirely for such things.
Me, I was feeling so strange and happy from whatever was in the food and drink-- plus so inexperienced and hesitant regarding such out-of-control behavior-- that I was content just to watch that night.
I also knew almost no one there. Steve and what few other people I knew had disappeared very soon after I arrived, leaving me on my own (and recall that guy turning flips in the mud puddle was busy with his own little piece of heaven).
Yeah, if I'd been older, or more experienced, or had a sufficiently enticing invitation from a woman there, I would likely have done more. But none of those were the case.
I was repeatedly amazed by the apparent fun to be had by all at the event.
Inside the house, shirts and skirts and pants began missing here and there, from those who'd originally shown up with them. Men and women danced on tables. Falls were commonplace. But no one seemed to get seriously injured.
Several true strip-teases took place. Involving girls pretty enough that you wanted to be in more than one place at once to watch them (alas, the events were too spread out to watch one without missing another).
But-- to my personal knowledge-- no women actually went completely bottomless in public inside the houses (except possibly for those sporting painted-on clothing, or an accident here or there).
The whole attitude by everyone there seemed more like kids just having fun rather than any serious debauchery taking place. Much like the sense conveyed by those popular beach party movies of the sixties.
I mean, the normal inhibitions and constraints just seemed to be absent or non-existent.
I thought I was hallucinating when a curious little old lady appeared out of nowhere inside the house. A frat brother quickly escorted her to somewhere else I think.
In one of the houses a suds room was running. I'm not talking beer-- although kegs were plentiful. I'm talking soap suds. A room full of soap suds-- or foam, drenching the clothes of everyone inside. People were trying to dance in there. Or something. I couldn't figure out how they were keeping their footing on slick floors, until I learned the floors were covered by soft gym mattresses or something similar. But those presented their own footing problems, I thought.
I never entered the suds room, as I didn't want to get drenched as I saw happening to others in there.
Early on in this party I spent a small bit of time in several different upstairs rooms-- maybe of both houses-- with different frat factions. One of these had included Steve, the frat President, and the President's girlfriend.
There were a few others present too I think, but I can't recall their identities now.
I think the President's girlfriend was the only female there at the time.
The frat president of that time commonly went by the moniker "Prez".
That little get-together didn't last long at all. I can't recall what we spoke about. But it did seem Steve was getting awfully chummy with the Prez's girlfriend. And the Prez didn't seem to mind.
All of the sudden everyone was spurred to go their separate ways for some reason, including me. But the last I saw of Steve he was still with the Prez and his girlfriend.
The President's girlfriend's name was Diana. And she bore more than a passing resemblance to what you might expect of the Roman goddess of the same name: she was a dazzling and statuesque blonde.
I'd accidentally gotten to sit close up alongside Diana in the small room while there, and can tell you she was one awfully attractive woman. Long blonde hair, blue eyes, and tall.
Diana in some ways was similar to Sue Anne in looks-- only Diana's facial features were a little more sharply sculptured than Sue Anne's, making Diana look more like someone you'd expect to see on television or in films of that era.
But Diana's personality was even more appealing than her looks. For she was one of those women who seemed unusually warm and welcoming in attitude-- even to a total stranger like me.
She seemed smart too, from what little of her conversation I got to sample. Which of course simply ratcheted up her attractiveness still more.
But that was all I got to see of her that night. Before most of us got sent away.
Although he never said anything about it-- and I never asked-- I always suspected that Steve and Diana and the Prez had a little party of their own that night. Because I never saw any of them again after that, that evening. And what I did hear about happening to Steve by the next morning certainly implied some wild times were had by him with someone during those hours.
I think Diana was lusted after by virtually every brother in the frat. And Steve seemed very well liked by both Diana and the Prez at that time. And heck: these frat folks were downright wild! Steve too, I knew from past history.
So although I don't know for sure that anything happened there, I always sort of envied Steve on the mere possibility! Ha, ha!
And yes, Steve did have an official girlfriend of his own at that time. A very nice, very cute young lady in her own right, whom I liked as well. But I don't think she attended this particular party. Her name was Leann.
Leann managed to keep Steve on the hook for longer than just about any other single woman I was ever witness to in those days. Most everyone familiar with Steve and Leann figured they'd eventually get married. And somehow Leann managed to survive and thrive even as a practically full-fledged member of Steve's inner circle, for an unbelievable length of time.
What I mean by this is that Leann accompanied Steve and me and others on some of the scariest adventures you can imagine putting a girlfriend through. Journey to the center of the Earth? Sure! Leann was up for it! Car race to the death? Yeah! No problem! Scaling treacherous cliffs above a freezing cold river? That was right up her alley! Camping and hiking trips into hellish barrens? Leann was ready!
Heck: thinking back on that now sort of surprises me in regard to Leann. I mean, I liked her a lot myself-- maybe even to the point of harboring a small crush on her too for a while. But when I think back to all the stuff she did right along-side us...man! It's practically unbelievable!
In hindsight, maybe Leann was more adventuresome and willing to push the edge of the envelope than Steve himself! Wow!
It's funny. I never got the impression Leann was stark raving mad at the time. But how else can you explain a girl willing to stand toe-to-toe like that with Steve in such hair-raising adventures?
Sheesh! Even I didn't dare accompany Steve on some of his treks! So Leann might actually have been on more of them than me!
For some reason much of this side of Leann never occurred to me back then. I mean, I had a high opinion of her. I just never contemplated her penchant for risk and danger like that at the time. I guess because me and Will and others were doing pretty much the same thing. It was all what we considered normal behavior back then.
I think Leann was studying to be a teacher. So maybe that's what she is now. Wow! I bet she's some teacher!
I think even the fraternity itself got worn out by that party-to-end-all-parties. Because I believe there was a very unusual pseudo-moratorium on parties after that for maybe a week or two.
Even when the main party began winding down due to mounting pressure from certain neighbor and law elements, many of the guests simply left the premises to continue the celebration elsewhere with a smaller and more select group.
At some point I realized I badly needed to leave and get back to my dorm. I was exhausted as well as buzzed out of my mind.
I didn't think I'd drunk all that much at the party. But figured maybe the drinks had been stronger than I was accustomed to, in terms of hard liquor. Or maybe I should have eaten something, I mused.
For some reason I'd driven Shadow to the frat house, which was only a couple blocks from my dorm.
But getting back would turn out to be maybe the toughest two suburban blocks I'd ever driven, up to that time in my life.
I really shouldn't have been driving at all. But this was a wholly new experience for me. So I wasn't prepared to handle it properly.
Plus, I think at the time I was unsure I could make it back on foot. Yikes! Yeah, if I couldn't make it on foot I certainly shouldn't have been driving! But as I said, my judgment was impaired, and I unaccustomed to being in that sort of situation. In addition to that, I'd had no warning I was going to get doused with that extra happy mystery ingredient at the shindig. It was also true that I'd been left to my own devices by everyone I knew in the place, hours before.
I did understand I was plenty impaired. But not until I actually got my car moving did I comprehend my true predicament.
I was barely in this world!
I had to concentrate with incredible fierceness to pilot Shadow at a baby crawl of maybe 10 to 15 mph through a few thankfully quiet intersections, and finally into the dorm parking lot.
That extremely short trip was so mind-boggling to me at the time that I'd still possess some vivid memories of it even roughly 30 years later.
For it'd required enormous effort on my part. I was scared to death I'd run over someone or hit something.
It was frightening enough even through the big-time drugged happiness that I resolved to be more careful about what I imbibed after that. And most certainly not take my car to such events so near my dorm(!) Heck: it'd be better to crawl back on hands and knees, than drive in that state!
What was the mystery ingredient possibly used at the party? I eventually learned of a secret, nearly impossible to get concoction known to the frat, which went by many different names, like the fun stuff, love potion, joy juice, etc., etc. Eventually I actually got to see some in real life.
It was a clear liquid. And it was kept in teeny, tiny bottles.
But everyone denied it'd been used at that party. Claimed the potion was reserved only for much rarer and more important events.
Sometime later Steve would actually come into possession of his own bottle of the stuff, and we'd test it on ourselves and others.
And I must say that that stuff was potent! Unbelievably so! I would think it'd be mighty addictive too, if users could ever get it on a regular basis.
Apparently it got its name "love potion" from the seeming fact that any man or woman could dose their preferred partner with it, and that partner would be utterly devoted to them for several hours afterwards. And no: it didn't knock people out. It just made them extremely happy and affectionate towards everyone around them.
It seemed to be the hippy's free love of the 1960s, in bottled form. Wow!
But in my experience the stuff was awfully hard to come by. There was some talk the Prez's source was somehow related to NASA in Houston Texas. But to my knowledge nobody ever managed to prove it.
And the stuff wasn't for sale. I witnessed people begging to pay outrageous amounts for it, and still be unable to get any.
But as for the potion's use at that party, to this day I don't know for sure that it was.
Heck: I suppose it's possible there was no mystery ingredient at all, but just a random mix of different sorts of alcohol or whatever. And Steve maybe just stoked my suspicions later with his usual hyperbole. And there's always the psychological aspect to it all. I could have gotten some of my altered state of mind simply from the bizarre and wild events I witnessed there-- helping me believe there had to be especially strong stuff at work among us. For there were a few other times I personally witnessed people go pretty wild on stuff I knew for a fact to be nothing out of the ordinary. Indeed, that'd been a prank Steve and I had played on some in earlier instances: giving folks something totally innocuous but pretending like it was some sort of high-powered substance, just to see how they'd react. It was hilarious to watch people think themselves drunk or high, when there was in truth nothing like that around! Ha, ha!
For just believing that you're high or drunk can have a surprisingly big effect on a person-- even if no true drugs or alcohol are actually present at the time.
And we're all heavily affected by the behavior of those around us, too. If we're surrounded by people drinking the same stuff we are, and they speak and act like it's doing something to them, we'll usually start feeling and acting like it is to us, too.
Basically I'm talking the placebo effect here, only with party favors.
In theory you could have a party run wild simply due to the participants expecting it to-- with no mind-altering substances present at all.
Amazingly enough, no one seemed to get seriously hurt or ill in any way related to the big party. Not even a stomach ache from overeating, as sometimes happened from pot smoking. Or vomiting as frequently occurs with over-drinking. Or at least I never heard of anything in the weeks which followed.
Quite a few funny stories came out of it though. As some party-goers woke up the next morning in strange places, often with little or no clothing! Ha, ha. Steve was one of those with such a story. But I'll leave that to him to perhaps write up someday.
The mother of all panty raids
The second most memorable party was one I didn't even go to: for it came to me. Or to everybody on campus, that is. As agents of the frat and others fanned out to spread the word about something special happening at one of the women's dorms at the opposite end of the campus from where we men lived.
The distance involved was only something like a city block or two: so it was easy walking distance.
It seemed every student living on or near campus rushed to the event almost instantaneously.
As the nexus of it all (one of the womens' dorms) was only maybe 50 yards from the University Center and right next door to the combination student-run radio station and headquarters for campus security, the university chiefs learned about it pretty darn quickly too. But they couldn't figure out what to do in response for at least an hour or two. At which point they made some pretty rough threats about simply having the police check student ID cards so everyone not dispersing immediately could be summarily expelled. It was something like that.
I'd end up working for campus security later when I returned to school after a break. But at this time I had no connection to them whatsoever. Steve however did serve a brief stint as a radio disc jockey in the same building there. It may be he lost his job due to this particular night, by broadcasting to the whole campus what was happening in realtime just next-door. At least until campus security stormed upstairs and pulled the plug on him. But by then it was already too late.
Somehow the crowd of mostly men blocking the streets managed to persuade various women in the dorms to put on bed-jumping strip tease acts via their honking big dorm windows.
At least some of the girls seemed to like all the attention from outside.
The windows were pretty large in the dorms. Like maybe five feet tall by three or four feet wide. So spectators could get a pretty good view of a girl jumping up and down on her bed with all her lights on, as she removed various items of clothing.
I personally was amazed at the sight, having never seen women brazenly strip for an audience in real life before. I was also astonished by how long it went on, and how more and more dorm girls began getting into the act, as they realized the huge and growing audience they had just outside. That particular wall of the girls' dorm soon became a cornucopia of strip-tease shows for the male mob outside, with different girls competing to elicit the loudest sounds of approval from the men watching.
Small groups of men also conducted raids into the women's dorm during all this, waving trophies of panties in the air upon their return.
But panties were also raining down from the dorm windows themselves from some of the residents. A few other items like bras and nighties also fell upon us.
And we men loved it!
Campus security ended up having to call in help from the city and county police too I think, to quell the uprising.
There ended up being so many cars flashing blue lights in the vicinity that anyone from my hometown might have suspected me and Shadow to have been up to something there! Ha, ha!
The authorities weren't wholly successful in their efforts. Near the end maybe half a dozen girls emerged from the building dressed in little more than their nightwear or underwear it seemed, to leave with some of the guys from the crowd. I have no idea what happened to them after that: I wasn't anywhere near the bunch when they left the scene (the place was packed!). But the crowd as a whole cheered the girls like they were Moon-shot astronauts. Of course the crowd was cheering at lots of things throughout the whole event.
To be perfectly honest though, I think at least one or two girls might have gotten into really big trouble over the matter. Specifically, either the very first to start stripping in front of her window, and/or maybe the one who most impressed the crowd with her impromptu show.
I don't know if those girls were among those who left the building near the end. A naked smiling girl jumping on a bed in a brightly lit second or third story window can look surprisingly different clothed and walking along a dark sidewalk outside, amidst a throng of appreciative men.
Above is some of my doodling from back then. Here, me and my friend Steve are standing on the Moon, near to where the first Moon walk occurred. That's me on the left, wearing an Army jacket.
Another doodle. This one of me and my friend Steve and his hot girlfriend of the time, who I call "Leann" in the stories. If I recall correctly, she was studying to become a beautiful school teacher (she already had the 'beautiful' part nailed).
Above is yet another doodle from those days. Here, Steve and I are engaged in a firefight with aliens on some planetoid somewhere. That's Steve in the foreground, posing for the picture as I shoot at the attackers (I was the side-kick, after all).
Party at the log cabin lodge
The third most memorable party was a weekender: one where a bunch of us rented a large two story cabin in the mountains in which to drink and make merry. It was during that little gathering (to which I drove Shadowfast) that Steve's frat brothers really took notice of my machine for the first time. Its roll cage, full-on blacked-out stealth appearance, racing air dam and rear spoiler, and so on and so forth. But more on that later.
(Note that this cabin and camping area were a completely different and much less isolated locale from those I'd visit months later, in Breaking up.)
The place was spacious, and well-appointed. We did have to bring our own food and drink, etc., but that was to be expected.
Steve was there. Along with quite a few of his fraternity brothers. I truly cannot recall the full roster now. But it wasn't a huge group by any means. Somewhere between six and eight participants total, I think.
I'm pretty sure I was the only non-Sigma Chi member present.
Those on the scene were all so different from one another-- plus pursued different types of mind alteration-- that it made for a strange couple of days indeed.
Everyone seemed to have their own agendas for the event. Some seemed bent on recruiting or indoctrinating others into fraternity dogma-- or else simply practicing the exercise for its own sake.
Still others were there simply in the hope of a good time. While others (like Steve I guess) were out to bolster alliances and to network in general.
All sorts of stories and lively debates were spawned by the circumstances. I can remember almost none of them now, decades later. But I think they ranged from certain themes in philosophy, to the mysteries of women, to the true foundations of civilization and humanity.
Along with plenty of dirty jokes and questionable personal stories thrown in for good measure, of course.
We ate a lot too along the way. But if I recall correctly some of the items we had to prepare in various ways didn't end up being particularly tasty. Of course a drunk or high frat brother probably doesn't make for the best cook around (or the safest; yikes!)
I'm pretty sure we had no women with us at this particular celebration. But my memory's fuzzy on that point for a variety of reasons. Partly due to me attending other events in and around this general area with other groups, at other times (it was something like a high end cabin camp in a national park, which included lots of lake boating and woods hiking opportunities as well). And my recollection is likely hazy too due to the mind-altering substances present at this particular assembly.
Hey! keep in mind some of the participants to these things would have no memory whatsoever after the event! So I think I did pretty well, considering.
This weekend shindig was probably the closest I ever came to getting the full-fledged experience of being a Sigma Chi fraternity brother.
Well, I won't bore you with further details of the partying itself. For to me the race which developed afterwards from the event was far more memorable.
As I said before, the frat guys had never really seen Shadow up close before now. And those of the brothers who were car aficionados could recognize the serious modifications performed on the machine.
It was at that point a major hot rod discussion ignited. I tried to include Steve in it as well, but for reasons I didn't understand at the time he repeatedly downplayed his own car enthusiasm and history.
In hindsight I guess he was subtly trying to help me retain the spotlight there.
These frat guys were much closer to me in hot rodding terms than most of my peers in my hometown. For back there, brute straight-line horsepower and absolute top end were considered the end all and be all of street racing. I enjoyed more kindred spirits among the few actual professional race car builders around my hometown, of which half were the NASCAR variety rather than drag strip. But circumstances typically had me in the company of the non-pro street and drag racers ten times more often than the NASCAR guys.
Here though, the frat brothers were many of them fans of European slalom and lemans type racing: much more like what I aspired to with Shadow.
I quickly found out the brothers were rich too. Or at least had lots more money than me. It seemed to turn out I only qualified for their auto circle due to the massive, unusual, and well thought out mods I'd made to Shadow. If he'd still been a standard 1969 Mustang they likely would have snubbed me hot rod wise.
So I now knew a little more about why Steve had stayed out of it. This bunch had a sort of rarefied air about them where racing was concerned. Steve's shallower funny car dragster simulation with his 1970 Mustang (the Green Machine)-- which might actually have rated higher than Shadow in my hometown due to its nice metallic paint job-- actually rated lower here.
Of course, a bunch of racers can't long avoid setting up some action. After all, everyone must know where they rank skill and car-wise. ASAP. At least wherever there's sufficient uncertainty in the matter.
And to the frat guys, Shadowfast was one big black question mark.
Maybe not unexpectedly, their knowledge that I was the artist behind their contest-winning painting-- plus my less than impressive physical stature and immediate presence (or charisma)-- seemed to give some of them the impression Shadow and I didn't quite fit together. It was like they suspected I was lying when I said I'd designed and built him myself. Or maybe that I gave too little credit to my dad regarding the transformation process. But they couldn't deny I knew a lot about high performance suspensions and aerodynamics and high speed driving techniques, and had very plausible stories to tell about my past experiences with the car. And Steve was able to vouch for some of my tales, too. Being as how he'd often been both witness and participant.
I guess my typically laid back attitude around them (as compared to Steve) also made them wonder if I truly possessed an aggressive side, such as Shadow's existence suggested.
Yeah, I know. I could have settled the aggression question mark easily by simply telling them about Shadow's secret anti-pursuit weapons. Or showed them the actual gear where it was semi-hidden underneath the car.
But when you've really got such stuff you can't afford to advertise it. Especially not in circumstances like those.
Steve and I also didn't dare relate some of our more extreme adventures to his greek brothers. There were simply too many risks involved.
So the brothers decided to resolve their questions in another manner.
We'd have a race!
No, we didn't race at the cabin lodge. Or the week after. We simply set into motion the planning and arrangements for such a race to take place in weeks to come.
Of course, the delay gave time for word to spread, and soon more brothers wanted to join in.
In the end, many were not allowed to participate simply because their cars were judged unworthy (not up to the task). Or the brothers themselves too inexperienced or reckless.
In one case though a brother himself deemed too green would loan his otherwise qualifying car to a more experienced fellow to drive.
It turned out the frat brothers often held small one-on-one races amongst themselves. But somebody told me it'd been years since such a large scale contest as this had been seriously contemplated.
I wondered around then if this thing was getting a little out of hand.
I'd been scaling back on my voluntary racing for a while now. But in college I often ached for a break from the routine. I also had no girlfriend to brighten my days. So I figured I'd go along with the frat's games so long as they didn't get too wild.
I also hoped that maybe the race would bring me more attention from some of the gorgeous sorority girls which hung around the frat.
Road trip hell
This part of my tale is a little out of synch chronology-wise, as it happened between the panty raid and the log cabin lodge party. And so maybe a whole month or two before the race to Houston. I just preferred to group the party descriptions all together.
I think it was a Friday afternoon. Like many others of my fellow students, I was done with classes for the week, and looking forward to some recreation.
But Steve and Leann had their own plans, as did everyone else I might usually hang out with during such times.
I can't recall the details now, but for some reason I didn't want to travel to my hometown for the weekend. Maybe because I'd only face the same dilemma there that I was here.
So I did something out of the ordinary that day. Actually walked the two blocks from my dorm to the Sigma Chi frat houses, to see if I might get in on anything there.
I sure didn't want to just go watch a movie by myself at the little theater located at one corner of the campus, or one of the older cult retreads often shown in a campus auditorium at the far end of the place.
I'd done those too many times already.
Things were unusually quiet at the main house. The place was practically deserted.
But I did happen upon Ted Yancy there. One of the frat brothers I'd met several times before at the frat house. I didn't know him very well, but he seemed to be a pleasant enough fellow. Basically not much different from some of me and Steve's hometown buddies in many ways.
There turned out to be another few brothers and their friends around too, and a very apathetic discussion about doing something that day commenced.
Much of the apathy may have been from those guys being partied out from the weekday celebrations.
The stark scene above very much resembles an empty dorm hallway from those days. Dreary looking, isn't it?
Somehow the idea of taking a road trip to the new Disney World (in Florida) came up. It hadn't been open for long at all by that time.
Personally I was up for just about anything, so long as it was different from my usual weekend fare.
Ted though really got enthusiastic. Plus, he had a brand new Pontiac Grand Prix he was itching to take for a shakedown cruise. It was a nice car, if a bit bigger and heavier than Shadow. I think it had a fairly large motor, like 400 cubic inches or more.
We couldn't talk anyone else in accompanying us. So we decided just to go on our own. Zip down, spend a day, and zip back again.
We didn't have a whole lot of spending money. But figured a few hundred dollars would be plenty (this was the 1970s).
I thought this wouldn't be a half bad way to spend a couple days. I'd get to drive and ride in a brand new car, maybe have some fun at the amusement park, shoot the bull with one of Steve's frat brothers-- and escape the usual lonely boredom of another weekend at Tech.
Things went swimmingly for a while. It was a lengthy drive though. It didn't take long before we were maintaining around 100 mph as our average speed.
Being young male college students, we often didn't get enough sleep, and so napped whenever we got the chance during the day.
I laid down in the Grand Prix's back seat for just such a nap during our trip south.
I don't think I slept long before I was violently thrown against the backs of the front seats, and then fell into the floorboards.
Ted was cursing up a storm, as he'd been forced to slam on the brakes due to a momentary traffic clog up ahead.
I believe in a similar instance either before or after that when I was driving and Ted napping, Ted didn't suffer a similar rude awakening.
As mentioned above, we took turns driving. However, in hindsight I think I was taking far too much for granted here. I was personally accustomed to long distance high speed runs in Shadow. But I had also trained myself to watch closely for signs of law cars both marked and unmarked, even at great distance. And I routinely took extra precautions such as slowing down when I recognized the circumstances upping the risks of speed trap or other adverse condition ahead. Also where possible, I would use the cover of other traffic to protect us from possibly unseen radar guns, so I could keep our average speed up without undue risk.
And of course, when I was driving Shadow, I had all sorts of more extreme options available to me, if my precautionary measures failed.
Driving Shadow in his supercar form for quite some time now had sort of blinded me to the considerable risks still present with lesser cars.
And I guess having the superbly talented Steve as my usual companion on adventures had spoiled me in regards to what a more average associate might be capable of, as well.
Of course I explained all my precautionary measures to Ted. But in hindsight I should have known that one brief explanation could in no way get him fully up to speed in law avoidance.
I tried to supplement this of course by acting as watch out when I wasn't driving myself (and not napping).
Unfortunately, when the moment came, I couldn't get Ted to take my word for it and immediately reduce our speed when I thought I spied a trooper ahead on the horizon maybe a quarter to a half a mile away, in the opposing interstate lanes. I wasn't certain at that distance, but I urged him to slow anyway.
Ted stayed skeptical for several seconds, though. And thereby brought potential calamity raining down upon our heads.
I became increasingly insistent as the danger became suddenly much clearer. But by then it was too late.
It happened maybe only 30 miles or so from the Georgia/Florida border.
The trooper had captured us on radar running around 110 or 120 mph.
I turned my head and watched the trooper car screech to a near stop behind us, then race across the grassy median, and accelerate after us, siren and blue lights both powered up.
Ted wanted to run. I had to talk him out of it. Even if he'd been experienced at it, his car was simply not up to the task. It was an American luxury car well suited to long distance high speed runs on open and straight interstate highways. But that was it. Ratchet things up to ultra high speed, throw in a few curves or slower traffic or every day obstacles, and you were looking at a fiery crash for sure.
I didn't want to be in a fiery crash that day.
The roads and terrain here weren't well suited to escape tactics, either. We were in broad daylight, with no exits nearby we could see, virtually no knowledge of the lay of the land-- and even if we'd run off the road to flee cross-country our pursuit could watch us for at least a quarter mile in every direction, as everything was mostly flat, and there was no appreciable cover whatsoever.
I finally got Ted to slow down and stop. But he was fuming mad. Mad at the trooper for coming after us. Maybe mad at me for being so pessimistic about our chances for escape. Perhaps mad at himself, too, for getting us into this predicament.
I'm not really sure what came over Ted that day. He seemed to snap or something. And make everything much, much worse than it had to be.
Soon we were stopped and Ted and the trooper were outside the car, talking.
Ted was belligerent. I wanted to help calm him down, but the trooper wanted me to stay in the car. I obeyed, partly trying to make up for Ted's obstinance.
Ted was soon using profanity in the conversation. Rapidly building up to an awful torrent of obscenities which had me worried he'd get us both arrested.
Then, atop all that, I plainly heard Ted insult the officer. I don't know if Ted realized what he was doing or not. But he basically told the officer if he'd just tell him how much money he wanted, he'd give it to him so we could be on our way. Yikes!
I was pretty sure that sounded like a bribe or some other illegal act to the officer. And figured if I'd been the officer I might have gotten ticked off by that, if not by the tirade preceding it.
Ted sure did talk us into a pack of trouble there.
The officer instructed Ted to follow his cruiser to the local judge.
When Ted got back into the car he was madder than ever. I did my best to calm him down, but seemed to have little effect.
It was a long, long ways to the judge. I think we had to back track up the interstate ten miles or so, then get off and exit and travel another 20 or 30 miles on a little county road.
And over much of the way Ted was punching the gas pedal to the floor to rush up behind the trooper like he was going to hit him, then slamming on the brakes to barely prevent it.
He did this over and over and over again. I couldn't for the life of me understand why he was doing that. Ted paid little heed to anything I had to say about it.
The trooper amazed me with his calm and collected manner through all this.
We finally reached this little flat topped building surrounded by flat fields in every direction, with a single line of wires and telephone poles running past it from one horizon to the other.
I guess it was something like a remote highway patrol outpost or something. The building wasn't much bigger than a single family residence. There was one judge and maybe at least one other trooper present besides ours, after we arrived.
After we all walked in I was trying to be on my best behavior to make up for Ted's awesome rudeness to everyone there.
I knew these guys could do just about anything to us. Ted didn't seem to realize that. Or else he just didn't care.
I'd never seen Ted this unruly and wild before. Of course, I'd never spent this much time and distance with him, either. But he'd seemed amiable enough in my previous dealings with him.
We sat there (well, Ted was standing much of the time, out of sheer defiance of the judge) for a long, long time, as the judge deliberated our fate.
I was amazed that Ted's behavior didn't land us in jail. Instead, the judge basically took almost all the trip money we had between us, and told Ted he'd have to return a month or so later for a court date. I can't recall now if the court date was optional or not, if he wanted to get any money back.
Amazingly enough, we regained our freedom and left again, making our way back to the interstate and heading for Disney World once more. I may have tried to get Ted to head back to Tech instead at that point, since we were now seriously hurting cash-wise. But like Captain Ahab in Moby Dick, he was determined that after all this we would see Disney World anyway, come hell or high water.
It seems we either still possessed sufficient money to get inside the park, or had brought with us some sort of coupons or vouchers from Tech accomplishing that. I'm unsure now of those details. But I know for certain the judge had relieved us of most of our cash by this point.
We drove through the night and arrived in the Disney World parking lot too late for getting in that day, and too early for the next. The freshly built parking lot was vast, and empty. We parked maybe somewhere near the middle and slept in the car for a while.
We didn't sleep very well. And left the car to walk into the gate just as soon as it opened up. Almost no other visitors were there yet.
We numbly walked around the place, feeling awful, for maybe a couple hours. We couldn't enjoy ourselves. Not after losing so much money to the judge, getting little sleep the night before, and now being too poor to afford anything to eat in the place (food in Disneyworld was dizzyingly expensive in those days).
We finally gave up and headed back for the car.
By then though, about a million other people had showed up, filling up the humongous parking lot.
It was now a sea of multi-colored cars, the vast majority of them shiny and new like Ted's own.
Hours earlier it had not occurred to us in our morning daze that amidst a vast empty lot it might be tough to find Ted's car again when we came back out.
Neither Ted or I had ever been to a parking lot this gargantuan before.
We had paid no attention whatsoever to the markings on the lot pavement, or any lamp-posts' signs or whatever, regarding the location of our parking spot.
So we had to spend maybe another hour or more searching for the car. It was awful. Humiliation, embarrassment, and hassle just kept piling up around us.
After we finally found it, I think we both conked out and slept for a few more fitful hours in the car, one in the back seat, the other across the front, there in the immense parking lot. With mostly happy people occasionally passing us by.
It was getting dark when we decided to head back. We were awfully hungry and thirsty. And so was the car. Gas of course had to be our top priority. But after refueling, some quick counts and calculations showed we might be able to get a soft drink apiece and maybe a peanut butter cracker.
We stopped at a Georgia convenience store to get those items. When we got out of the car and walked towards the entrance we noticed something odd about the ground.
As it was night time, the pavement of the lot being black didn't seem that unusual. But it was also crunchy. And moving too, we abruptly realized.
"Ewwww!" I think we both exclaimed, as we discovered the ground to be covered with what appeared to be large fat black cockroaches. You couldn't take a step without squashing a handful of them underfoot.
We got into the store and asked about the terrible infestation, and the clerk said it was a seasonal thing in those parts. That they weren't cockroaches, but a kind of beetle. But the swarm this year did seem worse than usual.
Inside the store you could see a huge amount of squashed beetle guts sliming the floor in a funnel pattern from the entrance/exit doors. The big welcome mat could not contain all of the nauseating juices.
It was a great relief to get back into the car and back onto the interstate again. The whole carpet of fat bugs incident seemed awfully disgusting to us.
Tired as we were, even taking turns driving, we eventually decided it was unsafe to go any farther without better rest for us both. So we pulled over into an interstate rest area.
We were still in Georgia.
Keep in mind the trip back was proceeding at a much slower pace than the first leg, due to us driving much slower in order to prevent another pull-over.
Plus, slower driving uses less gas, and we were now so low on money we might just get stranded and have to call someone for help-- the final straw of humiliation-- if we didn't try to stretch our gas some now.
So we pulled over into a rest area, and tried to settle in for some fitful sleep.
I say fitful because of the agitated and worried-- but exhausted-- state we were in.
Plus, it was a hot Georgia night, too.
Ted's Grand Prix had great air conditioning, which had kept us plenty cool on the trip down. But we'd tried to avoid running it in past hours, to compensate for the bit of money we'd spent on a cracker and drink rather than gas.
So we cracked open the car windows what we figured was a safe amount in this public rest area. We were parked almost directly under a street lamp.
My memory's awfully fuzzy now, but I think I lay across the front seats, while Ted took the more comfortable rear bench seat.
This put my head close to the passenger side door, and beneath the window.
We slept a little I think. But not very long. To me, it soon seemed like some moths attracted by the street lamp overhead flew through the gap in the windows and began fluttering in my face. I waved them away repeatedly, before eventually being driven to full wakefulness by same.
This will surely seem humorous to anyone who didn't personally experience it. But at the time I was horrified to discover what was really happening to us in that moment.
You see, we were still in Georgia. But surely many miles distant from the stop we'd made at that convenience store for a cracker and drinks.
Yet, it turned out that that vast carpet of beetles existed in this rest area, too. Surely we saw them when we parked, and were aware of their presence. But I guess we dismissed them as anything to worry about, so long as we stayed in the car.
Maybe that'd even been part of the reason we only barely opened the windows. Just in case.
But the beetles had surprised us. By crawling up the tires, then the suspension, then the car body, then the windows and/or over the roof...
...to finally squirm through the small gap we'd left the windows open for air. And fall into the car like a little living waterfall, for how long we couldn't know, while we slept.
The fluttering I'd felt on my face was the bugs either falling on me, or crawling over me after they'd entered the car. Or both.
As I said before, I woke up, realized the truth, and was horrified.
Recall that these things closely resembled big, fat cockroaches.
I immediately began yelling at Ted about it, and he was suddenly awake and horrified too.
And there was no escaping the bugs. They surrounded us in all directions outside of the car.
We went into a frenzy of cursing and bug stomping inside the car, and rolled up the windows all the way to stop more entries.
Once it seemed we'd killed most of them, Ted climbed back into the driver's seat and we left the rest area.
No way we could stand to stay there another moment.
Ted continued to cuss as he drove. Occasionally another bug would show itself, and we'd kill it.
The whole interior of Ted's new car had become awash in bug guts and crushed shells. Some even on the inside of the windows themselves.
Man, but I hated being in that car during this time! And Ted did too! But we knew we had to continue occupying it until we got back to Tech. Yuck!
Finally, it seemed we'd miraculously killed every bug but one. And that one suddenly showed itself by running across the top of Ted's dashboard right in front of him, from driver's side towards the center.
Ted tried to bash it, but missed. The bugs could move damn fast! Plus, the slope of the windshield could make it hard to get at something too near the boundary between glass and dash.
The bug made it to the dash top openings for Ted's defroster system, and disappeared inside.
"I've got you now, you son of a bitch!" Ted exclaimed, and switched on his defroster/heater at it hottest setting.
I was skeptical the heat could do more than force the bug back out again at best-- and I think Ted thought the same. But we were wrong.
Recall this was a brand new car. With a heater system operating at peak performance. And the motor coolant from which it drew that heat was plenty hot by the time the last beetle had flashed by us atop the dash.
The big fat bug instantly roasted alive in that vent. I know, because we smelled the gut-wrenching odor of its cooking. It filled the car's interior. And it was God-awful.
We immediately began choking and gagging at the fumes, and frantically rolling down the windows for fresh air. Despite maybe fretting that more beetles might still be clinging to the car somewhere outside, just waiting for the chance to get in.
I guess it turned out to be a good thing that our stomachs were practically empty. For otherwise we might have been throwing up their contents right about then.
Once we finally made it back to Tech, Ted and I went our separate ways and never much associated with one another again after that. I definitely didn't want to go anywhere again with someone who'd lose their cool with the cops like that. And likely neither of us wanted to ever be reminded of that trip again. But hanging around one another couldn't help but do that.
I don't know if Ted ever managed to get all those bug guts cleaned out of his interior. But if he did, he'd still have had that awful roasted bug stink to deal with, too.
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