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Naked truth about college

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Friday, May 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

NEWS ITEM: An unidentified Carnegie Mellon University student is sparking controversy and criticism after photos surfaced of her dispensing condoms at a school parade wearing only papal apparel from the waist up.

“Hi Mom!”

“Hello, dear. Great to finally have you home again for the weekend. How are things at CMU?”

“Couldn't be better, Mom. I just debuted my first performance art piece during the university's Anti-Gravity Downhill Derby, and it's getting an incredible amount of attention! I'm calling it ‘Sacrilegious Sophomore Stripping Away Papal Pretentions.'”

“That sounds interesting, dear. Do you get to wear a nice costume like you did when you appeared in your high school production of ‘The Pajama Game?' ”

“Sort of. I wanted to dress as the pope, but I could only find the top half of the costume in the vestments aisle at Party City. So I decided to improvise and go nude below the waist.”

“Really, dear? Why? Didn't you have a pair of clean jeans?”

“Sure I did, Mom. But as an artist I strive to be provocative, and a pair of True Religions aren't nearly as provocative as coed frontal nudity.”

“Maybe, dear. But I still think you should have worn something. You could have caught a bad cold.”

“You worry too much, Mom. Besides, the nudity allowed me to add the concept's pièce de résistance: I shaved my hair into the shape of a cross!”

“Your hair? That hair? In the shape of a ... cross?”

“Yes. I briefly considered a smiley face to serve as a counterpoint to all of the religious imagery, but ultimately I thought that it might distract from the message I wanted to convey.”

“And what message was that, dear? I'm a little fuzzy on that.”

“That I was planting the seeds of obtuse, offensive, but ultimately harmless religious imagery that could grow organically until it no longer belonged just to me, but also to the people the image lured into becoming performers in my piece.”

“Oh. Couldn't you have been fully dressed for that? You could have caught a cold.”

“You're missing the point, Mom. The seeds grew! The image now belongs to all of the media outlets who gave my performance the publicity I never dreamed it would attract. It belongs to Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, who has publicly asked the university to discipline me. It belongs to the several national Catholic organizations protesting my actions. It belongs to university President Jared Cohon, who issued a public apology to anyone offended by what I did.”

“You brought all those people together? My goodness.”

“I wanted to make you and Dad proud of me, Mom. That's all I thought about during my Schick-sculpting.”

“We are proud, dear. I admit I was a bit confused about what you were trying to accomplish when you first started explaining this to me, but now it all makes sense. That $45,000 your father and I spent to send you to CMU this year has been worth every penny.”

“Thanks, Mom. Achoo!”

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or

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