Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Beehive State

The plane carrying my traveling companions and me made it safely over the Sierra Nevada and on  to the edge of the Rockies, which means I'm now in Utah. Utah is something everyone should experience at least once in his or her lifetime if only for the sheer bizarreness of the place. I've already spent enough time both within the boundaries of Utah as recognized by cartographers and in the adjacent spaces (Idaho, northern Arizona, western Wyoming), which, despite what your fifth grade teacher may have told you,  are Utah even if the maps say "Idaho", "northern Arizona", or "western Wyoming," that I'm essentially beyond being shocked by most of what happens here. If you, like me, have ever ventured into the State of the Deseret and its abutting territories, you know of what I speak.

Despite Salt Lake City's designation as the state capitol and the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and despite the government and church offices there,  Salt Lake City is in actuality the hub of neither the church nor the state. Salt Lake City is far too modern and diverse a metropolis for such a distinction. The real core of Utah is in the heart of the county bearing its name. Utah County is home to Brigham Young University and to a slew of small- to moderate-sized communities so unenlightened as to make  television's Hooterville  and Mayberry appear sophisticated by comparison. I could elaborate ad nauseum about life in Provo and its surrounding municipalities (for some reason on which I cannot put my thumb, it does not feel right to refer to any of these places as "suburbs"), but my words cannot do justice to the absurdities of day-to-day life in Happy Valley.

I will, however, give you one brief glimpse into the provinciality of central Utah. If one wishes to see a  picture -- a real cross-section -- of any location, be it London, San Francisco, or Tokyo, one should try to find the practical mecca -- the place where the masses shop. In Utah County, that place would be the Target superstore in whatever community  is large enough to have a Target superstore. Don't go there if you actually need to buy anything  because you'll have a damned hard time getting into the store, finding the item or items you need, paying for your purchases, and getting out of the store, because of the sheer number of children accompanying each paying customer. The children have to do something while their mothers shop, so they play with the merchandise, thus preventing actual paying customers from getting anywhere near the items they need. I might also point out that you need to watch where you step. Some of the children you will encounter are at the potty-training stage, and shopping mothers aren't always the most attentive potty trainers on the face of the planet. Store employees cannot work fast enough to place enough "Slippery When Wet" signs in all the applicable places. If you are the rare customer who has had the good fortune of locating an item you needed to purchase and were actually able to get your hands on it, you should open it and check its condition before making a purchase. Chances are that you're not the first person who has opened the item, and the twenty or so  children who have opened it before you  may not have handled the object carefully. When a store employee found it, he or she probably followed the unofficial store policy of shoving it back into its original packaging, broken or not. 

One thing you really must do before you run out of the store and raid the nearest benzo supply is to walk down the "hair coloring products" aisle. There you will find an entire row devoted to blonde hair coloring products.  If you were under the mistaken impression that blonde comes in three shades, perhaps something like light blonde, medium blonde, and dark blonde, you will learn just how very uninformed you were. You will see boxes of bleach products by the dozens,   with  names (often related to food) such  as honey blonde, sugar cookie blonde, Ann Romney blonde, lemon jello blonde (I won't even touch the jello obsession endemic to this region), marshmallow blonde, sunlit blonde, Mary-Mother-of-Jesus blonde (Didn't know she was blonde? It's a common misconception, and I'll pardon your ignorance),  powder blonde, Swiss cheese blonde, brain-dead blonde,  buttermilk blonde,  a la mode blonde, and lobotomy blonde, just to name a few. In the places I've lived, hair coloring products can be found in shades of brunette or red as well. Women in Utah know something the rest of the world has yet to discover, which is that there's no legitimate reason to color one's hair any color other than blonde.

The purpose for my coming to Utah was to attend a high school graduation, which I did. I have pictures to prove that I was there, which is a good thing if I ever happen to need my attendance at the graduation to serve as an alibi for any reason, because I didn't hear a damned thing that was spoken in the ceremony other than the Pledge of  Allegiance, which everyone said in unison, so it was loud enough to be heard over the noise of the fifteen-thousand  babies and small children, give or take a few,  in attendance.

I just arrived home from the all-night grad night party. It's not quite all night yet, but it was close enough that the grad I accompanied decided to call it a night. In the event that my date and I had any plans of stopping on the way home to engage in extracurricular recreational procreation, the grad night Nazis placed a phone call to my date's parents alerting them to our early exit. Since we didn't plan on and didn't engage in any unsanctioned contact, all the call accomplished was to interrupt my date's parents' sleep, but better safe than sinful.


Note to the Utah Department of Tourism: You can send my commission payment to me through my Wells Fargo account.


  1. Sounds divine! Or maybe not!

  2. Lobotomy blonde - that's what I need to call what's growing out of my head! Thanks!I love your descriptions and your writing.