As I drive past stretches of nothing for miles and miles on either side of the road and towards the far off mountains, I think of getting a t-shirt made that simply states “things are weird in Utah.” To me that seems like an understatement, but there aren’t any other ways to put it without the use of profanity. I hadn’t been to Utah before deciding to bless a friend from high school with my presence for the weekend, and I was eager to find out if the state was anything like the film “SLC Punk” portrayed it: as a religiously oppressive, ultraconservative society filled with rednecks that enjoy beating the hell out of punks. I didn’t see any large posses of punks or rednecks, though I did feel that there was something different in the air, or maybe the water. Everything was too boring, people haven’t seemed that boring since television in the 50’s. The idea for the movie “Pleasantville” must have been thought up by some poor sap stuck in Utah, where life seems to be taking place on a black and white screen.
Even the universities, institutes of higher learning that are usually chalk full of free thinkers, were more conservative than the current White House administration. We at Eastern complain about the food service and parking meters, but at least we don’t have an official bedtime as they do at Brigham Young University. Even Utah State University, affectionately nicknamed the “sinner” school seems more like summer camp than college. The closest thing to a sin that I witnessed at the “school from hell” was the viewing of an R-rated movie in my friend’s dorm room, which was private because she was afraid of having the ‘F’ word drift out to the hall and into somebody’s virgin ears. The dorms are separate for males and females, each sex not allowed to stay over night in the other’s rooms and their idea of a night out is just slightly more exciting than the 10-hour drive to get to Utah. I’m thankful for not having spent any significant amount of time in the state. As I continue to drive on the least scenic road west of the Mississippi, my mind keeps drifting back to one thought: Things are weird in Utah.