Regulars and Shorts, Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center

By Dennis Hinkamp

Utah trip advisor.
—by Dennis Hinkamp

Dang you, Internet! I write a couple motel reviews for Trip Advisor and I am forever hounded with follow-ups and requests for more. So here is my review of Utah, citing common myths about Utah for out-of-staters.

* You can’t get an alcoholic drink here. I would hate to think that this was the biggest consideration when deciding where to have your national conference. On second thought, there have been several conferences I’ve attended where I wish booze had been flowing out of the drinking fountains just to dilute the tedium.

There is little truth to this rumor. You can pretty much buy beer 24/7 every day of the week now. Yes, we have a limited number of state-controlled liquor stores, but what better place to meet your friends?

* You can get a drink here, but it’s weird: “Doesn’t Utah have something called the Zion Curtain or some other secret membership handshake thing you have to employ?” Well maybe, but at least it is uniformly weird around the state. I have been to other states that have entire counties or cities that are alcohol free; or they stop selling alcohol at some arbitrary hour every night; or you have to buy food to go with your alcohol; or they just make it up as they go along.

* Everybody in Utah is Mormon. The percentage is 61% at last count, though legislators are at about 80%; or two standard deviations above the mean. Every state probably has 61% of something that doesn’t fit your profile, so don’t let that stop you.

* All Mormons are alike: I really haven’t met or been part of any religion yet which can use mind control on all their members. Even some of the Jim Jones’ People’s Temple refused the poison Kool-Aid. Nor can you judge people by how they look in Utah or anywhere else in the country. With this new tolerance for beards, tattoos and long hair, I can no longer tell the difference between tech CEOs and panhandlers.

* We have all your data: This one is true. All of the sensitive data is stored right there next to the state prison and not far from the Tooele nerve gas storage area; sleep peacefully, what could go wrong? My advice to the federal government is to be very, very nice to Utah.

* We have all your nerve gas. Allegedly we burned all the nerve gas. What kind of alchemy is that? Where did all the fumes go?

* We have a firing squad: This one, also, is true though the state is not particularly gun mad compared to just about anyplace else in the US these days. We just reinstituted the firing squad in case there is a shortage of lethal injection drugs at the pharmacy.

* Utah is exactly like the HBO show Big Love: No, it is more like a combination of Napoleon Dynamite and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

* Utah leads the nation in skin cancer, depression and pornography purchases. True. There may be some connection there. We are also near the top of the lists in life expectancy, literacy and breathtaking national parks.

The truth is we, as states, are all weird in different ways, which makes us all the same.

This article was originally published on August 1, 2015.