May 9th, 2011
Utah is beautiful. It has a gorgeous snow-peaked mountain range, a moonscape salt lake basin, Mormons who raise big families with well-mannered kids and a plethora of temples with the Angel Moroni blowing his golden trumpet on top.
What it doesn’t have is a drinking culture. Which is unfortunate when you’re me. Because I like to have a glass of wine with dinner. Two glasses of wine if Bridget brought a classmate named James home for a playdate and he only wanted to play with Clare because Clare has light sabers and a scythe, so then Bridget built a tent out of toilet paper to catch James’ attention, but he didn’t care…
(This is all hypothetical)
…and then Clare smiled at Bridget like, “Your friend likes me better than yooou,” even though the smile was supposed to mean, “Bridget your tent is the coolest and I don’t know why James won’t leave me alone,” but it probably really was the better-than-you smile so Bridget had to sock Clare in the pelvic bone, which meant Clare had to kick Bridget in the shin and call her a “jackass” (which I never say) and so James had to go home early and I had to have a second glass of wine.
In California this kind of imbibing is medicinal. In Utah…well let’s just sketch this out…
For spring break we arrive at my Mormon brother and sister-in-laws’ house. They are hip, cool and wear their religion lightly, which I appreciate being the heathen agnostic I am. We have five kids between us and the trip is all about them. Below is a power point presentation of an average day:
10 a.m. Wheeler Farm
A. Kids feed ducks
B. I step in pig poo
12:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Point Dinosaur Museum
A. Kids brush sand off dinosaur fossils
B. I forget to wear protective goggles and get a sandcastle in my eyes.
3 p.m. South Jordan Recreational Center
A. Kids love 10 foot twisty water slide
B. I get unexpected slide-douche
The next thing I know I’m driving solo, damp-headed, with a zing in my zong down Bangerter Highway in search of the State Liquor Store, which turns out to be a bleak, cinder-block bunker that looks like a prison for three-strike hard timers and Charlie Sheen.
I sit in my minivan and scan the parking lot like a pantyless celebutante about to make a crack buy. I take a deep breath and exit my vehicle. I don’t so much walk to the store as I sidle to it and duck in.
On entry I expect to find Jug-O-Vodka and Sangria made from corn cobs, instead they have Cambria chardonnays, Coppola pinot noirs, Hess sauvignon blancs just like my local Trader Joes. I’m starting to feel normal again until I realize there are only two customers in the store. A man with tattoos of lizard scales on his face and a baseball cap facing backwards with the word “Pussy” stitched into it. The second customer is me.
How many bottles should I get? I’m the only drinker in the house because Henry gets migraines from alcohol, the traitor. We’ll be staying there for a week. Two. I should get two bottles. But if I get two that’s about eight glasses of wine and that’s a little more than one glass per day and I don’t want to seem like someone with a problem – why am I thinking so much?
I’ll just get one bottle because I don’t really need, I mean want more than that. With one bottle I’ll have to drink my wine in jiggers. One jigger a day. It’ll be like doing chelation therapy in case I’m developing my father’s artery issues. And I won’t enjoy it.
I arrive at the cashier with my bottle of Kendall Jackson Cabernet. I ask where they keep their corkscrews. “We don’t carry corkscrews,” says the seen-it-all cashier. I stare at her, she stares at me.
10 minutes later I’m trolling the aisles of Harmon’s Grocery, where they don’t sell wine, but they do sell corkscrews. I find the corkscrews in the feminine protection aisle. I wish I were kidding. I can’t go to the cashier with just a corkscrew. What will she think of me? She’s on her way to the Celestial level of heaven, which is the highest where you get to be a God in your own right.
If I buy this corkscrew I’m not even going to get into the lesser Terrestrial or Telestial Kingdoms of Heaven. I don’t even know if I’ll get to the spirit prison where the missionaries give you a chance to be baptized. Is there anything between the spirit prison and Hell?
I hand the cashier a box of OB tampons and my corkscrew. I sweat as she rings it in. I think I see a slight flare of distaste in her nostrils. She’s smiling, but her nostrils are judging me. They’re saying, “You reek of unworthiness.”
I return to my brother’s where everyone has already eaten, gone to bed, gotten up the next day, gone to the park and come back to watch Spongebob. I go to the cupboard to get a wine glass. There are no wine glasses. There are red, blue and yellow plastic water cups, there are ceramic coffee mugs. Aha! There is one drinking vessel actually made of glass. It has Sleeping Beauty’s castle from Disneyland etched on it with my nephew’s name, Paden, underneath. Which all adds up to mean one thing – When in Utah, I’m an alcoholic.
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