I recently moved to Salt Lake City after living in Provo and Orem for nine years. You can imagine the thrill when my paperwork was approved and I received my exit visa. It would be the start of a new life for me!
It was never my intention that I, a California-raised lad, become a Utahn at all, much less a resident of Utah County. But that’s where BYU was, and where my post-graduation job was, and so Utah County became my home. Most of my college friends moved away to exciting locales such as Portland and Tampa, but I remained, hamstrung by the need for gainful, full-time employment.
Well, eff that. When the job ended, I had no reason to stay in the barren, nerdy wasteland of Utah Valley, so I moved here to your fine city — make that OUR fine city — known among hip individuals as The SLC. I have been to places that were more cosmopolitan, more culturally rich and more exciting than The SLC, but compared to the sleepy tranquility of Orem, Salt Lake is a crack-fueled 24-hour rock-star party with hookers.
I noted first that The SLC has crazy people wandering its streets. Honest-to-goodness actual CRAZY people. In Utah Valley, they are all either locked up or elected, and in either case kept away from the general public.
We also have smokers up here. Down south, you had to stand outside Denny’s if you wanted to meet a smoker. I don’t smoke, and I don’t like being around people when they are smoking, but somehow the fact that smokers are present excites me, as it reminds me of the fascinating diversity of truly huge cities like Austin and Spokane.
I have also, while walking the streets of The SLC, encountered African-Americans.
I am also smitten with The SLC’s downtown, where I live. I know there has been much hand-wringing about the supposed demise of downtown, and I suppose the many deserted, hobo-occupied buildings indicate it’s not as thriving as it once was. But I like it. I’m within walking distance of the library, two movie theaters, dozens of restaurants, and, when I feel like gazing at items I cannot possibly afford to buy, the Gateway. It’s not New York, but it might be Knoxville or Boulder.
Of course, though I have left Utah Valley never to return, I must admit even the most desolate, taste-forsaken places have their advantages. I have come up with two ways that The UV beats The SLC:
1) The Carl’s Jr. near my home in Orem was very good about asking, “Ketchup or fry sauce?” when handing over your order at the drive-thru window. The one in The SLC doesn’t do this, and twice I have driven away without remembering to request fry sauce and have had to either double back or curse Carl and his progeny as I drive home sauceless and forlorn.
2) Ninety-five percent of the people in Utah Valley are LDS, which makes it easy: You can assume pretty much everyone you encounter is Mormon, and speak accordingly. In The SLC, the numbers are about evenly mixed, which means it’s a crapshoot whether terms like “patriarchal blessing” and “ignernt” can be used effectively in communication. It’s also a crapshoot whether you can get away with words like “crapshoot.”
But on the whole, The SLC beats the unflattering knee-length shorts off Utah Valley in every conceivable way. It may not be THE place, but it’s certainly A place. And now it’s my place.
What do I do in my spare time, assuming writing "Snide Remarks" isn't a full-time job? Well, sometimes I write columns for other people, thank you very much. Like City Weekly, an alternative newsweekly in The SLC that saw fit to publish some of my writings during the time that I lived there.