a utahn in california

it just isn’t thanksgiving in this country unless you endure some form of travel. normally, i pay my dues by just watching ‘trains, planes and automobiles’. but this year i drove* to northern california from utah with my uncle and father. i joined the masses.

*a special extended middle finger goes to airlines and their $600 tickets this season. thanks a lot. because who doesn’t like spending 14 hours in a mini van?**

**ok, it actually wasn’t all that bad. but nevada just isn’t that pretty. i digress.

now, i have been to california dozens of times before. normally i look forward to hunting through tide pools, escaping reality, and giggling with glee at the prospect of being able to buy booze in every supermarket. this trip, though, felt tainted right from the beginning. prop 8 had left a horrible and indelible mark on me; what was i going to see in california? experience? what if, for example, while buying booze at a supermarket, i overheard someone gloating over the victory of prop 8? how would i react? i was going to be behind the enemy lines, so to speak.

in an ironic way, i was also preemptively embarrassed at the thought of driving into california in a mini van with utah license plates. i felt that california should feel shameful for its action, but then again, utah should be just as embarrassed for itself. upon crossing the border into california, i became really concerned about the utah plates, admittedly more than i should have been. scenarios began to run through my head, for example, what if our car gets tipped? how many people are going to flip us off? will people look at my family and i and give us that stoic, upset-parent look that pierces your soul? at the same time i quickly thought up retorts like, “wait, you idiot, i’m gay. for heaven’s sake i’m wearing flannel”, or, “we’re not really utahan the way you think we are. we all protested! honest! i have photos!”, or even the more desperate lie, “it’s not our car.” i also had the thought of slapping a rainbow sticker on the bumper, to ward off the angry californians like a cross to a vampire. 

in the end, i worried for nothing. nothing was thrown at our car, no one said anything, nada, zip. actually, aside from a handful of “no on 8” lawn signs in my family’s neighborhood, life went on as usual. to my amazement and slight disappointment, the san jose paper was devoid of any stories about prop 8 or any gay marriage initiative. i went into san francisco, and so no signs of retribution or protest. just a half naked guy in yellow hot pants roller blading on fisherman’s wharf, but hey, that’s nothing new. the rabble rouser in me was bummed. maybe i was secretly hoping to jump into some action. i realized that i was looking forward to possibly talking to people about the whole thing, and in my odd fantasies i imagined myself as the black sheep spokesperson for utah. it was california that brought so many people together, and here i was, in their state! in the end, though, it really was like all my other trips to california. 

driving back into utah, mini van stuffed full of trader jo’s food and supermarket booze, i passed a car with california plates in the middle of the salt flats, and i couldn’t help but wonder if they were worrying about the same things that i was: were we going to stare them down? did they feel embarrassed? were they so concerned like i was that they were contemplating slapping a picture of the temple on their bumper? who knows, maybe they didn’t even vote. i knew nothing about them except half of their bumper was missing, and that can only tell you so much. in the end i just let those thoughts go.

maybe next time i’ll be able to talk with people, and who knows, maybe someone will happen to talk to me. and hopefully, in due time, california and utah can raise their glasses of wine and jello, respectively, toast to gay marriage in america, and look back on how silly we both acted.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Scott Ethington on December 3, 2008 at 4:55 pm


    I just could not let you get away with this article without voicing my thoughts on the matter….

    I cannot sit back and read out right offensive words that are completely false. I have such strong feelings towards this, now let me make my point.

    I must defend Nevada. For it really is a beautiful place … well, you’ll just have to believe me. You just have to know where to look. I hope you understand the sarcasm spewing out of your computer screen, but Nevada has a … special kind of beauty. For example, half of Lake Tahoe is in Nevada … well, that’s about it, I guess.


  2. Posted by ethingtoneric on December 3, 2008 at 11:54 pm


    Watch for who the author is on the posts so you don’t respond to the wrong person. Alibeast is now another author on my weblog, so she’ll be posting her own articles as well (like this one, which I think is fantastic!).



  3. Posted by alibeast on December 3, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    eric beat me to my own blog’s response.

    but yes, i will take full blame for lambasting the banality of nevada. i, too, know that there are very scenic parts to nevada. however, none of them are immediately adjacent to a highway view. there is just brown. lots and lots of shades of brown.

    anyway scott, thanks for reading 🙂 i’ll be sure to mildly insult other states for your enjoyment.


  4. Posted by ethingtoneric on December 4, 2008 at 12:56 am

    Alibeast’s response was much better than mine anyway, ha ha



  5. Posted by Scott Ethington on December 4, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Well, I’m sorry for not paying better attention to the author. You know I was just joking about Nevada, I know that it’s not a very attractive state, but I like it none the less. To each his own, I guess. However, you can mildy insult any other state as long is it’s not Texas either, I got enough of that from the people in Nevada.


  6. Posted by alibeast on December 4, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    ok scott, i’ll give you your texas, but every other state in the south is still up for grabs.

    texas was such an easy (and obvious) target though. sigh.


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