Friday, October 10, 2014

So You Didn't Grow Up In Utah?

Since I (largely) disagreed with Chad Buleen's 13 Ways People Can Tell You Didn't Grow Up in Utah, I decided to come up with a more accurate list. Many things popped into my head that I didn't end up using. Bipolar weather, for example. Here in Utah, a storm can blow through in a matter of minutes. However, this is true of so many other places in our country that it's hardly a native Utah thing. So I crossed it out with a big black Sharpie. Unfortunately, not everyone has the good fortune of spending the first 26 years of her life in a place with near perfect weather year round. I also thought about how everyone uses the "I" when discussing an Interstate. "Take I-15," they'll say. Where I grew up, in southern California, everyone says, "the 15." Or the 163 or the 8 or any number of the other dozens of freeways. We don't feel the need to clarify that it's an Interstate. However, I've heard people use the "I" in other places so, again, it isn't something unique to Utah. Still, I was able to come up with a list of actual ways people can tell you didn't grow up in Utah. I present it to you now. This is very important stuff. I'm sure that all two of my Utah readers will find it fascinating while the other eight of you just wait for the next post.

1. You had never heard, nor do you use, the phrase, "Oh my heck!"
I was warned about this before I moved here so I wish I could say that I was ready for it. The truth of the matter is that nothing prepares you for this phrase. What does it mean? I've even heard it altered. Oh my go to heck. Yep. If Utahns can get away with this I think we should all just start making up our own versions. "Oh my dearly departed great aunt Ruth!" or "Oh my fried salamander!" Whatever. Be creative.

2. You don't know any good recipes involving green Jell-O nor do you know how to cook Funeral Potatoes.
Everyone who is actually from here knows how to whip up a dish involving green Jell-O and shredded carrots. Everyone also knows how to make a dish referred to as Funeral Potatoes. I think this is because they're commonly eaten at the gathering immediately following a funeral. But I honestly don't know for sure on account of the fact that I'm not from here. The latter are actually delicious while the former is gross. Carrots? In Jell-O? It's a Utah thing.

3. You are not used to seeing an LDS meetinghouse on every corner.
The small town I grew up in had two wards that shared one building. Here, in the Salt Lake Valley, there's one ward for every few streets. The spires on the meetinghouses can be seen everywhere. If you're used to seeing a 7-11 or a Starbucks on every corner, you probably didn't grow up in Utah.

4. You didn't know that Halloween is more important than Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, and Independence Day put together.
Utahns LOVE their Halloween. When we came to visit in October of 2007, I had no idea what was happening. It was the very first week of the month and yards were COVERED in fake spider webs, grave stones, goblins, ghosts, witches, and black cats. People had changed their outside lighting to shine orange or eerie green. There were Halloween superstores everywhere. Now that I live here, I know about the crazy corn mazes, the haunted houses, the carnivals, and the fact that everything just about shuts down for this weird holiday. In other places, Halloween is for the kids. Here, well, it seems to be for everyone.

5. You've never heard of Pioneer Day.
In Utah, the only holiday bigger than Halloween is Pioneer Day. Where all the other states just have the 4th of July, Utah gets the 4th AND the 24th. Celebrating the day when Brigham Young led the first group of pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley, Utahns get the day off work to light fireworks, have barbecues, march in parades, and attend parties. It's exactly like what all Americans do on the 4th, except, 20 days later. So, if your Independence Day was lame, never fear. You've still got Pioneer Day.

6. You pronounce Hurricane, Tooele, and Mantua they way they look but you pronounce Juab with a silent J.
Juab is actually pronounced the way it looks. Jew-ab. This is confusing for anyone who moved here from anywhere with a Spanish or Latin American influence. It looks like Wahb to me. This is especially confusing because nothing else is pronounced the way it looks. Take Hurricane (Hurri-kin), Tooele (Too-ill-uh), and Mantua (Manna-way) for example.

7. You stop when the light turns red.
Here in Utah, when making a left turn, red lights are completely optional. No joke. When the light turns red, you can see three or four cars continue right on through the turn. Oncoming traffic has to sit and wait for everyone to break the law before they can safely go. If the city placed traffic cops at major intersections, we could easily balance the budget. It's ridiculous. It's dangerous. It's a serious problem.

8. You've never had to go to a state liquor store to buy alcohol.
The local grocery store doesn't have an alcohol section. Well, they do, but it consists of beer. If you want something else, anything else, cooking wine, even, you'll have to find your local state liquor store.

9. You've never sloughed/sluffed school before.
You've, perhaps, "ditched" school. Maybe you've even "skipped" school. But you've never sloughed it. To slough, in biology terms, means to shed or cast off. How this came to be the verb for a Utahn choosing to do anything but attend class is beyond me.

10. You eat ketchup with your fries.
Utah is the home of the fry sauce. I think fry sauce is some blend of mayonnaise and ketchup, heavy on the mayo. It's no wonder why this hasn't spread outside of Utah. It's straight up gross.

11. You come from a place that doesn't name all of its towns after LDS leaders, Biblical places or Book of Mormon locations.
Zion, Lehi, Nephi, Ephraim, Enoch, Brigham City, Lewiston, Moab, Willard and Woodruff. To name just a few.

12. You enunciate the T in mountain and you don't add a K to an "ing" word.
So many people native to these parts (and a lot of people who've just listened long enough to people native to these parts) do not pronounce the "t" found in the middle of words like mountain, fountain, titan, etc. There is a slight pause where the "t" should be, almost as though it's spoken softly from the back of the throat. Additionally, the "g" at the end of words gets caught in the back of the throat as well. As such, it seems that the "k" sound is added to the end of many "ing" words, resulting in these action verbs sounding more like they all end in the suffix "ink". Hikink, swimmink, flyink, sittink, sleepink. Will you meet me at the fow-an in the cen-er of the parkink lot?

13. You didn't name your son Jimmer, Hyrum or Monson. You didn't name your daughter Brinkley, McCall or LaKindree.
It's been brought to my attention that this is actually a problem here in Utah that has been written about, discussed, etc. The theory is that it does stem from the sheer volume of children born here and the fact that parents don't want them to be the fifth David in their class. So, they go with Dravin or Javid or something else, unique to their child. There are baby naming apocalypses going on in other places as well but it doesn't seem that anywhere is facing quite the epidemic that Utah children do.

I've posted this video before. It cracks me up. I'm not saying every name on this list is awful or terrible. Some of them are nice. But it's still way funny.

They just made a new video. Equally as hilarious.

So there you have it. 13 ways people can tell you didn't grow up in Utah.


  1. Those are hilarious videos! And I like your list much better than that other one! Who doesn't know Newsies or quote Princess Bride?? (Wuv, twooh wuv...) Perhaps people growing up outside the evangelical Christian subculture aren't familiar with it?

  2. These are so spot on! I think yours are a little better. Made me laugh! It's funny what I've forgotten in eleven years since I lived there!

  3. Fry sauce is a Utah thing. However, it is one of the positive offerings that the state has made to fast food. Maybe not positive in a healthy/calorie conscious choice, but positive as in YUM.

  4. When we first moved here, I thought these people ate out an awful lot because they were always going to the "steakhouse" (stake house).

    Also, you forgot to mention that teenage girls don't babysit, they "tend".

  5. Wait, people actually eat something consisting of green Jell-O and carrots? Why? Why would they do this?

    And, um, Manna-way? How on God's green earth does that word sound like that? That's right up there with Favre being pronounced Farve. No sense is made there.