Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Trip - Observations of Utah

Utah is a different state from most of the other states in the country, because of its founding by the Mormons in the mid-1800s. The influence is still there, though not completely.

A friend of mine is Mormon, and she grew up in Utah. We've talked sometimes about the cultural differences between Utah and California, one of which is the question of modesty in clothing for women. Her son recently got married, and she had trouble finding a modest mother-of-the-groom formal dress. All the bride's magazines have strapless or spaghetti-strap bodices, many of which were low-cut. Not the thing at all for a Mormom family wedding. Or for anybody who believes that cleavage is best saved for the privacy of the bedroom and not to be hung out for display like a rack of meat.

So when my mom and I stopped at a grocery store in southern Utah, I looked around to see if women were dressed more modestly than elsewhere. A lot of them were, but then that's not really fair to say, since I wasn't looking at women's fashions in Nevada or California. But at the Utah Wal-Mart, lots of women had their upper arms and cleavage covered up. One woman (it was close to 100 degrees outside) was wearing a long-sleeve shirt under a denim jumper shaped like a burlap sack. Modesty doesn't have to mean frumpy, but nobody had informed this woman yet.

And there were a lot of pregnant women with little kids too, but then at my church there are a lot of pregnant women with young kids. So my stereotypes may be showing. But not completely, because there were billboards advertising large houses:

"Eight kids. All girls. 120 pairs of shoes." And then it had the name of the home builder, which I forget. So there must still be something to the image of Utah having large families.

And there was one other thing that was more a reminder to me of the days when I worked at the headquarters of a fast-food chain. I worked in IT, supporting their accounting and other software. There was one program that was set to blow up (causing the oncall support person to get paged) if any of the stores reported zero sales for a non-holiday day. After all, even on a horrible sales day, there should be at least one soft drink or one food item sold. A store reporting no sales could be revealing a potential absconder with company funds.

But my first July that I worked there, I got called because the program blew up. I called the woman in the Accounting department who knew about this stuff, and she asked me if the store was in Utah. I looked it up, and it was. So she told me not to worry about it, to keep the processing going, because Utah had their own state holiday that some of their stores were closed for. My friend told me later that it's Utah's Founders Day.

As we drove toward Salt Lake City, I saw a billboard that said, "Kick off your 24th." The town we were driving through was holding a rodeo from the 21st to the 24th. I smiled, because I knew that just a couple days before, somebody at HQ had been paged because a Utah store reported no sales.


Malott said...

I prefer my bodices "spaghetti-strapped"... but that's just me.

SkyePuppy said...

My dear Chris,

I could have lived without the image of you in spaghetti straps...

CG said...


And since I was just in Utah again I couldn't help but notice that there was not a single billboard anywhere advertising with SEX! No bikinis to sell tires! It was refreshing.

SkyePuppy said...


Oooh! You're right!!! I hadn't noticed that. I only noticed the billboards advertising really big houses for really big families.

Yes, that is definitely refreshing.

Branddobbe said...

Says you.