Weekend in Zion

At The Desert Pearl Hotel in Springdale, Utah

Ethan (age 5): The sink in our room is so short! I had to bend over to use it!!!

Me: What sink? What are you talking about?

Ethan: The one in the bathroom.

Me: Right next to the toilet?

Ethan: Yeah!

Me: That is not a sink. It’s a bidet.

Ethan: What’s that?

(Pause)

Matt: It’s European.

Me: Only it’s for when you’re-a-poopin’.

Ethan: WHAT?

Matt: It’s a sink for your bum.

Ethan: 😐

End scene.

(Photo: Zion National Park –  Mt. Carmel Highway Scenic Drive)

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Heavy Heavy Hangover

Heavy Heavy Hangover

“What do you want for your birthday?” a friend asked.

“Oh, I don’t deserve a present.  Just give me a lump of coal in a brown paper sack.  That will make it easier for you to hit me in the head with it.”

My friend gave me a blank stare which he accented with thoughtful blinking.  Finally he asked, “What the hell are you talking about?”

“You know.  That game you play when you’re a kid?  ‘Heavy heavy hangover… thy poor head…’?”

More blank staring and thoughtful blinking.

So I explained the game.  The birthday boy or girl would have to sit in a chair and everyone who brought a gift to the party would, one by one, go stand behind the child and say the whole rhyme.  Which went, “Heavy heavy hangover, thy poor head.  What would you wish with a BUMP on your head?”  And when you say “bump,” you would wallop the birthday kid over the head with your gift.  And you could smash them as hard as you want and they couldn’t get mad.  And then, as you would hand them the gift to unwrap, they would wish for something specifically for you.  Usually it was for something completely outlandish and impossible.  Like a pony, or a trip to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

“That’s… completely… odd,” said my friend as diplomatically as possible.

“You really didn’t play that game growing up?” I asked.  “Seriously?  I always assumed that everyone played that at birthday parties.”

I asked about twenty people over the next couple of days if they had ever heard of this game, and no one had.  I called my parents to ask them where it came from, but it turns out that neither of them ever played it as kids.  In fact, they hadn’t heard of it until my sisters and I learned it from the neighbors.

I brought it up again at my birthday party.  “Have any of you ever heard of ‘Heavy Heavy Hangover?’”

This time, my friend Gina (who was also raised in Utah) immediately started chanting the rhyme in a funny put-on kid voice.

“Yes!” I said.  “Finally!  I thought I was going insane!”

“Mormons are so weird,” someone else said, after we explained the game to the room.

“That’s just it!” I said.  “It can’t be a Mormon thing; it has the word ‘hangover’ in it!  Right?”

“Maybe that’s what Mormons think hangovers are,” Gina offered.

“Maybe…” I wondered.

I Googled it but didn’t solve the mystery.  I found some references and it definitely seems to be Utah and even Mormon centric.  But  I didn’t find an origin story.

Then, sometime later, I was re-reading The Great Brain, a children’s book by Utah writer, John D. Fitzgerald and he referenced the game (and he didn’t explain it, so apparently he thought it was ‘a thing’ too), proving they were playing it in Utah as early as the 1910s.  Wherever it came from, it’s probably a good thing it never caught on in any global sense.  Sure, it was fun for us to brain each other when we were kids.  But kids can handle that sort of thing because – as everyone knows – children are made of galvanized rubber and polyurethane.  If everyone carried a connection with birthday gifts and head injuries into adulthood, as I have done, this world would be a much scarier place.  Especially when you consider that more than one of my lovely friends bought me wine for my birthday.  One well placed thwack with that and I’d be permanently lobotomized.  I’d wander around for the rest of my life drooling on people while wishing them ponies.

And Mormons think that alcohol is bad for you if you drink it.  Can you imagine?

Pride

The first time I went to the Pride Festival in Salt Lake City back in the 90s, it was a fairly small affair.  Don’t get me wrong; it was a good sized party and plenty of people came, but not so many that you wouldn’t bump into your friends without making a big deal over it. Which was good because I didn’t have a cell phone back then. There was a free speech corner for the protesters, and there were a decent number of those. And there were booths but it didn’t have a lot of art or stuff for sale. I would say it was fun with freaky elements, but ultimately low key. 

Am I telling you this to say that I liked gay people before it was cool to like gay people?  Yes. And also to point out it was once possible to meet up with friends and do stuff without cell phones. But mostly I have it on my mind because I was trying to conjure that memory today while at the Pride parade and festival. I heard on NPR on Friday that thirty thousand people were expected to attend.

Thirty. Thousand. People. In Salt Lake City. UTAH!

If I had been in a coma since the 90s and awoke today to be told by my friends how far we have come on LGBTQ rights, I would have said, “There’s a ‘Q’ now? What’s that stand for?” Then, when I was fully up to speed I would have said, “Holy Shit! Is it 2048?”

And then my friends would say, “No, it’s only 2016! And your hair is still brown!”

Then I would have said, “Dudes! That is The Bomb! Now get me outta this bed, Beeotch, so we can do the Macarena!!! People still do that, right?”

I haven’t been in a coma but I was still stunned to go and see the joy and the community acceptance that is at the center of the SLC Pride celebration now. So many people came to hang out and enjoy the festival. I started to write something about “came to support…” But it didn’t really feel like that to me, today. It just felt like people having fun. 

There were no protesters (that I saw). I didn’t hear any pro or con arguments of any sort. People danced and ate and wandered around. It was the party of the year and everyone was invited. And it was amazing. 

The bit that really got me were the grey haired folks marching in the parade with Mormons Building Bridges, a group of Latter Day Saints that supports the LGBTQ community. There were multiple people in wheelchairs and one that was holding a sign proclaiming her love and support for her grandson. If someone would have told me about that after I came out of my imaginary coma I would have gone right back under. 

When the lady in the wheelchair went by I teared up a little bit; I really did. But then I told myself to snap out of it because in trying to wipe the tears away I got sunscreen in my eyes and that hurt really bad. 

We live in a truly remarkable time. We get to live our lives as authentically as we dare to. We aren’t required to live the lives that others planned for us in order to make them feel comfortable. It still isn’t easy, but so many obstacles have been cleared for us and for those who come after. 

If you’ve never been to a Pride Festival and have one coming up in your area, go. Celebrate. Be your authentic self. You might not encounter someone you can make uncomfortable, but you may make an old cynic like me cry. 

Bear River Bird Refuge, Utah

I didn’t see many birds on my visit to the refuge, but I did enjoy our beautiful mountains. I never get tired of seeing them. 

   
   

The Cuisine of Central Utah

Traveling south from Salt Lake City on Interstate 15, you will eventually pass a city called Fillmore, a tiny town that was the original capital of the Utah territory.  Then, about fifty miles south of that, you will pass the city of Beaver.   Growing up, I often heard this part of the state referred to as “the Fillmore/Beaver area.”  Either because Utahn’s are really sheltered, or because we like to make our teenagers giggle. 

I wonder which of those two types of Utahns made this sign.  I’m hoping the latter.