We don't have In-N-Out Burger in Utah. But in spite of this, every Utah kid old enough to read knows about In-N-Out. It's a long story, but here's why:
Utah is a landlocked state. Our largest body of water is so salty, it's toxic to nearly all life. Utah isn't famous for anything very exciting. Our license plates have a picture of the desert on them for crying out loud. We have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Book of Mormon, the Mormon Church (of which I am a card-carrying member), and the occasional polygamist. Imagine Nevada without gambling, swearing, drinking, or hookers and you have a pretty good idea of what Utah is like. (Okay, it's not that bad, we sometimes swear here too.)
But don't get me wrong, I love Utah. I am proud to be what they call "Utarded." I like it here. So don't send me any nasty emails. The truth is, If it weren't for the siren-song of California, nobody would complain about living in Utah. But unfortunately for us Utahns, California exists. The San Andreas fault hasn't swallowed it up yet. Growing up I dreamed of California. Like a poor Israelite wandering in the wilderness thirsting for milk and honey but only finding manna, I dreamed one day to visit Disneyland and to swim in the ocean. Who wouldn't?
So it really isn't any surprise that whenever a kid moved to Utah from California, he or she was instantly popular. I remember one time at a BYU merit badge pow-wow, a schoolmate from Farrer Middle School told everyone he was from California. I called him on it and he shushed me. He knew he had a chance to make an impression on strangers, so told the one lie guaranteed to get him some respect.
Another time a friend invited me to go with him to meet up with an old buddy who used to live in Utah, but had moved to California. This friend of his was staying in some low-rent student housing for a week during a church-sponsored youth program. You should have seen my swelled head when I told my scout leaders I was ducking out early to meet up with some dudes from California.
One thing all the cool kids did in order to associate themselved with California was wear In-N-Out shirts. With respect to this phenomenon, there were the "haves" and the "have-nots." I was a "have-not." I initially thought the shirts were just made up. I didn't know there was an actual burger joint called In-N-Out. I thought it was just a trendy-shirt fad like the "Big Johnsons" shirts cool kids also wore.
All of this changed when as a High-School Junior I took a trip to Disneyland with the A Capella choir. We were going to sing at Bear Country or something, watch The Phantom of the Opera, shop some outlet stores, and eat at In-N-Out. When the choir director announced In-N-Out, people applauded. The rest was moderately exciting, but In-N-Out got everybody worked up. Every "have" turned to every "have-not" and with a special gleam in their eyes, extolled the virtues of the In-N-Out burger. At last my time had come! I would finally get to eat at In-N-Out and get a shirt to prove it! It would be like losing my virginity but without the guilt and subsequent therapy.
Well to make a long story short, talk about a disappointment. After all those years of wanting to belong to that exclusive club, I finally ate at In-N-Out, and you know what? It wasn't any better than Mickey D's. I was so disappointed I didn't even waste money on a T-shirt. Everybody else was feigning orgasms over the fries and shakes, but I knew they were faking it. Fast food is fast food, no matter what state you're in.
Every now and then I run across one of the In-N-Out kids I grew up with. They are all attorneys and high-rollers now. Magna-Cum-Groupies. Turds. All because they learned early on that they were better off if they affiliated themselves with people and places of higher social standing than Utah afforded them.
After reading this diatribe, you'll be surprised to know that at the Las Vegas High Rollers Scooter Weekend in February, I ate at In-N-Out burger for the second time in my life. I didn't go there for the food. Again, it was unparallelled in its mediocrity. I went there so I could spend around $40 on T-shirts for my kids.
After all, I want them to get into the best schools.