Sunday, May 20, 2007

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.


Martin said...

Hey try living on the west coast...but it not being California!!

I think you need to use that Rector connection more and move them up in the church.


AzĂșcar said...

I knew EXACTLY where you were going with your first paragraph. You couldn't have summed it up more perfectly. All those blonded boys with their In-N-Out t-shirts. It was the mark of cool.

Looking back on it, that really was silly.

compulsive writer said...

Great post. I recently walked into In-N-Out burger and took one look at the three-item menu (cheese, double cheese and something too nondescript to even remember) and walked back out. Oh well.

I grew up in Oregon where the motto was this: "Californians, Go Home!" But secretly we all thought boys from CA were hot.

~j. said...

Though I've only been here for a little less than eleven years, I've gotten the distinct impression that Salt Lake wants to be LA when it grows up, which has now been confirmed by you.

Great story.

spitzer said...

Wow, I thought that I was shunned in elementary school because I accidentally farted during an assembly. If I knew that all I needed was an in-n-out t-shirt I could have avoided some harsh ridicule.

Tiffany said...

Being from CA, I actually have to agree with the ridiculous-ness of all of this. When I visited my cousins in Idaho as a child everyone was crazy about me being from CA and would say, "talk! talk!" because they swore I had a CA accent. weird.

I am also bugged when college californians play the I'm too cool for UT game and dog on it. If you hate it so much, leave! Don't make fun of it.

Another annoyance is the CA-ians that play the 4 steps to where you are from game: Where are you from?
CA. Which part? southern. Which part? Orange county. Which part? Laguna Hills. Seriously.


On behalf of all californians, I am sorry.

AND I don't like In and Out fries. The burgers ARE better than Mickies though - FOR SURE.

John said...

Next time you go to In and Out, get your burger "animal style". I actually prefer their burgers, but the fries and shakes aren't anything to write home about.

They do treat their employees pretty well though. My sister-in-law worked there when she was in high school.

tiff-fay-fay said...

I can't stand that burger joint as I agree that it's total mediocrity at its best.

justin hileman said...

they make a mean grilled cheese.

but the fries are definitely crap.

ClistyB said...

I was a summer visitor to Utah from CA. Utah kids ALWAYS had the best hair, and clothes. No lie. Doc Martens were in UT long before we CA kids knew they were cool. Same with Z Cavaricci. I would beg my mom to school shop at Christensen's before we left for home.