My mother volunteered to take Leta Friday night and keep her through the following afternoon so that Jon and I could have an evening out and go snowboarding. This happens somewhat frequently, and it is at the top of the list of reasons that we love living here. I get asked that a lot, how in God’s name can we stand to live in Utah, and I imagine that when they write out that word — Utah — that they are as repulsed as if eating a bowl of herpes.
But the truth is that there are far more things we like about living here than there are things that make us wonder whether or not we had been lobotomized when we made the decision to move back. Those thoughts usually occur when we’re watching the local news, when one of the anchors cannot contain his fuming indignation at the injustices of this world, very important injustices like the fact that there might actually be a trace amount of caffeine in his decaffeinated coffee I AM NOT EVEN MAKING THIS UP. A future investigative report is sure to expose the mortal danger of standing next to a man who has ever seen another man’s penis. Because you know The Gay is contagious.
We love our neighborhood, its old brick bungalows, its giant mature oak trees. Winters are long and cold, but the summers here are far better than any other place I’ve lived, and some of my greatest memories of life are of the early summer evenings we spend on the porch watching the sun sink vertically behind the harsh line of triangular Tudor roofs. We can live here comfortably, albeit modestly, especially during this phase of our lives when we are trying to raise a family. If I were still a single 25-year-old I might have a different take on Salt Lake, but you know, I’m not, and in the past four years I have cut in half the number of times I have needed to show up to a bar without my panties on.
Friday night after my mother drove off with Leta — who, they report, went hysterical when they suggested that they were going to Grandmommy’s home, as the word home has only one meaning, that awful place where the servants are ungrateful and slow, and not until they corrected themselves and referred to it as Grandmommy’s house did Leta take the shotgun out of her mouth — we headed downtown to our favorite sushi restaurant, one whose head chef was raised in Peru. Jon and I love the same things on the menu, so we ordered our usual list of rolls and whatnot including the T & T, a dish with a distinct South American flair in that it comes with a dipping sauce made from tomatillos and peppers. Is that not genius? Combining two of the greatest foods on Earth, Japanese and salsa? It’s like buying a bottle of bourbon that comes with a free butt massage.
Usually the T & T is spicy enough that I have to be careful when I am dunking the roll so that I don’t go crazy and treat it like a biscuit and gravy. And I’m usually okay with spicy foods, I like them here and there, I appreciate how afterward it makes me feel like I could lift a school bus with one hand. But this particular batch was so irrationally spicy that it made me blackout for over five seconds. I couldn’t tell whether or not Jon was experiencing the same paralyzing misery, and not wanting to make a scene I just sat there with my eyes closed and practiced the same repetitive breathing I used during the first few hours of labor. And while I’m not directly comparing that sushi roll to the pain of labor — I have given birth, and so I know how offensive it is to compare anything to the pain of labor, like say a toothache, although I’m pretty sure HE WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN — I am saying that it approached that level of pain, that I would have asked for an epidural if they had offered one on the menu.
Jon tried not to laugh, and then after I dared him to, he ate two pieces of the roll that I had completely saturated with the tomatillo sauce. And then sat there perfectly still as if his tongue wasn’t about to fall off. It was infuriating, if not a little sexy, because you just know that a man who can withstand that kind of pain is going to be able to install anything you buy off ebay. And that should be near the top of the list of things you’re looking for in a man, right behind LOOKS GOOD IN A POLKA DOT THONG.