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News

Performing the Ritual

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Looking down on the rest of the world from high atop the City Weekly Tower on 400 South between Main and West Temple, it’s difficult at times to decide which insignificant human we should prey upon next. We spend endless hours debating whose career we should sidetrack. We revel in the notion that we never have to say anything good about anybody or anything at anytime.

This week is an exception.

Recently an unsung restaurant manager in Austin, Texas, did the unthinkable by ratting on President Bush’s underage twin daughters for trying to buy cocktails. That was absolutely brave and heroic. These days, not only do too many people not know right from wrong, but a whole bunch of people—mostly politicians, mostly Republican (in Utah, anyway)—actually profit from doing the wrong thing.

It would have been wrong for the Chuy’s restaurant manager not to call in the cops. And it would be equally wrong for the media not to report about it, despite the fact that conservative pundits, liberal apologists and conspiracy-addled letters-to-the-editor writers say the opposite. The bottom line is that Jenna and Barbara Bush, ages 19, tried to buy drinks in Texas, where the legal drinking age is 21. This is Jenna’s second offense in a month. What would Judge Roy Bean do?

An article on salon.com quoted a San Francisco psychiatrist as saying that the Bush twins’ actions were just a part of the risk-taking ritual that adolescents go through in order to grow into adults. In full disclosure then, my friends and I performed that ritual hundreds of times before we were 21. We’d buy liquor anywhere from anyone who would sell it to us. Kenny Coombs and Junior Montoya were good at getting kegs. Shelly Holt had a friend who sold beer to go out of a store on State Street. Jan Kendrick had been shaving since 6th grade, so he could get it all the time. Kevin Hamilton had money and Jeff Tibolla had an older brother.

You could say we were just taking part in the “risk-taking ritual to adulthood.” One night there was a kegger in Big Cottonwood. Most of us stayed away. Peter Lucero didn’t and he missed the curve below Storm Mountain. He never saw adulthood. Peter was a good guy—too good to be found upside down and dead in Big Cottonwood Creek. If someone had acted like Chuy’s manager, Peter might still be alive.

But whoever sold the beer never called the cops. Politicians and the media never made a big deal of it. Then again, why would they? With no political hay to be made from the death of a Mexican kid from Bingham High School, there wasn’t much to say. Except, goodbye.