Provo is bracing for a fight. A beer fight.
With the Winter Olympics coming to town in just over 500 days, Provoans are having a hard time deciding how to play host to those beer-drinking residents of the world who actually care about the 2002 ice sheet events slated for Provo. Those Olympic visitors will quickly learn a few things: 1. Mount Timpanogos provides a scenic backdrop with few equals anywhere, serving notice that this is indeed God’s country; 2. Utah Lake no longer harbors its once abundant native trout, serving notice that Utah County residents generally are not very good stewards of God’s earth; and 3. Provo lies between the two.
Provo (and by extension, all of Utah County) is a picture of dichotomy. It prides itself rightfully as the home of a true “world” university, the polyglot campus of BYU—it’s ground central for English-only ballot initiatives. It prides itself in sustaining moral stability in an immoral world—it turns its back on an ugly underbelly of meth labs, underage pregnancies and spousal abuse. It buried Rodin’s sensual statue, “The Kiss,” in a basement—it spawned the misogynist movie director Neil LaBute.
The current debate in Provo these days is whether to allow beer sales during the Olympics at the city’s new ice sheet arena. Of course they shouldn’t. Provo is what Provo is, and Provo does not want to be known for serving beer. Bully for them. The world should see Provo exactly for what it is—a bastion of guilt, insecurity and hypocrisy—without the intoxicating influence of a 12-ounce, 3.2 beer. Isn’t that why we invited the world here in the first place? To show off? Come 2002, all the world can see that Provo has a pot full of problems, none of which its pious residents can substantively trace to drinking alcohol.
What’s maddening about Provo’s little debate is not that beer might be served there during the Olympics, it’s that some Provoans engage in cliché-speak when it comes to alcohol. One of the news stations interviewed two such models of edification. One fearfully exclaimed, “Alcohol destroys families,” while the other moaned that, “Allowing beer sales is like a slippery slope. Where will it end?” Indeed, Donny and Marie. Meanwhile, wake up and smell the smokestack in your own back yard. If you don’t want beer in Provo, don’t sell it—but don’t make up some lame attribution more fitted to a fireside lecture.
We suggest a compromise—ban the beer, but sell tequila-filled Jell-O shooters. No one will ever know. Perfect for head-in-the-sand Provo.