Recently, in the course of making Christmas plans for our upcoming visit to Utah, my husband informed me that a member of his extended family considers it morally wrong to set foot in Starbucks, so if we go get the holiday raspberry brownies a couple of other family members enjoy, this first family member will not accompany us.
I grew up in Utah, but at this point I haven’t lived there in more than eleven years, so I suppose I’m hopelessly out of touch with local norms. And while I entertain all sorts of shocking ideas, I’m temperamentally cautious and disinclined to push behavioral boundaries. I understand avoiding tattoos and multiple piercings–I myself do–although I don’t consider them a very big deal and don’t particularly care if others sport them or not. I understand avoiding caffeinated soda, which seems like a perfectly reasonable personal health choice, even though I’m married to an addict and I never go to the grocery without picking up a six-pack or two. Although I’m a little alarmed by the draconian turn our modesty rhetoric has taken, I prefer modest dress, less out of scruple than out of an immense love of comfort and ease and a rather conservative sense of taste (such as it is).
Similarly, I understand staying out of bars and avoiding the atmosphere and behavior that often accompany excessive alcohol consumption. I’ve sometimes gone to a bar to attend an end-of-semester class gathering or to sample the best local bar food with a friend visiting from out of town. I go rarely, and I don’t linger past the point at which I’m no longer comfortable in the company. That’s where I draw the line for myself; I certainly respect others’ right to draw more stringent lines for themselves and stay out of bars altogether, particularly if alcohol poses them any kind of temptation.
But really, Starbucks? Starbucks, where I’ve done my visiting teaching, and which even the most conservative anti-birth-control mother-never-works-outside-the-home wants-twelve-children of my visiting teachees seemed to enjoy? Starbucks, where I’ve arranged to meet my Relief Society president to discuss church issues? Starbucks, where one might be exposed to all the degradation and horror of exhausted students studying for finals?
Is this normal in Utah, now? Is this normal anywhere? Please advise.