Hush, hush, Provo culture

I’m not a Provo hater. In fact, I honestly think it can be a pleasant place to visit. It’s just very, very different from anywhere else I’ve ever been.

I had the opportunity to spend some time down in Utah County last weekend with my girlfriend, and the feeling of “not being in Kansas anymore” swept over us rapidly when we pulled into Provo.

I have some friends who live in Provo, so I head down there a few times a year. Every time I do, this same strange feeling comes over me. Even in my early collegiate life as a student there I’ve felt this way.

Although Provo is only a 45-minute drive from the U, when you arrive there you feel as though you’ve entered another country-that or the twilight zone.

It’s not any one thing that makes Provo so unusual, but rather mixtures of elements combining to make what some people call the “Happy Valley.” Sadly, many of these elements can’t even be explained. They just exist.

One reason it may be such a “Happy Valley” is because of the ice cream that is inhaled by the people living there.

We stopped by the Creamery on Ninth, a little BYU grocery store/ice cream parlor, at about 9:30 p.m. last Saturday and found out just how crazy people can be about their ice cream.

Just making our way into the parking lot was a challenge in itself. We had to dodge numerous cars that were swerving wildly to squeeze their way closer to the opportunity of eating ice cream, even at the cost of cutting off oncoming traffic. But, hey, it IS ice cream. And not just any ice cream-Provo-made ice cream. Apparently, it’s worth the risk of a major automobile accident.

As chaotic as I thought battling our way into the parking lot was, the store was even more cluttered. Every seat was full in the ice cream parlor, and there was a line of about 30 people anxiously waiting to be served.

We made our way to the back of the store where they sell ice cream in half-gallons, and it too was surrounded by hoards of young adults-mostly women. In fact, it seemed like all there was in the store were women from the age of 18 to 21.

Before going to the store, we saw other strange cultural oddities. We’d see happy couples enjoying the night together, but with one male friend at their side. It was always an extra guy, and the couple didn’t seem to mind his tagging along.

We first saw it when we were on a walking path along the Provo River. Where it usually would be a nice place to go for a little private walk, here was a couple with their buddy walking alongside like a proud puppy.

We saw similar-looking situations outside the student recreation center and again at the ice cream store. Whether the guys needed a little extra support, traded off being with the girl or just liked having an extra guy along for the date, I don’t know. Maybe there’s nothing else to do or maybe it’s a new honor code stipulation.

Weird, huh? It made me want to make sure my roommates weren’t lurking in the shadows because they found out that was the new way of dating in Provo.

The other peculiar things were the typical things you’d see any time you visit Provo, but hardly anywhere else.

Things like knee-length shorts on the women, goofy date ideas, clean-shaved faces, masses of people walking with shirts and ties or dresses, people playing games on the sidewalks and streets and boots on about 10 percent of the cars.

Ah, yes, just another day in Provo. Days like these add a little flavor when singing the words, “A Utah man am I.”