Michael Aaron

High Drama

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I thought I’d get a little time by the pool.

Last week I took my mother down to the Chateau de Mesa — our highfalutin name I dubbed the pre-fab home in the mobile home park in Mesa, Ariz., where she and my father spend a bit of winter each year. Well, not each year, since they hadn’t been down there since 2007. In that time, a colony of termites decided to winter there in their absence. So, between arranging for a bug bomber, removing the skirting around the whole building and getting bids to replace it with vinyl, I had hoped there might be a day I could lounge by the pool with a margarita or nine.

It turns out our first day there was that day, and luckily we took it.

Rain set in and temperatures plummeted. It still beat the snow that was happening back here.

That Sunday night I checked my e-mails on the park’s super-fast-for-eeyore wi-fi connection and find a press release from a “Patriots for a Moral Utah.” They are going to introduce an initiative the next day at the state capitol. No more than that, just a “Fair Solution” to the “homosexual problem.”

I start my standard Sherlock Holmes-ing. What can I find from the e-mail address? Is there a person named Paul Jackson in Utah? Has he ever done anything worthy of being in the paper, on a blog, on MySpace, in an obituary, incarcerated?

Eeyore speed becomes no speed whatsoever as the connection goes down. This will have to wait ’til morning.

Nine a.m. comes and my phone is abuzz with texts. It seems the news release has reached the masses. I begin my research anew and arrange for someone to pay attention to the story from the office. JoSelle writes up a story about the fact a press conference is happening. Tony gets ready to go up and record and photograph it.

I find very little to go on. The e-mail address used was at least active in 2008, as I found a mention on an Xbox forum. There are several Paul Jacksons in the valley, but none had ever said or done boo before. I could find no Nora Young whatsoever. The nothing that I find is intriguing me.

Then comes the PDF of the actual initiative. Wow! Gays forced from the state. I laugh at the naive America Foreverer who thought they’d try to get this going. Of course it would go nowhere, but what an interesting ride it will be.

One o’clock chimes and my cell phone blings. Another text message — this time a tweet from Jesse Fruhwirth of Salt Lake City Weekly. He recognizes an organizer as a liberal activist. I laugh out loud at the brass that it would take to pull such a stunt. I decide to read the “initiative” in detail and see the brilliance of the action. I’m miffed I wasn’t there to see it … until I remembered the earlier snow storm.

I start getting the “call to arms” texts and Facebook messages and do what I can to calm them down, while at the same time trying to figure out who I know pulled this off. Rumors fly, but no one fesses up. In fact, the people I can are insistent this is the real McCoy, not drag queen theater. It was too detailed, too well-planned.

That was true.

Then Tony calls, laughing that he’d passed the press conference organizers in his car and they were laughing and … smoking. Smoking? Yup — a farce.

I decide to wait for the other shoe to drop. I’m thinking it will be some Capitol Steps-ish comedy troupe from the East Coast and they’ll announce their show the following weekend. But, no. Simply an acknowledgement in response to an angry Fruhwirth on his blog. I was disappointed.

But I got it. I got that I was beginning to buy hook-line-and-sinker the notion that some South Valley wingnut was trying to set up a transportation system to rid the state of homosexuals. I could see them levying fines on families who “harbor” gays.

My hats off to those who spent all the time and effort putting the action together. I, personally, would like to see more of this kind of stuff. I do, however, want a bit more planning put toward the “then what” once it’s done. What’s a sucker punch without a good body blow to finish it up?

Now that my column is done and the paper is off to the press, I guess I can grab a margarita or nine and soak in the hot tub back home on the deck. After all, it’s warmer here than my time in Arizona. Q

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