I got a membership to the YMCA during my first months as an Idaho resident. My then husband and I were newlyweds and used to enjoy a dip in the pool after our workouts. We were just a couple of 21 year olds hanging out in the water. As young, newlyweds are supposed to do, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other, and we hugged and kissed in between laps. Nothing too flashy, I swear. Shortly after we got in, though, a lifeguard approached us and told us some people were offended by our public display of affection. Coming from a place like the Basque Country, where young people have really no choice but to show their love in bars, parks, street corners or cars (if they’re lucky), I was shocked to be told off for kissing my husband.
My first lesson in the puritan values that seem to dominate -at least on the surface- this part of the country.
Over the years I’ve grown accustomed to dealing with the conservative values in Idaho, mostly by surrounding myself with people that do not share them, thus creating some sort of social shield that’s helped my sanity quite a bit.
According to an article on Fox, “the U.S. has more laws regulating sexual behavior than all the European countries combined”. Why am I not surprised. Did you know that in Idaho you’re not allowed to engage in any type of public display of affection for more than 18 minutes? I guess that’s about how long it took the waiter at Pengilly’s last night to come over and scold my date and I for kissing in public. On a positive note, we should be thankful that we got away with a slap on the wrist; we could have gotten arrested!
We’ll play it safer next time and keep the pda under 17. Or go bar-hopping and get a whole hour while we sip our drinks.
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