15 February 2016

In Search of Taillights, Elephants and the Ugly Patrols

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley (C) 2016

Just when we were talking about taking an early Spring driving trip out here in the Far West, news arrived that a state representative from Missoula, Montana has introduced House Bill 365, which as I understand it, means yoga pants will be illegal to wear there, along with other garments that reveal too much of one’s anatomy.

At this stage of my life, I’m into covering up as much as possible, but I do resent being told that I can’t pack my yoga pants if I am going to or through the Treasure state.

I also discovered that in Montana it is illegal for married women to go fishing alone on Sundays, and it is illegal for unmarried women to fish alone at all. That does it. Scratch “the Big Sky Country” off my list.

Having spent some of my early life in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, I am aware that there are some silly laws on the books in those states. State lawmakers have way too much idle time in my humble opinion. How else can you explain that Kansas actually has laws on the books that:
  •  Ban shooting rabbits from motorboats. I never saw a rabbit anywhere near the water when I lived there; and actually never saw any water on which motorboats could cruise in those wheat fields either.
  • Require pedestrians crossing the highways at night to wear taillights. Really? Have you seen any taillights for humans lately? Do they come in various sizes and styles? How do you wear them? Will they go with my vacation wardrobe and look good with my yoga pants?
In Oklahoma, it is against the law to:
• Wear your boots to bed. I bet my granny was behind that one.
• Be tattooed. Probably lots of lawbreakers roaming the Sooner state now.
• Read comic books while operating a motor vehicle (guess texting and using smart phones are OK though — along with fracking.)
• In Tulsa, you can’t take elephants into the downtown area. No problem. My elephants never had any hankering to go there anyway.

Texas ranks up near the top with crazy laws and I was lucky to escape from the Lone Star state before getting arrested. I had no idea I was breaking the law by consulting the Encyclopedia Britannia. The entire set is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home. Imagine that. Now you can just Google “beer making” until the Texas Rangers catch you.

• It is also illegal to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel. Always stay on the ground floor, on three, or above— if you’re into buffalo shooting. Problem solved.
• It is against the law to milk another person’s cow, too. Somehow, this activity has never come up — probably because I buy my milk at the supermarket and quit milking any cows when I left Oklahoma. 
Down in Houston it is illegal to sell Limburger cheese on Sunday. Dad would not have liked that one bit. He was against any restrictions on cheeses. Over in Texarkana, you can’t ride horses at night without taillights. What is it with all the taillight laws?

When I moved to the West Coast, I thought I had escaped from the crazy laws, but I was wrong.
California has almost as many as Texas, including:
• Women cannot drive in their housecoats. Really? I didn’t know there was a dress code for drivers — or is it just for women?
• Toads may not be licked in Los Angeles. Anyone seen the Toad Police? Now that’s an ugly job.
• Women can’t wear high heels in the city limits of Carmel, but guys can.
• In San Diego, it is illegal to shoot jackrabbits from the back of a streetcar. What is it with all the laws about shooting rabbits?
• In San Francisco, if you are classified as “ugly” you can’t walk down any street. Only place I know of that has “ugly” police patrols. Do you have to carry an “ugly” ID card?
• You better keep your elephants on a leash if they are going to stroll down Market Street in San Francisco. I had no idea we have so many elephant problems in this country.

Utah also has its share of goofy laws too, including:
• It is illegal not to drink milk. Watch out for the milk police in the Beehive state.
• It also is illegal to fish from horseback. Well, there goes my vacation fun.
• When a person reaches the age of 50, he/she can then marry their cousin. But, the law doesn’t specify which cousin or the degree of closeness — first, second, or thrice-removed? The genealogists let that law slip through.
• In Salt Lake City, you can’t walk down the street carrying a paper bag containing a violin. Evidently, tote bags and backpacks are OK though — and violas.

In Nevada, where one would expect some crazy laws, it is illegal to drive a camel on the highway. Says nothing about elephants though.
• Out in Elko if you are walking the streets, you are required to wear a mask. (Note to self: Better pack masks to use while in the Silver state.)

Arizona has more than its share of weird laws, including one that forbids donkeys to sleep in bathtubs. Now, just where can one let one’s ass sleep?
• In Tucson, women may not wear pants. The brilliant lawmakers neglected to specify whether these are under or outer pants, so ladies, wear any at your own risk.

In Oregon, whose state universities’ mascots are Ducks and Beavers — a place where you’d think some reasonable lawmakers exist — I discovered that
• You can’t eat ice cream on Sundays. Well, I’ve broken that law more times that I care to count.
• Dishes must drip dry (what moronic lawmaker came up with that idea?)
• You can’t bathe without wearing “suitable clothing,” i.e., that which covers one’s body from neck to knee. Are they going to be checking in my bathroom? I think not.
• In Klamath Falls, it is illegal to walk down a sidewalk and knock a snake’s head off with your cane. Pity.

Washington, my adopted home state, has a few strange laws on the books too. In the Evergreen state, it is against the law to:
• Buy a mattress anywhere on Sunday or to buy a TV in Spokane -- on that day.
• Pretend that one’s parents are rich. That’s never been a problem for me.
• In Bremerton, you can’t shuck peanuts on the street. Maybe that’s to protect the seagulls who are allergic. Why don't those birds just wear ID bracelets like the rest of us?
• In Seattle, you may not carry a concealed weapon that is over six feet in length. (You have to realize how much Viking blood runs through Seattle pioneers to appreciate this law).
• In Wilbur, it is against the law to ride an ugly horse. The ugly police are everywhere out West. So watch out which horse you pick to ride — if you are ever in Lincoln County.

So, if you’re going to vacation out West this year, watch for all the ugly patrols, rabbits, and elephants — and don’t forget to turn your personal taillights on. I hope Costco has some of the latter and that they match my vacation attire, especially my yoga pants.