I just found out that four out of my four friends routinely have fancy-pants juice whenever they want it.

I had to explain to them that fancy-pants juice is that expensive bottled juice you get that you don’t have to beat with a wooden spoon before you drink it.

My mother used to make the kind of concentrate juice that you had to plop in a pitcher, add water and repeatedly stab with a wooden spoon before it was drinkable. We were never allowed unlimited drinking rights, however. Now as a grown-up, I can only have fancy-pants juice on special occasions, but never did I imagine that there were people I know who drink such beverages at will.

It’s making me suspicious. Something is up. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt like I was in my own “Truman Show” where everyone was in on something that was being kept from me.

Why is it that when I take a day off from work and go out to go shopping, the parking lots are full of people? Is it possible that 47 percent of all the people I know spend their days out buying toys and fancy-pants juice and never have to go to work and get job evaluations?

One of my four friends told me just tonight that he would be flying to Cancun for vacation. Why is it that everyone I know goes to Hawaii, Cancun, Tahiti or the Bahamas? I live in Logan but have to vacation in Salt Lake City. Sure, it’s fun with the wide streets, the car races they hold on the interstate, and the liberal bumper stickers — but it’s still not like going to Maui.

Something isn’t right here.

And what about the movies? We usually do get to take in a couple of the intellectual blockbuster hits that come out each summer. We will see, for example, the upcoming movie about Star Trek people being afraid of the dark and maybe even Iron Maiden III. But who is going to see all those other important depressing movies, the ones that have so much talking and plot in them that they win Academy Awards? Not us. We can’t afford it.

I once went to the movies with a friend who owns a big house and he bought Buckets O’ Fun Popcorn and giganto sodas and Raisinets. (He would have been arrested in New York.)

I can only remember doing that once, and it was an embarrassing experience. This person I thought was a friend was working the counter at a movie theater, so I went over to order popcorn and a drink from her. She told me, with a wink, that for just 40 cents more, I could get a popcorn, two giant refillable drinks and a tub of butter for dipping if I was willing to pay just $2 for some family-sized malted milk balls and the usual price for those red-hot things you chew and drop on the floor.

No matter what I agreed to, I was just 40 cents away from a smart, awesome refreshment package. By the time she was done with me, she had to send two movie house employees with me just to haul my bargain loot to our seats. My wife was not impressed.

I’m always making fun of Amway because I joined once as a teenager and never got enough down-line people to get me the motor home that I needed back then. In fact, I didn’t win over one single follower. It made me sort of bitter. What if everyone I know is deep into Amway and they just aren’t telling me because they think I have a bad attitude?

It’s true that later in my adult life, I was invited to a “business opportunity” that turned out to be an Amway meeting and they asked me where I wanted to be in five years and I said: “I’m so glad you ask that because I have such specific goals. In five years, I want to live and talk and walk as Gandhi did. I want to have no earthly possessions and feel the earth beneath my bare feet as I serve those in need.”

They were not amused.

Once I was invited to a multi-level phone magnet networking company. When the leader finished his pitch, he asked, “Is there anyone here who does not want to take advantage of this incredible opportunity?”

I raised my hand. He asked me why.

“Well, it sounds pretty promising,” I said, “but I sort of walked away from a prison work detail last week and I’m just not sure how much time I’ll have to consecrate to a business like this.”

True story. The person who invited me showed up late and was not there to explain what was wrong with me. No one knew me. After that “incident,” I was not invited back and suddenly no one was trying to talk me into becoming one of them.

Maybe that’s the problem. Clearly I’m not “one of them.” I understand about secrets. (My family is always asking me to act like I don’t know them when we are in public together. It’s like being a spy, they tell me.) I just wish someone would share their fancy-pants juice with me.

My bare feet are killing me and I can hear sirens in the distance.

Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. He can be reached at [email protected]