"Minnesota fun?"

"Our state bird"

   In the movie “Fargo”, the most memorable part is the heavy Minnesota accent spoken by the players in the film. This accent is a slight exaggeration of the traditional Scandinavian flavored tongue. Though that heavy accent is now pretty much relegated to an older generation and only in areas of “outstate Minnesota” and parts of Northeast Minneapolis, it is still around. “Ya tink ya seen it over dere?” The question is;”You think you saw it over there?” We also talk a little faster than other people in the country, including singing. Go to sports events around the U.S. and time the singing of the national anthem. Then time the same song in Minnesota. You’ll notice we shave a few seconds off! We have a terrible tendency to end sentences with prepositions, “Where’s he at?”, instead of “Where is he?” We mix up time tenses of words, “run for ran”, “seen for saw”, etc. Here’s a famous quote from a radio call-in show in Brainard. The show host calls random people and asks them to guess the amount of money in the jackpot. After the callee guessed the amount to be a pair of “choppers”(mittens, for you non-Minnesotans), the host reminded him to guess a dollar amount, to which he responded;”Seventeen dollars!, how’s that?” The host, Ken Thomas, told him the correct amount was $400 and the callee responded with;”oh ya, that’s a lot of money”. Before ending the call, the callee chimed in; “I was out back choppin’ wood, I heard the phone ring so I run!” Anyway you get the gist that we Minnesotans are a funny bunch, ya know!

    I was born and raised to age 12 in Alexandria Minnesota. What a great time and place to be a little kid in America. Alexandria is a smaller town out in West-central Minnesota. Mostly Scandinavian and Germanic ancestry. You still hear “dat tick scandihoovian” accent in Alex. The Alex natives are a very hard-working people. They work hard and work hard into late life. I made a comment a few years ago to a friend of mine there that it seemed like all the old men limped around, stooped over, hands are gnarled up, but still in their work coveralls. She told me they worked hard their whole life and their bodies just get beat up and worn out, but yet, they keep plugging along. There is a reason Minnesota natives are sought by employers from around the world. We, in general, were raised with a real work ethic.

    Minnesotans aren’t really known to put on “airs” for anybody. We tend to be pretty blunt. You take us for who we are. We are smart, the butchering of english not withstanding, we always rank at or near the top in the country for literacy, graduation rates, and percentage of kids going on to college. We are the only state in the country I know of where grossly overweight women wear sleeveless tops to expose the huge flabby arms jiggling freely. Our chubbier gals also like to wear stretchy polyester pants. Of course, they are so tight you get to see the cellulite situation going on underneath! The men of Minnesota aren’t exactly fashion plates either. Getting “dressed up” for attending a funeral or wedding generally means a button down short sleeve shirt and pressed blue jeans. The overweight guys like me, usually suffer from the heart ache of “noassitol”. Every time we bend over, we shoot a moon to the people behind us. Very attractive! In Minnesota we have the only tie wearing businessmen in the world that wear short sleeve dress shirts. Again, we don’t care, we like comfort!

   We live a long time in Minnesota. Usually, only Hawaii ranks higher than Minnesota in life expectancy. I can’t figure out why. I see a population of grossly overweight people, heavy drinkers, and one of the higher teen smoker states in the country. As my pure Norwegian mother used to say, “it must be these good Norwegian genes!”  Some people speculate the cold climate keeps the germs and riff-raff out. There might be something to that but, most Minnesotans, if they’re smart, stay indoors and warm for those ten months a year it’s too cold to be outside.

  Ever heard the term “Minnesota nice”? It’s only true if they know you. Minnesotans tend to be staid and stand-offish toward people they don’t know. Now, once they know you, they are very friendly. You need to earn their trust and friendship. Minnesotans a very generous with their time and money. We are the leading state in the country in terms of volunteerism. Our wealthy folks are strong philanthropists. Minnesota has more millionaires per capita than any other state, and they tend to be very generous in their giving.

   Minnesota used to have a very proud tradition of progressive politics. We were for generations, the leader in progressive legislation, philosophy, and liberal kindness. We have a rich history of great leaders, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Orville Freeman, Floyd B. Olson, Arnie Carlson, Karl Rolvaag, Paul Wellstone, Wendell Anderson, to name a few. In the past few years though, we have hit some clunkers. Norm Coleman, Tim Pawlenty, Allan Quist, Michele Bachman, John Kline, and Colin Peterson. Hopefully, someday the state will return to its intelligent progressive political roots. We need to get back to Minnesotans watching out for the well-being of Minnesotans.

   In conclusion, we Minnesotans are a funny bunch. We are independent, don’t really care what others think of us, we don’t try to be fashion and fitness models, we’re smart, we’re healthy, and used to be solidly behind a progressive society, but we’ll get back to that after the wing-nuts have fizzled out. I love being a Minnesotan, I hate living in Minnesota. The winters are too long and harsh, the summers are great if you’re a mosquito, and the people simply do not know how to drive. I am a proud Norwegian-American and Minnesotan, who still lives here twelve months a year! Thank you and “SKOL!”

Cam Obert


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