Minnesota Nice is our cultural identity. It means we have an ingrained aversion to confrontation, we avoid drawing attention to ourselves, and we prefer not to make a fuss. Minnesotans can feign a pleasant demeanor and cheerful attitude even during the most challenging circumstances. Feel like bragging about yourself? In the mood for an argument? Well, keep it under wraps because, gosh darnit — you’re making us uncomfortable.
We know that the rest of humanity plays “Duck, Duck, Goose,” so it’s bewildering that Minnesota seems to be the only state that got the memo that it’s actually “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.” Collectively, we know our way is better, even if we may never outwardly brag about it. Our way requires more skillful ears. Plus, there’s infinite opportunities for clever trickery–”Duck, duck, duck, grrrr……oss duck! Ahaha, sucka!” Bottom line: Gray ducks are epic, geese are lame.
“Wouldja like some more?”
“No, thank you.”
“Are yah sure?”
“Oh yah, I’m okay fer now.”
“Ders a lot left!”
“I don’t wanna trouble yah.”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake! Have some more!”
“Oh, sure. If you insist!”
Though dubbed “The Twin Cities,” these two cities are far from identical. Ask any Minnesotan and they’ll tell you that the 612 and 651 are more like rival siblings than twins. We have a saying here: date Minneapolis, marry St. Paul.
Do we have an accent? You betcha. Is Fargo in Minnesota? No.
Um, turn down for what?! What the rest of the world calls casserole, we call hotdish. Tatertot hotdish, wild rice hotdish, tuna noodle hotdish—we love it all. And it doesn’t stop there. Our regional delicacies include bars (cookie baked in a casserole dish), Jell-O salad, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, lutefisk, and our pride and joy: The Juicy Lucy—a hamburger with cheese melted inside the patty.
Wrong. Sarah Palin sounds like us. No offense to the former vice-presidential nominee, but we wrote the book on folksy lingo. Literally. How to Talk Minnesotan is a book that imparts our regional pronunciation and colloquialisms on how to be indirect, evoke ambiguity, and engineer lengthy conversations around the weather. Apart from looooonng vowels, we also have myriad expressions and words that you won’t find anywhere else, like “Yah, you betcha,” “Dontcha know,” “Oh, for cute!” or “Uff da,” as in, “Uff da! Dis winter sure bin a heckuva cold one, dontchaknow!”
If you’re brave enough to claim your allegiance to the Green Bay Packers, say goodbye to Minnesota Nice. The Cold War-esque rivalry between the Packers and Vikings dates back nearly 55 years and the tension has only worsened with time.
Reference any affiliation to Wisconsin and prepare to face the burning rage of a thousand suns. There’s nothing worse you can say to a Minnesotan than, “Minnesota and Wisconsin, same thing, right?” No. Just no. Same goes for telling us we’re “basically Canada.”
The Minnesota Long Goodbye is a staple of our culture. So as not to appear rude, you must linger and drag on polite conversation.
The goodbye begins at the dinner table, as you’re polishing off the last morsels of hotdish left on your plate (you’re full, but you wouldn’t want to be rude! Must. Keep. Eating. Smiling. Agreeing.) You start to pepper in subtle hints to foreshadow your impending departure. Perhaps it’s a quick glance at your watch or a calculated yawn. Your host offers you coffee. You politely decline. You decline again. THREE TIMES YOU DECLINE. You accept the coffee. You sip your coffee while discussing next week’s weather forecast. Another hour passes. Your host offers you leftovers to bring home. You politely decline. You decline again. THREE TIMES YOU DECLINE. You accept the leftovers. You discuss cars and Tupperware. You make your way to the door and begin putting on your layers of polar-vortex garb. You analyze last week’s weather. You casually open the door with a sense of certainty (departure is imminent!). Your host escorts you to your car, during which a conversation on snow tires and deer overpopulation commences. Resting one arm on the frame of your car door and the other holding your now-freezing leftovers, you exchange a few Sven and Ole joke for good measure. Finally, you’re in your car. You roll down the window to continue chatting about next week’s church potluck as you slowly begin to back out of the driveway. Once you’re in the street, waving goodbye from the open window, you’re finally on your way home.
Anything less and you’ve offended your Minnesotan host. Well done.
This article was originally published on March 4, 2015.