By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

The Long Minnesota Goodbye

Wick's World

 


I heard a song the other day on one of the Twin Cites alternative radio stations. I was quite amused and intrigued. One of the first things my wife and I noticed when we first moved to northern Minnesota some forty-odd years ago was that Minnesotans can take FOREVER to say goodbye. Prior to becoming neighbors to the Canadian Royal Mounties to the north of us, Cheeseheads to south, and Iowgians to the east, we had lived with laid-back South Dakotans, and more recently several years in the state that feels like another country, Texas.

Goodbye in Texas was easy: “Bye ya’ll”

It was not much harder in South Dakota. Both my friends and I still end a reception with “See ya later.”

As you leave, a Minnesotan has to offer you food, often leftovers or miscellaneous “extra food. It deteriorates from there.

Next comes a song or worse yet, they will read you a poem. Once they have you there, you find yourself listening to their five-year-old play a piano recital. On your way out, you’ll be offered food from the fridge and pantry.

Do you wonder how and why this happened to our state?

Well, here’s what I think about the subject. The Long Minnesota Goodbye got its start long ago. Shortly after we moved here, we noticed that winter set in quite early in the year. The gatherings and parties we attended slowly began to move indoors. When it was time for people to leave the party, it would be so cold outside that everyone basically had to live by this rule; always warm up your vehicle. Minnesota tough guys and a few cold-weather freaks were the exception to this rule.


This is what I think is the key to the origin of The Long Minnesota Goodbye. Guests got used to loitering around until their vehicles were warm. Hosts got used to entertaining guests who were stranded in house-party limbo. The easiest way to entertain was for the hosts to keep the party going. This version of goodbyes eventually spilled into spring, summer and fall until The Long Minnesota Goodbye became intrenched in the verbal lexicon of our state.

Z-Rock 107.7 FM, a Rochester radio station, has these suggestions from a Texas couple who were visiting distant relatives on how they manage to avoid The Long Minnesota Goodbye: “I need to go to the bathroom!” or “My tater hot dish is burning!” and the best one, fake a call on your cellphone! It works every time.

And finally, this is the song that first caught my attention to this phenomenon. It’s called “Are You Minnesotan Enough?” written by Carolyn Swiszc. She sings: “There's a sorcery spell in the Minnesota wind that makes us want to linger and visit with each other just a little bit longer tonight. Like a magical pothole, we got stuck, I haven't quite left your potluck – which reminds me of another important thing I have to say...”

Remember that you are a part of Minnesota Nice. Personally, I feel that is one of the reasons The Long Minnesota Goodbye was so easy to plant in our population. You put the leftover hot dish and bag of extra lutefisk in the car. You hurry up and jump in. Your hosts will immediately appear at each front door and rest their arms on the window. Pretend that there is a message on your voicemail.

The next time you hang out with this crowd, be sure to change it up. Use your house, or better yet your kids, to fill in the blanks for the next emergency.

Or you can accept it and became an adopted Minnesotan. We did. It was easy and fun and we soon became one of them.

And we’re always sure to clean out old leftovers from our refrigerator.

“Mabel, take this mushroom hot dish. I know Harry loves it and I think its’s probably still good.”

“Yah, you betcha.”

 

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