It has been over one year since I started this blog about the trials and foibles and delights of moving from California to Minnesota. Of one thing I’m now certain – there really, truly are differences between the two “lands” and this morning in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune, Mike Wolffe (a fellow immigrant) had me hooting in appreciation in a piece entitled “Pleased To Make Your Acquaintance.” I’m reprinting it here on Snowbirdredux because Mike says it so well:
“I’d like to share a few of the valuable lessons I’ve learned in the past four years as a naive immigrant to your beautiful country (yes, Californians think of Minnesota as a foreign land):
*Nobody here uses snow chains. No matter how bald the tires, no matter how icy the roads, I have yet to see a single Minnesota car with chains on its wheels. By comparison, I kept a set of chains in my SUV when I was living in Los Angeles. Why would I do something like that in the land of sunshine? Because when it snows in the mountains and the crowds head up to the local ski resorts, the authorities actually stop traffic and force everyone to put on chains if they want to continue up the mountain. Since the authorities took snow and ice that seriously in southern California, I assumed that Minnesotans must spend the entire winter driving around with chains on their tires, even if all they’re doing is heading to the nearest Culver’s.
*The fast food rocks here. Culver’s ButterBurgers, where have you been all my life? Potbelly, can you ever forgive me for thinking other sandwich chains had decent subs? Taco John’s, I would still love you for your tacos if you stopped making Potato Oles – but please don’t stop making Potato Oles. Southern Californians may brag about In-N-Out, but I’ll take these three bad boys anytime.
*Target stores are not a big deal in southern California, but here they are a way of life. Evidently, by law there must be a Target within five miles of every residence. Minnesota Public Radio announces the stock price hourly. To speak ill of Target is to blaspheme.
*Liquor stores are closed on Sundays. What’s wrong with you people? Why do you hate capitalism?
*Meat raffles exist. The phrase “meat raffle” sounds like a bad joke to my non-native ears. Perhaps I just don’t understand the awesomeness of winning a platter of raw meat at a dive bar.
*”Minnesota Nice” also exists. However, whenever I mention this to Minnesotans, they invariably tell me they’ve been to California and the people there were soooo sweet. My conclusion: Yes, Minnesotans are nice; they’re also a small and homogenous group. There are 5 million nice people in California, too, but they’re surrounded by 32 million rude people. If you turned Minnesota into a giant salt shaker and sprinkled its citizens all over France, you’d get California.
*No one here cares about celebrities. I came to Minnesota totally prepared to namedrop the B-list actors I had randomly encountered in Los Angeles. Crispin Glover ran away from me at a museum. Maria Bello got mad at me in an elevator. Ed Begley Jr. mistook me for his friend in the middle of the street. But when I tell people I used to live in L.A., nobody bats an eye. Nobody asks what famous people I’ve seen. After 15 years of pretending I was too cool to care about celebrities, I’m rather disappointed I can’t share my stories about them. You people really don’t care.
I like it here. The freeways aren’t as crowded; the air isn’t so yellow, and the wild animals are actually animals. I do get homesick for real topography – mountains, deserts, coastline – but overall this is a fine country to live in and raise a family. I plan to apply for citizenship as soon as I figure out what “uff da” means.”
Here’s to Minnesota. And I know what uff da means!