Minnesota is about to be overtaken by a bunch of out-of-towners.
By one estimate, more than a million people are expected to hit various game-related events in the Twin Cities leading up to the Super Bowl on Feb. 4. By another, it's only 125,000 visitors from outside the state. Whatever the number, it's going to be a lot of people. Some will be experienced pros who can tell Uptown from Lowertown. Others will be first-timers who never expected to set foot in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Minnesotans: Some of those folks will be sure to offend, whether it's by asking us how often we go cow-tipping or referring to the popular children's game as "Duck, Duck, Goose." (It's Duck, Duck, Gray Duck. Period.)
And that's where we come in, Eagles and Pats fans: Here are some dos and don'ts on how not to be a jerk while enjoying your stay in the North Star State. (And if you live here, feel free to send this along to those East Coast relatives who've just texted to ask if they can crash on your couch the first weekend of February.)
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Learn the lingo.
Around these parts, we call casseroles "hot dish," soda is "pop" and going "up north" doesn't necessarily mean north, it refers to going to the cabin or the lake, wherever that is.
Also worth noting:
• We're too passive-aggressive polite to say outright that something is dumb/a bad idea/we hate it so instead we use the vague "that's interesting." See also: "That's ... different."
• "budged" = cutting in line. Usage: "No budging!"
• "Come with?" as in "I'm going ice skating. Wanna come with?" sounds like we haven't finished our sentences, but we're just asking if you'd like to come along.
• "ope": Do not be alarmed by this sound — which, to the uninitiated, might sound a little bit like a yelp. It's just Minnesotans saying, "Excuse me, but I am in need of getting past you; please accept my apology for inconveniencing you; I hope you are doing well; thank you and have a nice day."
Take the last piece.
There's a law that says Minnesotans can never, ever, not in a million years, take the last piece of food.
Instead, we will halve everything — over, and over and over again — until nothing but a speck remains. And even then, we leave the speck. What if someone else wants it? Better to do the right thing and leave it.
So we need non-locals to do what we can't: Take the last piece. Thank you for making the sacrifice.
Compliment our fair state. Tell us how wonderful we are.
Who doesn't like a little flattery?
We're proud Minnesotans who delight in hearing how fabulous our state is — because we often feel like we get no respect (see: flyover, below). When you top as many lists as we do, doesn't matter which — Did you hear that our airport is one of the most punctual in the world? — you want the rest of the country to take notice.
So please, tell us you like us.
A word of caution: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. We get pretty indignant whenever anyone says anything less than flattering about us.
Anyone who walks up to native Minnesotans piling on the "you betchas" and the "don'tcha knows" is sure to get a side-eye or two because we do not all talk like ... whatever that was in the movie "Fargo."
Sure, we're fond of our vowels, especially our "Os," and yes, some of us do say "oh yah" but for the love of Ole and Lena, our accents are generally not that over-the-top. In fact, the film's dialect coach told two documentarians that the Coen brothers — Minnesota natives themselves — emphasized the accent in their original script, allowing for the dialect "to be almost another character."
Treat us like we're flyovers.
A good bit of America seems to think that just because we're sandwiched between Wisconsin and the Dakotas, right in the middle of the country, we're devoid of anything remotely resembling culture and/or a good time.
But check it — Minnesota is home to:
Six pro sports teams: The Vikings (football), Twins (baseball), Timberwolves (men's basketball), Lynx (Four-time women's basketball champs!), Wild (hockey) and United FC (soccer).
More than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, like Target, Best Buy and 3M.
The Mall of America, featuring an indoor theme park and a public aquarium.
A vibrant theater and music scene. Our Guthrie Theater and Children's Theatre Company have both won regional Tonys. And when it comes to the orchestra, take your pick: We've got the Minnesota Orchestra, plus those in St. Paul, Duluth, Mankato, Rochester and St. Cloud, to name a few.
Also, you're welcome for Prince, Bob Dylan and Husker Du.
Basically, what we're trying to say is that there's plenty to do, plenty to see, and we know what the internet is.
Use Minneapolis and St. Paul interchangeably. Or call everything Minneapolis.
Here's a clue that the Twin Cities are not the same city: They have different names.
And like other twins, they hate being mistaken for the other, because they have distinct personalities. Some see it this way: Minneapolis — the state's largest city — is hipper but somewhat elitist, while St. Paul — the capital city — is more laid-back but with a bit of little-brother complex.
Here's a quick guide for where you are: The Super Bowl will be played in Minneapolis. If you head over to the ice palace at the Winter Carnival or check out the Minnesota State Capitol building, you're in St. Paul.
And if you go to the Mall of America, you're not in Minneapolis or St. Paul. You're in Bloomington.
Whine about the weather
What'd you expect? We're a northern state and it's the middle of winter. The average high temperature for Feb. 4 in the Twin Cities is 26 degrees; the average low is 9. So yes, it's cold (though, actually, a Minnesotan would tell you 26 degrees is balmy). Yes, we choose to live here. And yes, we love it.
Put on a coat and move on. If you didn't pack a coat...