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Minnesota: Where Even The Criminals Are Practical

July 13, 2011
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Back in 1987, Howard Mohr wrote a funny little book that taught non natives of Minnesota how to talk like us. Howard Mohr’s How To Talk Minnesotan: A Visitor’s Guide was a bestseller here in the land of 10,000 lakes, though no one would ever admit to actually purchasing the book. We all borrowed it from someone who was from out of town. In his book he instructed people who were from the south, or either of the coasts, how to fit in while visiting this great north land. While teaching the fine art of using you betcha in a sentence he also illustrated how practical and understated we Minnesotans are.

In Minnesota we have a reason for doing everything. We are not fly by the seat of our pants people and most of our behavior is dictated by the weather. It’s either too hot or, more than likely, too cold in Minnesota to do what we want to do so we patiently wait until the seasons change to do that which we desire.

I ran across this article yesterday from Kare11.com and it struck me that while the story is rather ghastly it perfectly illustrates just how practical and understated Minnesotans are.

According to Kare11.com the remains of a missing woman were found buried under her home recently. Not really news anymore, we hear about this kind of thing everyday, sadly. What is a little different here is the reason she was murdered and how she was buried. Apparently Tamara Lee Mason, who was found buried on her own property, wanted to play Yahtzee with her three children over the winter holidays last December. The children did not want to play and after she got mad and stormed out, one of the boys strangled her and then the others put a plastic bag over her head and secured it with his belt eventually killing her.

No Minnesotan would dispute the use of the belt. It was available and handy. Probably closer to reach than duct tape.

But that isn’t the practical part of the story, though indeed it is very practical to use one’s belt when strangling someone. No, what was practical was that the sons stored her body in a large container, though detouring through South Dakota, and then wisely stored her in the garage until the ground thawed. Why waste energy trying to dig a hole in ground that is frozen solid?

It isn’t clear how the body was discovered, though I would bet it had something to do with foraging animals, however once found the local sheriff summed up the family dynamic as only a true Minnesotan could:

“It is very strange,” Stevens County Sheriff Randy Willis told the Star Tribune Tuesday. “She wanted to play Yahtzee and they didn’t. That seemed to be, in their minds, what expedited her sudden demise.”

Of the family, Willis said, “It’s probably not the most functional family in the world, but it’s not the most dysfunctional, either.”

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