If you’re wondering how to fit in when visiting the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl, I’ll save you all kinds of time. You can’t. Sure, you can dress warmly (though that is the first clue you aren’t from here), and you can even adopt a quasi Fargo accent, you still won’t fit in.
Hell, I was born here and have lived here for most of my life and I’m not welcome in many of the neighborhoods (one of which I grew up in). The truth is, Minnesotans make their friends in kindergarten and those are the people they socialize with for the rest of their lives. You can marry your way into the group, but you better not get divorced because even if you were a lifelong member of the group, we will dump your ass faster than you can say “ya sure, you betcha”. We have to because we want to talk behind your back and as Minnesotans we can’t do that if we’re bowling with you every Friday night.
How to Fit in When Visiting the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl
We’re not really that nice. I know the media is pushing Minnesota Nice like we’re this warm and welcoming place, and we are to our friends we met in kindergarten, but not to strangers. And if you came to Minnesota from another state you are a stranger. People move here from out of state and live amongst us for decades and they remain strangers to the locals. There’s nothing you can do about it, it’s the rule.
We are Polite
However, we are polite. In fact, we’re considerably more polite to the strangers than our kindergarten friends. We’ll hold the door open for you and we’ll offer to jump start your car when it’s too cold for the engine to turn over. We’ll even help push your car when it gets stuck in the snow. That’s just common courtesy and while we may not be particularly religious, we have that thing called Lutheran Karma (really, it’s a thing, I just made it up) cuz we know our car will get stuck at some point.
If you’re coming here from the east you can probably acclimate to the cold weather and dress appropriately, except it’s a lot colder. If you’re coming from the south or the west – it’s not going to work. Dressing appropriately for a Minnesota winter does not mean wearing three layers of down coat, three pairs of socks and your brand new Sorrels. It’s going to be chilly here this week. The forecast has the temps ranging from -8°F to 29°F, that’s an open jacket, no mittens and no hat for Minnesotans. College males will dress in shorts this time of year. The only time you wear all of those layers is when you are ice fishing and that’s because you’re standing on a few feet of ice and that can get a little nippy.
Part of the reason we don’t wear all those layers is because we have a Habitrail system in both cities. The Skyway is a system of above-ground walkways that connect the buildings in the downtowns. You never actually have to go outside. They can be easy to get lost in, however. Every now and then there are sightings of old Deadheads who visited in the 90s for a Grateful Dead concert and never found their way out. It might have been the acid or it might have been the skyway system. We’ll never know so be careful.
The Long Goodbye
In Minnesota, nothing lasts longer than saying goodbye, except for maybe the losing streak of the Minnesota Vikings (too soon?). We say goodbye for longer than we visited. If you stop someone in the skyway and ask for directions we will chat you up. We’ll ask where you’re from and then we won’t be able to say goodbye without at least three attempts. It’s another one of those rules that have been in existence since time immemorial. It just is, go with it. Trying to force an early goodbye will just make it take longer. Thankfully they close the skyways at 10pm on weeknights, 8pm on Saturday and 6pm on Sunday.
If you’re not from here you’re probably better off using the light rail system, an Uber or taking the bus. We recently had over a foot of snow and the plowing still isn’t completed, at least not in St. Paul. It’s not worth the accident, insurance increase and the long goodbye you’ll have to have outside in -8°F after exchanging insurance info. If you do plan on driving please study this primer on Minnesota Driving. It covers it all from parking, getting stuck and what to put in your emergency kit. It attempts to tackle pedestrians and their right of way, but that’s always a heated discussion.
It won’t help you fit in, but it will help you understand why we are the way we are. Pick up a copy of How to Talk Minnesotan by Howard Mohr, or better yet, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy. You won’t get it before the Super Bowl, unless you want a digital copy (checks to see if they have digital copies – they do not, bummer). Still, it’s pretty funny and explains a lot. Of course, unless you fall in love with a local you’ll probably never come back here so no need really, but feel free to if you like. I’ll choose a random person from the comments as winner of this pretty funny book.