June 14, 2006

The Minnesota Goodbye

My dearest friend, Sis - who hails from the southern half of the US - just informed me that she was unaware of the (In)famous Minnesota Goodbye. My family SPECIALIZES in the MG, so I thought I'd share our version of it with you. I imagine that there is something like the MG in some other states/families, but believe me, if you aren't a Minnesota Native you haven't experienced the Real Thing in its full and dysfunctional glory.

The Minnesota Goodbye starts subtly, usually at the point at which you notice that your host's eyes are starting to droop. You say you have to be going - so of course you are offered a bit more desert and coffee. And you have it, because your hostess' face is semaphoring her fear that you might starve to death during the trip home... or worse, that you secretly thought her baking was just a wee bit overdone.

After eating your second helping of rhubarb buckle you say you REALLY have to be going. And then the host asks you a question or two that starts up a new thread of conversation, so you stay for a little more coffee. And maybe a bathroom break.

Then your spouse starts looking at his watch, and you say you truly do have to go, you have to go to work in the morning. But your hostess remembers that she had some photos that she meant to give you, so you wait for her to dig them up and then you have to go through them and appreciate them, and then she wants to pack up some extra desert and dinner leftovers for you to take home. You say (several times, in gradually weakening tones... resistance is futile, you *will* be assimilated) that you really can't, but she insists. You say you don't want to be a bother, but she insists - and besides, she's already dishing things into the container(s) and covering it/them with tin foil. You say how wonderful the hotdish was, and she writes out the recipe on a card for you. And then she has to rummage around in the utility drawer/closet for the right-sized bag for the leftover container(s). By then she is telling you about her sister's knee surgery, and the trouble she's had with her own knees.

The next thing you know you are having more coffee.

Eventually you tear yourself out of her gracious clutches, and you head staunchly for the door. But you have to stop at the exit for everyone to hug and say how nice it's been, and then have a discussion about when you are all going to get together again, and where, and what you will do, and who else should be invited. Your hostess tells a couple stories about the doings of mutual friends/family who won't be able to make it to the next gathering. Then you all hug again and say goodbye, and head out the door. The host and hostess stand inside of the screen door for a bit, waving goodbye and calling out last minute warnings about the weather and the road conditions.

Once you get either into the car (if it is parked less than 100 inches from the door) or to the end of the driveway (if you are parked along the curb or at the bottom of the driveway) it gets too difficult and tacky to yell like that, so your hostess and host scurry down to join you. You all tell each other again what a nice time you had, and how good it would be to do it all again. More warnings about getting home safely. Your host notices something about your car, and the men have a discussion about how/where to fix it and other cars that they have had that didn't seem to get damaged as easily as this one. The women again discuss the food at dinner, how wonderful it was, and you insist that you could *never* have pulled off a dinner like that yourself. Your hostess recalls all the wonderful dishes you've served up in the past, and reminds you to send her the recipe for that pasta salad you brought to the last family/company/bridge club picnic.

Eventually you close the car doors and back down the driveway or start down the street, but you do it slowly and with your windows down, because your host and hostess are still scurrying after you with extra safety concerns and thanks for your company and questions about whether you've heard from Mary Ann lately, and does she have a new phone number, and if so please call and let them know what it is. You agree, and there's more goodbyes, and occasionally an attempt at a last hug through the windows. You both continue to wave and call out goodbyes and safety tips as you disappear from view.

The Minnesota Goodbye. It's a thing of awe and wonder.

And, given all that coffee, insomnia.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a beneficent and excruciating spectacle/phenomenon!
I don't know, Sis, I think I would just have to curl up under the kitchen table in one of those fuzzy dog beds (turning around and around and around and around and around in it about 50 times first) and then just flumf down and *stay* there. In fact, I'd just move in. Who could stand to leave? :D

1:10 AM  
Anonymous mrspao said...

Oooh spooky. I have to tell you that is exactly how the first date I had with pao went. :)

4:52 AM  
Blogger renee said...

Ah yes, the Minnesota goodbye. I know it well. You really do want to start saying goodbye almost as soon as you get somewhere, so you can get home at a decent time. Of course, I'm just as bad at actually stopping the conversation and leaving, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

6:09 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Oh, that's hysterical. And frighteningly accurate. It's right up there with the Minnesota response to compliments.

6:20 AM  
Blogger mE said...

Sis: ... which is why you walked in our door already saying "I've got to go," and I took you seriously and refrained from exposing you to the usual treatment. Just wait until you come for a *real* visit some day!

"Minnesotans... Nature's Social Tar Babies"


Mrs. Pao: Obviously you both should move here, you'd fit right in. Tell Mr. Pao that we've got a really great local micro-brewery... ;D


Renee: Same here - which is why I've had so much opportunity to observe the Minnesota Goodbye, I guess, being the last to leave and all...


Amy: "Oh, that's hysterical. And frighteningly accurate."

Oh, no, I'm sure you would have done much better. I'm really sorry for having inflicted that on you. I don't know what I was thinking. Please forgive me...

"It's right up there with the Minnesota response to compliments."

What a brilliant and accurate observation! :)

7:13 AM  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

I'm kinda glad I don't live in Minnesota.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Oh, no. My observation was neither brilliant nor accurate. Really. That old line?

9:06 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

It's sorta sad that Prairie Home is a documentary, isn't it?!

7:21 PM  
Blogger Carrie K said...

I was wondering about the insomnia.

Nicely done, Amy! An example in action. Just like observing it in the wild, but from the safety of California where we just keep in touch via cellphones while safely ensconced in our cars. The way God intended.

8:14 PM  
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5:45 PM  

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