Minnesota Nice? Or Minnesota Ice?
While driving to work the other day, one of our local radio stations ( KQRS ) was the host of a discussion (or debate) about whether Minnesotans should be labeled "Minnesota Nice" or "Minnesota Ice."
Most people across the country have probably never even heard the term "Minnesota Nice," but since I live here, it's of interest to me. So deal with it and read on.
Everyone who called in had moved here from the almighty Coasts (whether it be East or West) expecting to be the most popular kid on the block from day one due to their automatic superiority of gracing we Midwestern hicks with their Coastal (or the Midwestern Saving Grace, Chicago) influence -- added to the fact that, upon moving here, they heard something about we natives being "Minnesota Nice."
The story goes that everyone (in general) is "nice" in Minnesota. As in, we treat everyone like a neighbor or friend with a welcoming, friendly "Hi! How ya doin'?" type demeanor. Or that we display the epitome of "giving the shirt off our backs," and "we treat everyone like we live in a small town" type mentality. (Sidenote: I grew up in small town MN with some of the most mean f'ers you can even imagine - seriously, a few of my HS classmates are in prison now).
Being a native of this state, I guess I'm probably biased, but I can see both sides.
I'd say it's fair to say that most people who move anywhere in Minnesota, whether it be from Alaska, Alabama, Seattle....or just from one area of the state to another.... experience more Minnesota Ice than Minnesota Nice. It doesn't matter if you're moving to Minneapolis....or Duluth....or Crookston....or Dodge Center (small town).....the fact is, we're really only "nice" and welcoming if you come up to us first and say hi. THEN we'll be nice to you. But probably won't call you the next day and invite you our next house/garage/apartment/bonfire party.
Reason: We Minnesotans (and I really suspect that everyone around the world is like this) -- We already have, and have had, our own circle of friends established before you moved to this country / state / area / town/city / neighborhood....It takes meeting you a few times before we'll remember to give a damn who you are or invite you to the next social gathering.
Isn't that the same in Chicago....New York....Seattle....Calcutta?!?
Why are we Minnesotans the ones blamed for being icy instead of nicey?? High expectations, perhaps??
SO --- those of you who move here and expect to be "one of the gang" from day one because you've heard we're supposed to be "Minnesota Nice," just toss that idea out the window and remember what you were like in your own comfort zone before you moved here. In your own neck of the woods, did you automatically invite a new member to your little group outings as soon as s/he said hello?? I doubt it.
FURTHER -- if moving here, or moved here already and disappointed by the fact that you weren't elected neighborhood Homecoming Queen upon arrival -- get over the shock and prepare yourself to be the outgoing life of the party (or just willing to put yourself out there and approach others) if you want to become part of a group.
Okay, now my own objective opinion:
First off, let me say that I use to travel a lot for work…and I’ve done a little leisurely travel too…so, I’m not exactly well-traveled like the rest of my Kennedy brethren, but I’ve been to a few places…AND....I have had the experience of moving from MN to Chicagoland (albeit just for an internship) and from out-state MN to the metro area....
FRIENDLY (in my experience): London, England (or England as a whole): Edinburgh, Scotland (or Scotland as a whole), Boston, Mass.; New York, N.Y.; Hilton Head Isl., SC; Ontario, Can.; Detroit, Mich.; Milwaukee, Wis., Bloomington, Ill; Ocho Rios, Jamaica (the other tourists, not necessarily the locals); La Crosse, Wis.; Madison, Wis.; Winona, Minn.
UNFRIENDLY: Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Tex.; Chicago, Ill.; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.; Rochester, Minn.; Springfield, Mass.; and last, but not least, my own hometown of Dodge Center, Minn (well, the whole county).
I don’t need to go into details…it’s just my experience. However, those are the places I’ve been to that come to mind as either being friendly or unfriendly.
I moved to Minneapolis from Rochester, Minn. *gay hell*, in 2004. It really was hard to meet people at first. I even went to bars (gay bars, mind you, where almost everyone thinks they have either a reputation, or an image, or a boyfriend/trick to maintain) alone thinking I might strike up a conversation with someone. Of course, in my mind, I was the semi-cute guy standing there alone. In my former neck of the woods (non-metro, or “out-state” Minnesota), we embraced new-comers with open arms – and maybe more than that – delighted to see a new face in the lonely crowd of small-city gays. I quickly changed my tune. I realized that everyone in Minneapolis / St. Paul already had a group of friends established….and they were all at the bar with them.
So, one night, basically out of frustration, I just started talking to this guy who was standing beside me at the bar waiting for his drink. I declared that all the people (especially gay guys) in Minneapolis sucked. That they were either socially retarded or just plain unfriendly. That led into a conversation….and a hook-up….Anyway, that’s what it took for me to enter the elusive “Minnesota Circle of Friends” cult. After that, this new friend, Bill, and I hung out a few times and I met a few of his friends…and a few of their friends….and a few of their friends. Now, I have my own little group of friends (which includes Bill – as just a friend).
Point being – we can seem unfriendly or cold (or maybe even overtly nice at first), but just like anywhere else in the world…in a new area, you have to make the effort to first, introduce yourself and show your true colors (aka Cyndi Lauper), to enter a new crowd.
And if you’re of the type who’s always lived in the same area, and hung out with the same crowd….Open up your mind and start talking to potential new members of your little clique. You might just have more fun…or get laid….or whatever.
Conclusion --- Fuck Minnesota Nice. We all, as regular people, find it hard to either enter a new comfort zone, or allow someone new into it.