Minnesota nice, or not!

“Really”nice, or really “nice.” Musings on our state images.

Jake Perron

After the last box has been taken to your dorm and just before the hatchback closes on the family station wagon, your parents probably took the opportunity to offer that universal goodbye advice to the tune of, “Make sure you eat your fruits and vegetables and keep your mind sharp.

I can’t keep you from drinking, so be smart about it.” (And if your dad is anything like mine you’ve probably been advised to keep your fly zipped).

Tears. Hugs. Hatchback door closes.

Though our parents’ final chance to offer their wisdom toward security from the vices available through the freedom of university life is rooted in love and protection, there is nothing that all of the Family Matters think tanks in the most cerulean of blue states could have prepared us for the most iniquitous of iniquities residing in this state: The facade of Minnesota nice.

When you look up Minnesota nice in the Wobegonics archives, it actually translates to Minnesota passive-aggressiveness.

However, that definition isn’t verbatim to mine since Minnesotans wrote it, and Minnesotans have a difficult time speaking what’s really on their minds.

Minnesotans are about as nice as Larry Craig is straight, and equally furtive in their cover-up. Niceness is the Minnesota shtick like hospitality in the South or pomposity in the East. Who wouldn’t want to be automatically judged as nice after showing a Minnesota ID at an out-of-state bar?

Nearly days after I finally succumbed and came to terms with the unavoidable reality of the Freshman 15, I also came to terms with the fact that Minnesota “Passive-Aggressivians” pervades my family.

“Jake, I haven’t seen you for awhile. How’s school? You look great Ö you want to make films after you graduate? At least the arts are one of two industries that aren’t affected by the current state of the economy.” (The other being organized crime.)

The transparency of this statement is rooted in the mere acknowledgement of my appearance, as though my aunts were actually expecting my irresponsibility to induce an even more significant weight gain than average.

As far as their disapproval of my ambitions, I have a difficult time finding a reasonable argument.

Chances are I’d be more successful in organized crime, but I think I’m too nice to get involved.

This behavioral disorder isn’t limited to the elderly (that’s right Aunt Denise, I’m tagging you as an elder, and I’m being blatantly aggressive in doing so).

Years of misinterpreting Piaget has precipitated a generation of passive-aggressors who are light-years beyond their parents in technique and execution. So much so that we’d never begin to think of bragging about this advanced disposition.

This means when the loveable rogue you share a room with interrupts your homework with, “It would sure be nice if you could take a break to vacuum the room and make my bed. I mean, I did take out your trash last month,” he’s as far away from a diplomatic agenda as Condoleeza Rice. And with that approach, he’s got about as good a chance at accomplishing matters as she has being rehired by Stanford.

This perceived Minnesota nicety has been known to transpose through print media as well. This is also known as the City Pages Paradox.

The City Pages covers Twin Cities’ arts, eats and entertainment.

The City Pages’ staff thinks they live in New York City.

The City Pages’ staff snubs anyone who is popular enough to play in New York City, appear on the Late Show or interview with papers outside the metro area.

After appearing on Jimmy Kimmel, CNN and Vh1, Tay Zonday was one of the positive portraits from the Twin Cities this summer. Yet, since Zonday doesn’t sell out shows at the 400 Bar or ascribe to the vegan-sexual movement in New Zealand, he’s apparently deserving of flip remarks from his hometown newspaper.

So when you’re unsure if that wave in the airport bathroom is your first encounter with Minnesota nice, or whether you’ve just been dealt unwanted advance, apply this cultural litmus test to:

True Minnesota nice elicits a smile and nod. Get to know the person better. If the person continues to be unabashedly ambiguous, you can probably assume directness is not their forte.

And if they’re truly nice, you’ve found a new friend.

If you’re having difficulty weeding out the genuine from the phony, and you and I happen to cross paths, don’t hesitate to approach me. I’m a nice guy and can help you with sorting out the Mel Gibsons from the George Clooneys.

Jake Perron welcomes comments at [email protected]