Minnesota’s obsession? Is it really ‘nice’?

Whenever Minnesota examines its Minnesota Niceness, we are prompted to make popcorn, prop our feet up and watch the unfolding entertainment. We’d invite the neighbors over for the fun but we’ve never met them since they moved in two or three years ago. But that’s a story for another day.

The Star Tribune kicked off the latest self-examination last week with an op-ed detailing the usual difficulty people have when they move here:

Take Pam, a transplant from Colorado. When she and her family moved to a Twin Cities suburb, no one ­— not one neighbor — greeted her or said hello, much less invited her into their home (for two years and counting).

Or take Todd, who is originally from Chicago and came to the conclusion that something must be wrong with him. Though he had made many friends during stints in Iowa and elsewhere, since moving to Minnesota, he had yet to make a single one.

Today, transplants Alan and Sharon Miller of Eagan defend the honor of the native with their own op-ed.

“They (the authors of the first op-ed) take a backward approach to the positives of living here,” they write.

Next, imagine you’re on a cul-de-sac (as we are) as the moving van pulls up. The neighbors are clustered together; all they know is that New Yorkers are moving in, and they don’t know whether to call in the children and animals or to list their property with a broker. Be positive, be friendly, take the initiative. Instead of knocking on that neighbor’s door feigning a request to borrow some sugar, knock on that door, smiling, and say: “Hi, we just moved in next door, and we’d like to invite you to coffee or dinner in a few days.” There. You broke the ice (which will be absolutely necessary if you must move in during the winter, in any event).

Next, when your neighbor says, “Are you from the East?”, don’t reply, “How’d ja know?” Say instead, “Is it that obvious?” and she’ll reply, “Yes, we don’t call it ‘cawfee.’ ” Immediately smack the palm of your hand against your forehead and exclaim, “Uff da!” And when her husband asks where in the East and you reply “Longuyland,” laugh along with them. When they ask if you have children, reply, “Yes, but we didn’t leave a forwarding address,” which is certain to be met with empathy. Tell them that you’ve already signed up for “Minnesotan as a Second Language” as an adult ed course.

To show that you have familiarized yourself with the state’s history, don’t bring up the fact that the largest mass execution in the nation’s history took place in Mankato near the end of the Civil War, but rather use names that will be sure to get smiles, like “Arne Carlson.” If you want to go for a big laugh, say “Jesse Ventura.” Now you’re on your way. Talk about the fact that you’ve always wanted to go ice fishing, but don’t do that until May or June, in the hope that they’ll forget by next winter.

Sure, this all sounds familiar. It’s the discussion that never ends (See my “Letter to the East Coast” from 2011).

Thank goodness.