The eyes of the world are on us today, so check your fly. Also, you’ve got something on your right cheek. The other side. My right. Great! Now go out there and represent, because we’re about to be judged by people who thought Mindianapolis was in Indiana or something, until they got off the plane.
Are you worried? I’m not. You know how we want to be seen: an old-style bearded Viking who serves on an arts council and volunteers at the local library, listening to “Purple Rain” arranged by the Minnesota Orchestra as he bikes through the snow.
How we fear we will be seen: that guy from shipping and receiving who does the zipline over the Mississippi bare-naked, and he’s painted himself to look like the Hamm’s Bear.
In fact, we’re both of these — or somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter. They’ll remember that we’re nice; that’s a given. They’ll probably tell their friends back home we all sounded like “Fargo” characters. You may say, “There’s a certain existential bleakness to this time of year, a Kierkegaardian absence defined by the death of hope.” But they’ll hear, “Oh well, yah, it’s a big day fer sure, what with the game and all that.” Because that’s probably what you really said.
If the visitors come from a big city and hear tales about how a restaurant was charging $36 for guac and chips and backed down after a public outcry, they’ll feel a moment of awe: “If ever there’s an opportunity for shameless gouging, it’s the Super Bowl, and these Minnesotans declined to fleece the out-of-towners. We doff our hats to you. The world needs more people like you. Also, what a bunch of suckers. But still: good, decent suckers.”
If Eagles fans come here and find that Minnesotans aren’t hateful ogres who want them down by 34 points in the first quarter and their quarterback trying to decide whether to call a running play or an Uber to get him to the airport, then they will be abashed. There will be shaking of hands outside the stadium, protestations of friendship.
Them: “We almost feel bad for beating you like a side of frozen beef in that Rocky movie of ours.”
Us: “It’s OK. We’ve made our peace with it. We hope your dreams are crushed gently, inexorably and completely, and your faith in a loving God ebbs away with every tick of the play clock. Would you like some guac?”
In any case, relax. The people watching on TV will remember the monochromatic views seen for a few seconds before the commercials. The people who come here will remember the aching cold and will prize the experience like someone who had a layover in Iceland. “Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. Pretty cool place. The people who live there? They love it. They’re nuts.”
That we do. And that we are.