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You wear shorts at The Ralph, because the ice doesn’t make it that cold…geez. You bring your out-of-state friends deer hunting out west and laugh at their winter jackets. You don strappy sandals to go dancing in January and leave your jacket in the car. Coat checks are a hassle! And it only takes a second to run down Broadway anyway.
We hardcore North Dakotans not only bring a giant jug of alcohol to a party — we also make it ourselves. Everybody knows somebody who makes redeye, German wedding schnapps, uber-sweet apple pie, or burnt sugar whiskey. You also know you should only drink about half as many of these Everclear-based concoctions as you want to, and to stand up slooooooooowly, because Grandma’s family recipe is strong.
It’s the “bye-zuhn” — no matter what the guys on ESPN say. Even if you went to school out of state, you’re still up for tailgating in the Fargodome parking lot. And when College GameDay comes to town, you squeeze onto the streets of downtown Fargo with 9,000 other fans for a shot at being on TV. You’re not a bandwagoner, you just like a good party.
Got a couple candy bars, canned fruit, and a package of cookies? Toss them in some Cool Whip and you’ve got yourself a salad, my friend.
Ok fine, the TV show Fargo got some things right…
When you tell someone you’re from North Dakota, you brace yourself for a blank stare or a comment about the movie Fargo. You’ll throw out Montana, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan as geographical markers, and realize nobody knows where they are either. They’ll mention the Black Hills or Mount Rushmore and you’ll politely explain that those are actually in South Dakota, but at least they’re in the right part of the country. “Do you have paved roads up there?” your companion asks. You’ll smile, but inside you’re like, “Just. Stop. Talking.”
At some point, you’ll be drinking with friends and realize that some (or all) of the people sitting around the table or campfire with you can hunt, fish, cook and preserve food, navigate, build a fire, and make a shelter. And all of you have pantries and freezers full of food, thanks to pre-blizzard grocery store runs and Sam’s Club memberships. You are so ready for those zombies.
Come January, you’ll be rocking some combination of a camisole, T-shirt, button-down shirt, fleece-lined tights, knee socks, legwarmers, long underwear, a sweater, tall boots and a scarf. Add a winter coat, an intentionally ironic hat (an earflap cap or you’re the stocking cap your dad wore in high school — go Demons! — always work) and gloves fit for climbing Mt. Everest and you’re ready for NDSU tailgating, an outdoor hockey game or, you know, a trip to the grocery store, without the annoying “Marshmallow Man” effect.
Raising a glass of keg beer under the stars with a few dozen — or a few hundred — of your closest friends is a North Dakota coming-of-age ritual. Drinks, friends, blankets, a vehicle with a good sound system, and a secluded spot with more than one exit are key. A bonfire is a bonus. Just keep your voices down when you’re working out the logistics over gas station pizza, since the cop always picks up a pop before his shift.
Sure, you like to bust out a cocktail dress or a suit every now and then, but you’ll be damned if somebody is going to tell you what to wear and when to wear it. So you’ll rock those Wranglers at your cousin’s wedding in Rolla and wear your Carhartt jacket into the HoDo for cocktails, thank you very much. If that cute dress from Kittsona suddenly seems a little too fancy, you’ll just throw your fleece jacket on over it. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard.
North Dakotans are tanning on their balconies on the first sunny day in April, teeing off in shorts at Bully Pulpit when the tourists are wearing sweaters, and eating lunch on the patio well into September. Your summer to-do list includes fishing on Devils Lake, cruising down the Missouri on a pontoon, walking, biking, burgers on the grill and drinks around a fire pit — maybe all on the same day.
Almost everyone you know has been driving something (cars, ATVs, motorcycles) since before they hit puberty. When kids in other states are just signing up for driving lessons, you’ve already mastered winter driving and backing up.
You do the two finger wave when you meet a car on Highway 52 and nod at people on Main because not acknowledging their presence would just be weird. And you apologize constantly, especially when you don’t know what to say. If you’ve ever apologized when it wasn’t even your fault, you’re definitely North Dakotan.