Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
“Oh no really, you shouldn’t have”, or “It’s no trouble” or “No, that’s ok, we’ll take care of the food, you just show up”. Do any of these sound familiar? If you live in Minnesota, chances are you’ve most likely said at least one of them, because, well, we’re just so gosh darn nice. We don’t like to put anyone out, other than ourselves, and what are friends for, anyhow? Here in Minnesota, we put the M into lots of things…mosquitos, Joe Mauer, Mall of America, but the best is martyr – just ask Garrison Keillor, I’m pretty sure he’s told many a story of the long-suffering Lutherans who would rather cut off an arm than admit someone is putting them out. I should know, it’s how I was raised, and I felt the spectre of those roots rise up recently when we invited some friends over for dinner, so they could enjoy the new screen porch my husband had recently finished building for us, better known as the “Tiki Hut”.
When we extended the invitation to them they immediately offered to bring the main course, and being the good Minnesotan that I am, my first instinct was to respond “oh you don’t need to do that, we’ll take care of everything”, but for some reason this time I didn’t. We’re trying to pinch expenses right now, and their offer was timely, however I immediately felt the pull of the automatic response wanting to come out. It was like there was a little “martyr Beth” on one shoulder, and a little “feisty Beth” on the other, and they’re both talking into an ear. “Just go with it, they want to do this” says one, and “tell them they don’t have to do that” says the other. You see, we’re just so conditioned to not stand up for ourselves or push back on anything, it’s absurd. Ask my mom or husband what my favorite phrase is, and they’ll probably tell you it’s “You can’t be a doormat unless you lay down”!
Somehow, I did it. I relinquished control of dinner to someone else, and guess what? The world didn’t end, dinner was wonderful and the evening was a success with less work for me. The very best part was that we got to enjoy all of it in the aforementioned Tiki Hut, which meant a night free from another M, the Minnesota mosquito, which are serious business around here. We live very close to two swamps, and right after we moved in here I was sitting in my living room one sunny day, and suddenly I heard the sound of a helicopter very close over my house. As in so close I felt the cavitation in my chest! Running outside, you can imagine my shock as I saw them basically doing a turn over our house before nearly doing a touch and go on the neighbor’s garage across the street and then plunging lower toward the swamp. After I pulled my heart out of my toes, where it had plunged, I realized they were dropping mosquito control pellets in the swamp, but for a moment, I seriously thought Radar O’Reilly was going to pop up yelling “incoming!”. Our mosquitos are evil, vicious creatures. They’ll wait until you’re nearly asleep before buzzing your ears, bite you in a spot that you can’t possibly reach to scratch, or bite you when scratching would be really inconvenient (first dates, job interviews, you get the idea.) Of course, we also have our favorite mosquito jokes too. Have you heard about the nearsighted ones that drained a blood bank last week? I want to offer a big thanks to Gary Clark, for the use of his wonderful cartoon.
Copyright Gary Clark. Cartoon used with permission. See more by subscribing to the free daily cartoon at: http://www.swamp.com.au/subscribe.php
What are you a martyr about? Come on, fess up! I’d love to hear what gets some of you out there.