Go Minnesota!

Who knew the Norse were so nice? Turns out those folks up there are pretty good neighbors. Or they just have a shared cultural value of helping people out during winter. Because Minnesota winters will literally KILL YOU. Seriously. Do you remember the Vikings in the 70’s? There was a reason that was the most successful decade in the history of the franchise. They played outside. Bud Grant shipped in giant blocks of Norwegian ice, put it in a wood chipper and sprayed it all over the visiting team’s hotel just to make sure they knew who they were playing. Rumor anyway. Things didn’t go that far with Mom last weekend but using my innate worst case scenario logic it is possible they could have ended up frozen to death covered with ice chips.

Anyway, last weekend Mom, Rye, Rye’s friend Madison and Madison’s Mom Kim all went up to Minneapolis for the national dance championships. Or some such thing. I’m unclear on how teams actually qualify for these championships. There doesn’t seem to be a selection committee that is sequestered in a hotel deciding bids. There also does not appear to be a dance regular season in which a team must prove themselves before making the playoffs. So as far as I was able to surmise, it is all based on cash. Sorta like how Big 12 football officials decide when to blow the whistle and throw a flag. For reference sake see the end of the 2013 Iowa State-Texas game. Anyway, there were lots of dance teams from lots of places – including Guam and Mexico. Not sure why a team from Mexico was competing in the national dance championships or why they decided that Minneapolis in February was a sweet place to visit. Anyway, Rye and Madison were in five different dances plus Mom entered Rye in a jumps and leaps competition. Rye was less than enthused about this. But as I explained to her, back in the day – before the weight of increasing federal government intrusion, two knee surgeries and kids beat me down – I once had the second highest vertical jump at basketball camp so she had genetics on her side.

They left on Thursday evening and took my truck. Snow was in the forecast and we figured 4 wheel drive was a good failsafe. They arrived with no issues. The same cannot be said for Bails. Her and I decided to go out for dinner on Friday since Mom and Rye were gone and Kinz went to a movie with some friends. She picked Red Robin. Haven’t been there in awhile because Red Robin isn’t on Mom’s list of favorites. Mine either to be honest. I’m always going to pick Rock Bottom if given a choice. Nachos and a microbrew are like the Friday night dinner version of Swann and Stallworth. Simon and Simon. Poison and neon green. Bails decided that since she was at Red Robin, she wasn’t messing around. We got pretzel bites and milkshakes to go with her chicken strips and fries. Lots of fries. She slugs her way through about half her food and milkshake and declares that she’s full. Good enough for me. Around 10 or so Bails gets up off the couch and says that she’s still full and her stomach kinda hurts.

“Well, you ate a lot there dude. Give it a chance to settle. You’ll be okay in the morning.”

Morning comes and I head out on my Saturday morning ritual. 44 oz Diet Pepsi for me, donuts for the girls. Bails comes down to the couch, gets a donut and then just lays there for about hour groaning about her stomach still hurting. She sounded like the White House press corps after every answer Josh Earnest gives. I get curious and go over feel her forehead. No fever.

“Well, its possible you just ate too much or there was something in your food that just didn’t sit right and its messing up your tummy.”

She gives me that look that says, “Yeah, thanks a pantload there Chet but that doesn’t really help me.”

My lack of helpfulness was confirmed about 10 minutes later when she went upstairs into the bathroom and conducted an emergency evacuation of everything on the stomach level. Everything. Fries. Milkshake. Candy still there from Halloween. It was loud too. Like a prehistoric burp from a T-Rex.

“Dad, I just threw up. But I feel better.”

“Good. Go brush your teeth Upchuck McVomit.”

Aside from that we only got good news on Saturday. Rye placed 3rd in the jumps competition, 5th in two dances, 3rd in another and then two 1st place finishes. Sunday each team gets to pick their best performance and compete in the grand championship. Naturally, Rye’s team picked one of their 1st place dances. A team from Sioux Falls, which they beat on Saturday, turned around and beat them out on Sunday. My reaction? Did anybody check where these judges are from? It matters. I mean, not to beat a dead horse, but look at Big 12 football officials. They’re all from Texas. Teams from Texas sure seem to do well against teams not from Texas. The Big 12 supervisor of officials is a freaking Texas grad. But I’m sure he’s unbiased…

Anyway, they finally get down with all the dances and awards Sunday evening and they head out about 9 p.m. Three hour drive back home. As a bonus, Mom is bringing home another girl on the dance team. Evidently, she’s uncomfortable unless she has three girls in the backseat. So I get a call from Mom at the gas station after they get done filling up.

“Hey, so the truck won’t start.”

“What? Didn’t you just drive it to the gas station?”

“Yes, but now its dead.”


“But there a guy here who is going to jump the truck.”

“Um…okay…call me when you get it started.”

But what I was thinking was, “Um…okay…please God let this guy not be Jeffrey Dahmer. Or Peter Stormare from Fargo.”

Well, turns out this guy’s name was John. John drives a pick-up, carries jumper cables and has a dog. He notices that my truck is deader than the ability of movie producers to come up with an idea that doesn’t involve a Marvel Comics character. He jumps the truck. Then, with the experience of years of Minnesota’s badass winters, tells Mom that driving back to Des Moines with a crap-ass battery is a bad idea when it is below zero outside. He leads them to a close-by hotel – the Prime Rate Inn – walks in with Mom to make sure that they get a room and then drives over to a full service BP station to see when the place opens in the morning. He comes back and tells Mom that they open at 7:30, gives her his cell phone number in case she needs the truck to get jumped again in the morning and then goes home. Mom calls me, tells me the whole story and whilst relaying it she insists on calling him “St. John.” My Dad lived in Minnesota for a while during the winter of 1999-2000 and told me that the folks up in Minnesota don’t mess around with helping each other out in wintertime. Well, thanks Minnesota. Go Gophers I guess. Mom gets up Monday morning calls the BP and they come over, jump the truck, and after Mom drives it over to the station, they drive her back to the Prime Rate Inn. Turns out it’s a crap-ass battery.

So Mom and everyone else makes it back home without incident. I drive the truck to work all week without incident. So I guess thanks BP. Who knew the national dance championships would be so perilous…

The so-called world dance championships are in April. In Orlando. Just FYI.


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