As many of you know, I am a NoDak in exile and keep tabs on what goes on back in paradise, a word I use in all sincerity because I had a great time growing up in NoDak. This item intrigued me: it says Dickie Scruggs is among the top six contributors to North Dakota Democrats. His contribution: $10,000. Politics is pretty cheap in NoDak, if any of you are thinking of making a run for U.S. Senator, that’s the place to go. If you weren’t born there, of course, that is going to be a huge handicap because it will be assumed you are crazy and know little to nothing about what really matters in life, but the voting population is less than half a million, and with some effort you could meet nearly everyone and convince them you’re not some wacko with weird big city ways. Below are some guidelines.
Fashion tip: get used to wearing jeans, solid color dress shirts or blouses are OK, plaid is better.
Choice of campaign vehicle: club cab pickup is mandatory. Do not wash pickup too often: too flashy.
Headgear: male candidates should have cowboy hat handy, I am willing to serve as paid consultant to tell you when it is appropriate to wear it and when you should merely have it nearby, it’s too complicated to explain here. For women, no headgear is necessary, but always don baseball caps with "fun" slogans and sayings when they are presented to you.
Accent: Norwegian accent is best. High Plains nasal intonations work — if you can fake a Canadian accent without using "Eh" or saying "beauty" or "hoser," that will be close enough.
Drink: Soda is "pop." Do not forget this. Repeat: do not ask for "soda." Avoid potential faux pas by drinking only coffee or alcohol, both are very popular beverages.
Meals: breakfast, dinner, supper. There not only is no free lunch, there is no lunch at all. You must drop "lunch" from your vocabulary. UPDATE: A reader was perplexed by this and asked whether NoDaks don’t eat at noon. The noon meal is called dinner, supper is the evening meal. Breakfast is eaten in the morning, or according to the advertising of certain restaurants, anytime. Thus, there is no lunch, and I might add, also no "brunch." SECOND UPDATE: Someone else asked me why this is. I don’t know, it has never occurred to me to wonder why, it just is a fact of life in North Dakota like lots of wind, lots of cold and lots of mosquitoes. Wondering why would be crazy, like asking my dad why I had to haul hay bales or drive tractor when I was a kid — that’s just the way it is. By the way, you must master this thought process or you will not make it in NoDak at all, much less be elected senator.
Tips on driving on gravel roads: speed up when a vehicle approaches, it will build an air pocket that will deflect flying rocks and keep your pickup from getting pelted. When vehicles approach at high speed in the middle of the road, do not pull further to the right, you may lose control in the soft gravel of the shoulder. Instead, drive fast down the middle of the road yourself — they will probably eventually get over to their own side. Hold the wheel casually with three fingers of one hand to show passengers and other driver you have no fear: avoid the two-handed white-knuckle death grip at all costs, it will brand you as unfit to drive and to lead.
Political affiliation: Republican is best, moderate to conservative Democratic also works well (both senators and the state’s lone U.S. Representative are Democrats). Pro-farm subsidy is mandatory, as is pro-Second Amendment stance and demonstrated ability to use guns. The local definition of moderate to conservative may surprise you — state’s heritage is being stepped on and mocked by the powers that be, and most residents are descendants of semi-serfs who fled oppressive regimes: radical populist talk goes over very big.
Where to be seen: county fairs, high school and college sporting events, duck hunting season, fishing derbies, demolition derbies (people drive old cars and crash into one another in a big dirt arena), tractor pulls, rodeos, parades, senior citizen centers, American Legion posts, lutefisk suppers. If the idea of eating lutefisk — codfish soaked in lye — shocks you, rethink political plans. Remember that secretly, no one else really likes it either, it is merely a cultural artifact.