Growing up I was fairly indifferent to the state of Minnesota or its residents. That all changed in 1991. I was a junior in high school - there was quite the contingent of the student body and faculty who had migrated from MN to the AK. For the most part I got along fine with them - until October.
The halls of the high school became littered with hankies. . . Minnesota Twins Homer Hankies.
This was a problem - because I was the sole Atlanta Braves fan. . . and that October - Atlanta and Minnesota were pitted against each other in the World Series.
Throughout the series - my indignation and rage built steadily against those Minnesotans - until game 7 - when Minnesota beat the Braves to become the World Champions - wherein the bitterness reached its Zenith.
After the Twins won - I had become a sworn enemy to all things Minnesotan. Little did I know - that my future had a different path planned.
The years went on - the Twins having gone on into relative obscurity - while the Atlanta Braves proved themselves to be one of the most dominate teams in the 90's (sans World Titles). In the spring of 1995 - I had sent in my application to the LDS Church headquarters to become a full-time missionary for the Church. I had put my entire faith in them of being inspired where to put me to work.
My hopes were for Germany - or someplace warm if I couldn't go to the land of my forebears. After all - the other young men from my home town got to go to some quite exotic places. One went to London - another Ireland - a couple to Japan - and my best friend was sent to South Carolina. Ahh - warmth or foreign land here I come!
March 1995 - Weber St. vs Georgetown - EPIC March Madness! My roommates and I were getting our party prepared - when the mailman arrived. We saw him pull up to the mailbox - take out the mail - and put something in. I knew. My call had arrived.
Receiving a mission call is a rite of passage for the young men in the LDS Church. So I was excited - my roommates were excited. We ran down to the mailbox - and sure enough. A. Big. White. Envelope. Addressed to Elder Eskimo Bob.
I went back to my apartment - and with roommates encircling me - and asking for last minute predictions whether I'd be 'Stateside' or 'Foreign' - I opened the envelope.
I have to admit - I was really jazzed.
I opened it - pulled out the letter and skimmed over it to find out my destination.
You are hereby called to serve in the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission. . . . what?
The Twins? Homer Hankies? Those were the exact two thoughts that ran through my mind then. I had 9 weeks to get my affairs in order to be sent (on my dime) to preach Love and Salvation to Minnesotans. . . God defiantly has a healthy sense of irony - or perhaps he doesn't particularly care much for the South (personally - I think they don't need it, they're darn near perfect - now we just need some World Championships). I soon accepted my call - and went. . . I even went to a Twins Game - but rooted for the Indians - but those 24 months in Minnesota are some of the best months of my life. I've even learned to love that place - but not the Twins (Vikings I really like - I put up with the Timberwolves).
One of my favorite areas is Northeast Minneapolis - where I lived for 7 months - in the winter on a bike. Another is Mankato - where I ended my mission - and where I was introduced to the band 'The Divers'. They are a local band with some great tunes. I looked them up online today and they're still performing in MN - here's one of their songs. It's nostalgic - and also appropriate to ring in Summer - enjoy. It's followed by their signature song - or least it's signature to me: Espresso My Love.