Thursday, March 11, 2004

When People from Los Angeles Marry People from Minneapolis

When people from Los Angeles get married to people from Minneapolis, they have three major areas of conflict. These are: (1) cars, (2) vegetables, and (3) windows. It is possible to work out these conflicts; it is helpful if you are prepared for them.

(1) Cars.

People from Minneapolis drive cars for transportation. The most important buying criterion for a car is its ability to start at -40 degrees Farenheit. If the car cannot start at that temperature, that means you need to purchase an oil dipstick heater. These cost about $15 and have an element that is about 20 inches long. You plug them into a standard electrical outlet. This keeps the oil heated in your car, so that the car will start at minus 40. The trouble is that you must park your car near an electrical outlet. The second most important buying criterion for a car is either front wheel drive or all wheel drive. This means that you will be able to get up hills that are snowy or icey in the winter. You definitely do not want rear wheel drive. The third most important criterion is rust. You want to look the car over very carefully for rust. If it is a new car, most likely there will be no rust. With a used car, you have to be very careful. In Minnesota, once a car has rust, the car's body is ready to rot away, and you need to get rid of it. That's about it -- ability to start at minus forty degrees Farenheit without assistance from a dipstick heater, front wheel drive, and no rust.

People from Los Angeles have never given any consideration to these three important criteria. People from Los Angeles think of cars like clothes. Cars are an expression of your personality and mood. You make a statement with your car -- not with your opinions, your writing, or your behavior. In Los Angeles, it is always important to look good, so you would never drive an old car, because thatmeans you are old and don't look good. You also keep your car washed
and waxed and take great pride in this activity. After all, you would not go out in public with dirty clothes, so you cannot drive a dirty car. It is also very important to keep the front and rear windshield meticulously clean, so that you have good visibility on the freeway.

No one in Minneapolis makes any serious attempt to keep a car clean in the winter. Chances are after you got out of the car wash, the water would freeze in the locks and then you might have trouble opening the doors. Visibility does not matter that much -- you pretty much hope that the other drivers are not driving white or gray cars, and you can always make out the image of a colored car even if your windshield is covered with slush.

To provide an example of car substituting for personality, in Los Angeles, if you want to convey the image that you are a fun, sports-loving guy ready for adventure, you buy a Jeep. You might also join a Road Ralley club, and you might get custom features for your Jeep. You can probably get special wheel covers, special upholstery, and that sort of thing. There is a huge business in Los Angeles for after-market customization of vehicles. It is pretty common for the average person to spend more on their car each year than they have in their savings accounts.

Obviously when the spouse from Minneapolis and the spouse from Los Angeles go shopping for a car the first time, there will be a lot of surprises.

(2) Vegetables

People from Minneapolis cannot get fresh vegetables year round, so they do not bother to try. Instead, they buy frozen vegetables and keep them in their freezers. If fresh vegetables are available, they will buy a lot of them and keep them in the refrigerator, making sure they have some ever night so that the vegetables are consumed before they go bad. Sometimes it is not possible to get out and get groceries in Minneapolis, because there's a snow storm and the roads are not clear. More often, the roads are clear, but it is just so cold out, it is not worth the hassle of grocery shopping. So, people from Minneapolis go shopping for groceries as infrequently as possible. They are big investors in Tupperware -- anything to keep those vegetables as fresh as long as possible.

People from Los Angeles are used to fresh fruit and vegetables year round. They go to the grocery store every day and buy the fresh food. They never buy frozen fruit and vegetables or even canned fruit and vegetables. Every day, some where in Los Angeles, there's a farmer's market, so the Angelinos even have the option of buying direct from the farmer. When they take their purchases home, the Angelinos put all the vegetables out on the counter. They would never put them in the refrigerator. They figure the vegetables will be eaten within 24 hours, so what is the difference. It is not unusual to walk into a Los Angeles home and see broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce sitting out on the counter. No one forgot to put the vegetables away; the vegetables are just waiting to be made into the evening's dinner. If the spouse from Minnesota enters the house and starts putting the vegetables in the refrigerator, the spouse from Los Angeles will go out and buy more. The spouse from Los Angeles would never think to look in the refrigerator, because that is only for milk and meats and other products that need to stay cold.

Obviously the spouse from Los Angeles and the spouse from Minneapolis will have quite a time grocery shopping.

(3) Windows

The spouse from Los Angeles will walk around the house opening all the windows. The spouse from Minneapolis will walk around thehouse closing all the windows. Each will tell the other that they are worried about high utility bills. They will agree that they do not want their utility bills to be unduly high. They will engage in opposite behaviors to keep the bills down. Neither will understand why the other is doing what he/she is doing.

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