Dear Wisconsin: Minnesota Wants A Divorce

By Pete Kotz
City Pages (11/19/14)

Dear Wisconsin:

I remember when we met at that barn dance 150 years ago. The other states were so stuck up. New York was all “Look at me!” And California was all “I like your shoes. Not.” Texas got drunk on wine coolers and did what Texas always does: try to pick a fight with the smallest guy in the room.

But not you, Wisconsin.

You stumbled about, dancing with graceless abandon, yelling “Free Bird!” at the polka band. Your shirt was an impressionist painting of mustard stains. You wore that ridiculous slice of plastic cheese on your head. You kept asking Connecticut to rub your belly.

Yes, it was love at first sight.

Everyone said we made such a cute couple. We were two young northern states with our whole lives ahead of us. We would teach our children to be humble and polite and to properly field dress a buck. We would shovel neighbors’ sidewalks and praise the architectural merits of their ice fishing shacks. We would bring kindness to the small, stand tall against the mighty and arrogant. Should they ever invite us to supper, we vowed to always bring a subpar tuna hotdish.

Everyone admired us, Wisconsin. At least when they thought of us. Which wasn’t very often. But still.

For the next century and a half, ours was a marriage tilled with a GMO-free mixture of tenderness, good will, and a mutual affection for Germanic sausages. We were the progressive antidote to Kentucky and Tennessee — only better, because we didn’t procreate with livestock or household pets.

But four years ago, things began to change, Wisconsin. You know it’s true. And it all started when you let that mean little man Scott Walker into our loving marital abode.

That’s when you decided to bust the unions, believing our economic collapse could be blamed on the guy who mows the lawn in the park. You cut education, fought gay marriage, rejected health care. You and Scott began spending all night in the garage, cranking Toby Keith and mumbling bitterly about how the Mexicans were taking all the best parking spots at Old Country Buffet.

You’d turned into North Mississippi.

I tried to ignore it at first. It was just a mid-life crisis. Besides, every state occasionally says to itself, “Let’s just pretend it’s 1874 again.”

This would be a phase, kind of like turning gay for the stay during college. Though I would have preferred that you bought a sports car.

But we kept growing further apart. I was prospering with low unemployment and a soaring economy. You, to put it politely, had become a state without prospects. You had the slowest growth in the Midwest — behind Michigan, for chrissakes. Michigan! It was only a matter of time before you were begging me to buy you cigs and Keystone Light.

Still, I thought it would end this month, when we finally agreed to kick Scott out of the house. But you invited him to stay. For another four years. Without even warning me to hide the silverware.

My first thought was to arrange an intervention. But Ohio wouldn’t return my phone calls. Indiana couldn’t afford bus fare. And Illinois wanted $4,000 in unmarked bills and a comped weekend at Rick’s Cabaret.

Only Iowa agreed to show. Nobody likes Iowa. All it ever talks about is pork belly futures and that wild night it had in Omaha back in ’87.

Which leaves me no choice, Wisconsin. I must ask for a divorce.

Let’s not make this harder than it has to be. It’s not me. It’s you.



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